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The Surprising Side Effect of Your Daily Glass of Wine

A new study details the unexpected result low to moderate drinking can have.

After a long day, sometimes you just need to unwind with a glass of wine or a cold beer plucked out from the back of your fridge. For most people, this might just be a daily occurrence, and if you've wondered exactly what drinking an alcoholic beverage every day might be doing to you healthwise, prepare to be surprised with this latest development. A new study just revealed that low to moderate drinking might just be good for you, specifically your brain.

That's right, consuming alcoholic drinks might just help your brain stay strong and help prevent cognitive functions from declining.

What exactly was uncovered in this study?

The study published in JAMA Network Open tracked nearly 20,000 participants, who were middle-aged and older, and the scientists involved tested the participants in three different areas: mental status, word recall, and vocabulary. When the participants who drank were compared to those who didn't drink in these three test areas, they were shown to have a higher mental functioning trajectory and overall had a significantly slower mental decline over the years.

So, what qualifies as low to moderate alcohol consumption?

In this study, that means eight drinks a week or fewer for women, and 15 or fewer for men. An additional finding worth noting from this study is that even the participants who were former drinkers even showed a slower mental decline compared to those participants you never drank at all. If you've decided to stop drinking in your older age, perhaps the days of your past when you would often have wine at dinner could be helping out your brain!

But if you're not much of a drinker and think you need to start pounding back them back in order to possibly reap this benefit, not so fast.

As Ruiyuan Zhang, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia and lead author of this study explained, there are other ways you can keep your brain strong that don't involve drinking alcohol.

"If you are not drinking now, there is no reason to start drinking to preserve cognitive function. There are many other ways to prevent cognitive decline—exercise, reading, and so on," he said. He also went on to say that drinking should always "be limited to moderate levels" as "heavy drinking makes cognitive function worse."

If you are a fan of sipping on some wine, beer, or a cocktail every now and then, you could help your brain out in the long-run. As long as you're not overdoing it—that's the key.

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Jennifer Maldonado
Jennifer Maldonado is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and health content. Read more about Jennifer
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