Even One Alcoholic Drink Effects Brain Mitochondria

If you want to keep your brain working well as you age, a new study makes the case to eliminate alcohol consumption altogether. This recent study found that a single drink can have lasting effects on the cellular function of the brain.

A study published in PNAS suggests that a single alcoholic drink can have long-lasting effects on mitochondrial function in brain cells. These plastic changes to the brain are acute and long lasting. Mitochondria, responsible for energy production and cellular processes, appear to be significantly affected by alcohol consumption.

The study, conducted on mice and fruit flies, two species often used for modeling the human brain, revealed that alcohol disrupted the expression of genes related to mitochondrial function, leading to decreased energy production and impaired cellular metabolism. These changes persisted beyond the duration of alcohol’s presence in the body. Such alcohol-induced mitochondrial dysfunction in brain cells may contribute to cognitive impairment and the development of neurodegenerative diseases and, may be a leading contributor to alcohol dependency (ie. The reason why some people get addicted to alcohol).

Here’s a summary of the function of mitochondria:

  • Mitochondria are like powerhouses in our cells.
  • They produce energy called ATP, which cells need to function.
  • Mitochondria break down food molecules to generate this energy.
  • They also help regulate metabolism and control calcium levels in cells.

Additional studies have explored the impact of alcohol on mitochondrial function in different cell types. One study demonstrated that chronic alcohol exposure reduced mitochondrial function in liver cells, potentially contributing to liver damage and disease.

Another study suggested that alcohol disrupted mitochondrial dynamics in heart muscle cells, which could contribute to cardiovascular dysfunction associated with excessive drinking.

Together, these studies emphasize the potential harm of alcohol on mitochondrial function in various tissues, including the brain, liver, and heart. The findings underscore the importance of considering the long-term effects of alcohol consumption, even in moderation.

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Danny Kwon JD

Danny is the executive director of Life and Health and identifies with the struggle most people have to eat and live healthy, going back to his days eating fast food and working long hours as an attorney all the way to his present trying to find ways to get his kids to eat their veggies. Those challenges inspire him to produce evidence-based media designed to help people live healthier, happier lives. Danny is also the CEO of Carbon Biotech, the makers of Black Ice charcoal patch and is an attorney licensed in California and Canada.

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