Moderate Drinking Lowers Risk for Dementia

 By: Dr. Victor Marchione
This health e-letter contains some good news for all the wine lovers out there. According to researchers at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may lower the risk of dementia.

The research team analyzed data from more than 365,000 people who took part in 143 studies conducted since 1977. They found that wine appeared more beneficial than beer or spirits. Moderate drinkers were 23% less likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and a general decline in thinking skills. So what's the definition of a "moderate drinker?" A general rule of thumb would be a maximum of two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

According to the researchers, the protective effect of moderate drinking remained after they factored in age, education, sex and smoking. They noted, too, that the effects of alcohol were the same in men and women. One more interesting bit of health news from the study: the association between moderate drinking and reduced risk of dementia and cognitive impairment was statistically significant in 14 of 19 countries, including the United States.

The study authors can't explain why moderate drinking may reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment, but one suggestion is that alcohol might improve blood flow in the brain, thereby boosting brain metabolism.

Another theory is that small amounts of alcohol may make brain cells more fit by slightly "stressing them out" and giving the cells practice at coping before being asked to deal with major stress. It is thought that subjecting brain cells to major levels of stress can eventually cause dementia.

One cautionary note: the researchers aren't suggesting that non-drinkers start drinking. Get your doctor's advice about your nutritional health Make sure moderate drinking doesn't negatively impact any health issues you may have before you start drinking that glass of wine with dinner every night.
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