Life Wellbeing Older drinkers, this is the ‘optimum’ number of weekly drinks for good brain health

Older drinkers, this is the ‘optimum’ number of weekly drinks for good brain health

Older drinkers
Another study has boosted the theory that low to moderate alcohol consumption in older age is good for cognitive function. Photo: Getty
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Good news for older people who enjoy a glass of port after dinner – a moderate weekly alcohol intake can be good for your mental prowess.

If you hit the sweet spot – between 10 and 14 drinks a week – this new research says you’ll even mentally outperform those who abstain altogether.

The findings come out of a study by the University of Georgia, released on Tuesday, which tested the cognitive function of 19,000 middle to older-age adults over the course of about 10 years.

The participants were tested on three cognitive functions: Mental status, word recall and vocabulary.

Overall, those who consumed between 10 and 14 drinks a week – making them low to moderate drinkers – outperformed their heavy drinking and abstinent peers.

The research team also found these low to moderate drinkers also had slower rates of cognitive decline across time (participants were measured every two years) – most notably in the vocabulary test.

There’s a link between a couple of glasses of wine and cognitive function, but don’t go overboard. Things can start declining at 10 drinks a week. Photo: Getty

The ‘why’ part of alcohol’s role in cognitive function remains a mystery, and a source of further research projects for the team.

The findings do build on past research that has drawn similar conclusions: The team referenced two studies – also from the US – including one that showed up to one drink a day was associated with a lowered risk of cognitive decline for women aged 70 to 81.

The Australian government’s health guidelines say a safe level for healthy men and women is no more than 10 standard drinks a week, and no more than four in one day.