According to a study, drinking less or giving it up altogether can benefit your brain. Reduced drinking to a low-risk level resulted in decreased shrinking of the brain. The authors contend that for those having AUD, reducing spending might be a more realistic objective. Some people may be able to reduce their drinking by using techniques like mindfulness. Others, however, might profit from expert assistance.
According to a recent study that was published in the journal Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research, even limiting alcohol use can benefit the brain health of those who suffer from alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder (AUD), according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholisme, is a brain illness marked by an inability to stop or regulate alcohol consumption despite how damaging it is to your relationships, health, or career. According to the study, those with alcohol use disorders had larger volume in specific brain regions than those who drank more heavily when they either cut back on their alcohol consumption or stopped drinking altogether.
The volume of these brain regions also more closely resembled that of non-drinkers when they reduced their drinking to a low-risk level, which was no more than three drinks per day for males and 1.5 drinks for women. Given the difficulty of stopping completely, the authors propose that reducing alcohol intake might be a more realistic objective for some people than complete abstinence. 68 individuals with alcohol use disorders, ranging in age from 28 to 70, provided data for the study’s data collection. The participants were paired with a control group of 34 individuals, who were either non-drinkers or light drinkers, and were of a comparable age.
The team compared the cortex volume in different parts of their brains using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess the health of their brains. They studied patients who started treatment and either quit drinking, started drinking again but at a lower risk, or started drinking again at a higher risk. The higher-risk drinkers had considerably decreased volume in 12 out of 13 locations compared to the controls eight months after starting treatment. In nine of the 13 regions, the volume of low-risk drinkers was lower. In six of the 13 locations, there was less volume among nondrinkers.
Further analysis revealed lower volume in four distinct frontal regions, as well as the fusiform and precentral cortical regions, in higher-risk drinkers compared to non-drinkers. On the other hand, the precentral and rostral middle frontal cortex of low risk drinkers were significantly different from those of non-drinkers. The authors point out that the frontal lobes of the brain are crucial for making decisions, regulating emotions, and maintaining working memory. People may be less able to carry out these tasks if there is less volume in these areas.
Although studies have not shown that drinking can kill brain cells, they have shown that it can cause shrinkage, according to Dr. Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical Lead at Treated. According to this study, he said, even moderate alcohol consumption can lead to a long-term shrinkage of the hippocampus, which is connected to learning and memory. The hippocampus is a portion of the brain with a special and delicate structure, where new neurons are constantly being formed through neurogenesis, he suggested.
Atkinson claims that earlier research has demonstrated that heavy alcohol use can obstruct this process. Atkinson went on to say that because alcohol is a diuretic and causes your body to lose water, it is possible that long-term alcohol consumption will also induce shrinkage. He warned that dehydration could result if this water wasn’t sufficiently supplied. “This effect would be mostly seen across the whole brain though,” he continued, “whereas the recent study shows hippocampus shrinkage most predominantly, suggesting that neurogenesis inhibition plays a bigger role in the reduction of brain size.”
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