If you watch loads of movies, like biology and learning about diseases or know someone who has dementia, you've probably heard of Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's is an extension of a disease called dementia and it causes a lot of problems with memory, behaviour, and thinking. It slowly disintegrates one's memory and other cognitive abilities. It is a progressive and degenerative disease of the brain.
It tends to disrupt the transmitters that carry messages to the brain and back while also shrinking the brain. Therefore, the brain cells die and are unable to function like before.
The progress of the disease is slow and painful and patients generally survive only for five to seven years after diagnosis. It is said to be the 6th leading cause of death and in the U.S itself around 5 million people suffer from it.
Obviously, then Alzheimer's disease has plagued many people's lives and having this disease could be frustrating and incite feelings of helplessness, violence, and cluelessness. The worst part about Alzheimer's is that it cannot be cured.
Now, the good news: Researchers have found a way that helps in avoiding the occurrence of Alzheimer's in the first place. According to this research, which was carried out in University College London (UCL), proper sleep at night, exercise, and around 25 ml of wine every day can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's to a great extent.
How Is That Possible?
Every night when one goes to sleep, the cerebrospinal fluid in the brain tends to clean all the waste material produced by the brain. This system that cleans our brain at night is known as the glymphatic system. However, if we add 25ml of wine and enough exercise to be a part of the process, it makes the self-cleaning process more effective.
Moreover, Alzheimer's is caused due to a heavy and toxic build-up of proteins which kills the neuron cells. Studies have now found and are focusing on developing and understanding a link between the glymphatic system and protein building in the brain.
Dr. Ian Harrison from UCL was the first to tell the Cheltenham Science Festival about how increasing one's heartbeat through exercise, having an ample and sound sleep at night, and having a drop of wine every day helps in cleaning the brain and reducing the risk of Alzheimer's.
He said, "A paper came out a couple of years ago where the researchers studied the brains of mice when they are asleep and mice when they are awake,".
He further went on to explain what the researchers did and found in the study. They injected a dye in the mice's cerebrospinal fluid to see where it goes. The researchers found out that when the mice were awake, the cerebrospinal fluid reached only the surface of the brain but did not go deep into the brain tissue. However, when the animal was asleep, the fluid went deeper into the brain.
The study also found out that the glymphatic system was 60% more active in the animals when they were asleep than when they were awake. Dr. Ian Harrison said that the above-mentioned research was good evidence to prove how the glymphatic system is more active when one is sleeping.
It also makes sense because during the day one's brain is active and, therefore, keeps producing waste material and so everyone should be sleeping more than they usually do (only if you sleep for a few hours in a day).
Dr. Harrison also informed that the results were comparable when the animals had access to exercise and alcohol. Exercising increases the heart rate and that helps in driving the cerebrospinal fluid in the brain and thus improving the function of the glymphatic system.
The researchers experimented with alcohol by giving them low, intermediate, and high levels of alcohol. While intermediate and high levels of alcohol impaired or interfered with the functions of the glymphatic system, low levels of alcohol helped in the process of self-cleaning and lead to about 30%-40% of an increase in the washing of waste material from the brain.
Therefore, about 25 ml of wine every day should help in increasing the activity of the glymphatic system.
Dr. Harrison concluded by saying, "So, sleep more, exercise and, as the data suggests, you can have a drink, but only a third of a unit of wine per day."