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Effect of Alcohol on the Brain: Check out how much Alcohol should be consumed and the advantages and disadvantages.


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Effect of Alcohol on the Brain: Check out how much Alcohol should be consumed and the advantages and disadvantages.

Effect of Alcohol on the Brain: Alcohol consumption may undoubtedly be a fun way to let off steam after a stressful day. In addition to reducing social anxiety, unwinding with a beer or a glass of wine helps strengthen relationships with friends, coworkers, and neighbors.

Effect of Alcohol on the Brain

Effect of Alcohol on the Brain: And it’s clear that alcohol is strongly embedded in our culture given that 86% of Americans who are 18 years of age and older have drunk alcohol at some time. Yet, excessive alcohol intake on a regular basis might have a negative influence on your brain health even though moderate alcohol consumption is linked to certain health advantages.

But how much is “too much?” What are the pros and cons of alcohol? We consulted with specialists who contributed their knowledge to help us with these questions. We also explore the science so you can learn how drinking alcohol affects your brain’s health.

How Alcohol Is Digested

Alcohol is metabolised in the body differently than other substances. After taken, alcohol is processed by multiple processes in your body that include two enzymes, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) (ALDH).

According to Rachel Rohaidy, MD, a psychiatrist from the Miami Neuroscience Center, “When you consume alcohol, it’s absorbed into the bloodstream, mostly from the small intestine.” This blood is drawn from veins and sent to the liver, where it is exposed to enzymes that break down alcohol and its metabolites.

Alcohol is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream after entering through your small intestine and spread throughout your body, including the kidneys, lungs, and brain.

The first organ that alcohol affects after entering the circulation is the brain, according to registered dietician Sarah Schlichter, M.P.H., of Bucket List Tummy. “Alcohol is absorbed throughout your body, but it affects your brain negatively.

Blood circulates through the body in 90 seconds in the majority of healthy individuals, allowing alcohol to have an immediate impact on your brain and all other organs. Food, on the other hand, can dramatically slow down the circulatory absorption of alcohol.”

Effect of Alcohol on the Brain: Check out how much Alcohol should be consumed and the advantages and disadvantages.

How Much Alcohol Is Safe?

Every activity has a proper time and place, and drinking alcohol is no different. Nonetheless, the consensus regarding the safest quantity has been reached: According to several studies, moderate alcohol use has certain health benefits.

Some specialists, however, contend that no level of alcohol use is secure. Chronic alcohol use has been linked to structural changes in the brain and “functional dysregulation of key brain systems that control behavior, such as reward processing, impulse control, and emotional regulation,” according to a 2021 study published in Nutrients.

“All of your body’s cells are harmful to alcohol. Also, we must take into account the individual’s history of health conditions, the quantity and frequency of their alcohol consumption, as well as the alcohol itself “explains Rohaidy.

Effect of Alcohol on the Brain: Check out how much Alcohol should be consumed and the advantages and disadvantages.

Reduce Your Alcohol Consumption

Notwithstanding what science indicates, individuals will continue to use alcohol. Nonetheless, it is advisable to adhere to the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) in order to safeguard your mental health.

The DGA advises limiting daily alcohol consumption to one drink or fewer for women and two drinks at most for males.

Depending on the quantity and alcohol content, some alcoholic beverages are seen to be safer than others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a typical beverage (CDC), is:

5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content)

8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content)

12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content)

1.5 ounces of distilled spirits or liquor like gin, rum, vodka and whiskey (40% alcohol content)

“No amount of alcohol is regarded safe,” warns Schlichter, “for individuals with specific health issues, on certain drugs, under the age of 21, pregnant or at danger of getting pregnant, and those who can’t regulate how much they drink.”

Effect of Alcohol on the Brain: Check out how much Alcohol should be consumed and the advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages

  • Alcohol may enhance cognitive performance.

A 2020 study published in JAMA found some evidence of beneficial correlations between alcohol use and cognition.

Less than eight drinks per week for women and fewer than 15 drinks per week for males were shown to be substantially related with a higher “cognitive function trajectory” in the cohort analysis of 19,887 participants.

This includes a slower rate of cognitive decline and higher cognition scores for mental state, word memory, and vocabulary.

  • Alcohol may make you feel better.

The effects of alcohol on mood were explored in a 2017 research that was published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

The study came to the conclusion that drinking was linked to a higher positive mood and a lower negative mood when drinking. Nevertheless, the researchers found that people who admitted to drinking to deal with worry had fewer positive effects on their mood.

A drink may also improve your mood and serotonin levels, a hormone your brain produces that makes you feel happy, albeit usually just temporarily, says Schlichter. “These immediate advantages may include more ease, relaxation, and social contact.”

Effect of Alcohol on the Brain: Check out how much Alcohol should be consumed and the advantages and disadvantages.

The disadvantages

  • The risk of neurodegenerative diseases may be increased by alcohol.

According to Schlichter, studies have connected greater brain iron levels to neurodegenerative illnesses including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The risk of neurodegenerative illness may increase if you consume more than four standard drinks per week, according to a July 2022 research that was published in PLOS One and had 20,729 individuals. According to Schlichter, “higher iron levels have also been associated with weaker executive function and reaction times.”

  • Alcohol may shrink the size of the brain.

Avoiding alcohol may be beneficial if you want to maintain your brain’s volume as you become older. One to two drinks per day can lower brain capacity, according to a March 2022 study that was reported in Nature Communications. Moreover, when alcohol intake rose, more volume was lost overall.

Effect of Alcohol on the Brain: Check out how much Alcohol should be consumed and the advantages and disadvantages.

Questions and Answers

  1. Which region of the brain is most impacted by alcohol first?

Alcohol first has an impact on your prefrontal cortex after consumption. According to Rohaidy, the prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain in charge of judgment and logic. “The frontal lobe is the region that supports decision-making, problem-solving, and goal-oriented actions.”

  1. Does drinking cause long-term brain damage?

A neurotoxin, alcohol can cause the death of brain cells. Although certain brain cells can repair over time, Schlichter says that because alcohol has long-lasting effects on the brain’s neurotransmitters, damage may be irreversible.

According to an analysis from 2020 that was published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Therapy, increasing alcohol use has also been linked to an increased risk of dementia.

  1. Is alcohol-related brain damage reversible?

According to some studies, total abstinence from alcohol can partially cure the brain shrinkage caused by long-term alcohol consumption. A previous study also discovered that cutting off alcohol consumption boosted brain volume.

After the first two years of quitting drinking, vitamin supplements and total abstinence from alcohol may be able to relieve the symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a brain and memory impairment caused by thiamine deficiency that can be brought on by alcohol, according to Schlichter.

The Bottom Line

We won’t see an end to alcohol very soon. There is conflicting scientific evidence about whether any level of alcohol intake is healthy for you, despite the fact that it may complement a healthy, balanced diet and help you unwind.

To promote your brain health and help avoid cognitive decline, drink sensibly and keep your intake to one or two drinks per day when you opt to relax with a few drinks.

Source: eatingwell.com


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