Sleeping well at night, exercising, and drinking a small amount of wine can help prevent Alzheimer's disease, researchers have found.

According to scientists, these have something to do with the link between the brain's cleaning process called the "glymphatic system" and the emergence of harmful waste associated with the disease.

The 'Glymphatic System'

Back in 2012, neuroscientists have discovered a cleaning system inside the brain that can be used to drain the buildup of proteins linked to Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

The scientists named the new system "glymphatic system" because of its similarity to the way the body uses the lymphatic system to wipe out dead blood cells and other harmful waste products.

Unlike the lymphatic system, however, the brain uses a different method. The cerebral spinal fluid flushes out toxins, including beta-amyloid and tau proteins.

Toxic Proteins

In a healthy brain, these proteins are broken down and eliminated. While in Alzheimer's disease, the fragments tend to accumulate and form insoluble plaques between neurons in the brain.

In addition to Alzheimer's, these proteins are also associated with other neurodegenerative diseases, including Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

A Good Night's Sleep And Exercise

In studies conducted on mice, researchers discovered that during sleep, the "glymphatic system" opens up and lets fluid flow rapidly through the brain.

The researchers, for the first time, demonstrated how the space between brain cells may increase during sleep, enabling the brain to wipe out toxins that had accumulated during the waking hours.

As for exercising, Dr. Ian Harrison, from the University College London, compared the results.

"In the sedentary animals, the cerebrospinal fluid penetrates the brain but when the animals have voluntary access to exercise there is massive increase in the amount of lymphatic function," said Harrison. "The research has postulated that it is the increase in heart rate that drives this cerebrospinal fluid into the brain."

Low Alcohol Consumption

A more recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that drinking a small amount of alcohol can also improve the brain's ability to get rid of toxic proteins, including beta-amyloid and tau.

In this study, researchers exposed two groups of mice to alcohol. The first group was exposed to two and a half drinks per day, while the second group was exposed to higher levels of alcohol over a period. The researchers found that the first group had more active "glymphatic systems" while the second group displayed high molecular inflammation in the cells.

According to Harrison, 25ml of wine could increase the "glymphatic system" as based on the mouse study.

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