I have always thought that alcohol, even in small amounts, is never beneficial to your health or your mind. I’ve been taught that alcohol has negative side effects, even in small uses, or pointless minimal effects that cause you to stumble over words, not feel as much, and cause your brain not to function at it’s full capacity. Therefore, I was surprised when I stumbled across an article explaining a study in which light consumption of alcohol is actually beneficial.
In a recent study, 660 patients were examined by the University of Texas Medical Branch that were part of the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort to examine the midlife and late life alcohol consumption cognitive functioning and regional brain volumes. The patients could not have a track record of dementia or alcohol abuse. Before the tests, each patient had a MRI and neuropsychological assessment to make sure there was no dementia or brain damage from alcohol, and then they were assessed through genetic testing for the alzheimer’s disease. Then the actual testing began to determine the link between the light alcohol consumption and memory, and results showed that alcohol consumption did not have an affect on executive function or overall mental ability. However, it did have an affect on episodic memory. A send study done on animals further showed that light alcohol consumption boosts the hippocampal volume region of the brain in elderly people by assisting the formation of new nerve cells.
In basic terms, this study showed the light consumption of alcohol by people ages 60+ helped them with their episodic memory, which is the ability to remember personalized experiences and events.
Another study, in which 7,460 women ages 65 and above that drank up to three alcoholic beverages per day scored significantly higher on concentration, memory, abstract reasoning, and language tests. The researchers eliminated third variables that could have altered the results such as educational level and income.
These findings support the previously mentioned study conclusions and are consistent with other studies that show drinking alcohol in small amounts or up to three drinks a day in both women and men over the ages of 60/65 reduces the risk of dementia and cognitive function. Because there are multiple studies, chance is reduced as an explanation for the correlation between alcohol consumption and memory, so there is a more concrete link between them. As it appears, there are some benefits to drinking alcohol after all.