RESEARCHERS’ THOUGHTS AND studies on the daily consumption of alcohol have recently swung between being good for you to being horrible for you. But drinking low levels of alcohol each day may keep your brain swept free from harmful proteins associated with dementia, says a new study published in the journal Scientific Report.

The research, which was done on mice, compared acute and chronic exposure to alcohol within their brains; it found that for high levels over a long period there was elevated inflammation and impairment of cognition and motor skills. But in those with low levels—about the equivalent of 2.5 drinks a day—they had less inflammation and a cleaner brain with higher amounts of waste-washing spinal fluid, along with comparable brain function and motor control compared to the control mice.

“Studies have shown that low-to-moderate alcohol intake is associated with a lesser risk of dementia, while heavy drinking for many years confers an increased risk of cognitive decline,” said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “This study may help explain why this occurs. Specifically, low doses of alcohol appear to improve overall brain health.”