Researchers in Brazil may have stumbled upon a drunken solution for healthier hearts. The study found that moderate alcohol consumption conditions the heart to cope more effectively with stress. Alcohol is a toxin that puts just the right amount of stress on the body. It’s like going to the gym for your heart!
Alcohol’s Secret Weapon To A Healthier Heart
Researchers from Stanford University and the Biomedical Science Institute of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil tag-teamed this one. The aim was to investigate a compound that your body makes when it’s exposed to alcohol: acetaldehyde.
Its full name is aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 (ALDH2). ALDH2 is an enzyme that your liver produces to break down alcohol. What does this have to do with the heart? It turns out that ALDH2 makes the heart more resilient to stress (in the right dose).
20 Minutes On A Treadmill Vs. A Marathon
Did you know you can overdose on water? At the right dose, however, water’s essential to life. Alcohol has a similar relationship to heart health. You can easily overdo it, but at the right dose, it can help you thrive. ALDH2 produced during moderate drinking gets the heart in shape to deal with high levels of stress.
That’s right, the same enzyme that digests alcohol is your heart’s fitness trainer. In the words of lead researcher Julio Cesar Batista Ferreira, “heart cells eventually create a biochemical memory to protect against stress, also known as preconditioning. When the cells are submitted to a higher level of stress, they know how to deal with it.”
More Than Just A Party Drug
The heart cells experience stress, but not enough to cause permanent damage. When they detox and repair themselves, they come back stronger. This study was conducted on mice, not humans, but it isn’t the first time that researchers have linked alcohol metabolism to reduce cardiovascular risk.
A meta-analysis released by the Department of Food Science at the University of California Davis states that “moderate ethanol intake from any type of beverage improves lipoprotein metabolism and lowers cardiovascular mortality risk.” Wine is a winner as well. Studies show that molecules present in grapes reduce the risk of arterial disease.