Sleep, exercise and a little alcohol can help the brain ‘wash’ itself at night to prevent Alzheimer’s, scientists say.
British researchers found the combination stimulated the brain’s own cleaning system, wiping away the toxic build up of proteins linked to the devastating disease.
The research on mice is a breakthrough as it could now be used to create new insights into how the human brain works – and clears away its waste products.
Dr Ian Harrison, from University College London, told the Cheltenham Science Festival studies on the brain fluid of mice showed that a good night’s sleep, increasing heart rate through exercise, and 25ml of wine per day stimulates the brain’s own cleaning system.
Scientists found brain fluid, which is key to transporting waste out of the brain, penetrated deeper into the organ during sleep, making the body’s self-cleaning process more effective.
Research is now focusing on finding ways of preventing the human brain’s cleaning system – the glymphatic system – from failing.
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Dr Harrison 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.
‘What the researchers did was inject a dye into the cerebrospinal [brain] fluid and see where it goes.
‘In the mice that were awake, that cerebrospinal fluid starts to go into the brain but only resides on the surface and doesn’t go deep into the brain tissue.
‘In the same animal when it fell asleep, that cerebrospinal fluid goes far deeper into the brain.’
The cerebrospinal fluid is known to transport waste material out of the brain, and the…