Adolescents should drink water and green tea instead of alcohol for brain health

Harold Mandel's picture
Too much to drink

Researchers have found drinking a lot of alcohol can change the brains of adolescents.

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Adolescents often ignore suggestions that they're a lot better off drinking something healthy instead of alcohol. They are making a big mistake when they ignore this advice with recent research showing the brain of adolescents is changed from heavy drinking of alcohol.

The development of the brain is altered from drinking alcohol heavily during adolescence

The University of Eastern Finland reports the development of the brain is altered from drinking alcohol heavily during adolescence. In this study done from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital it was observed there was cortical thinning of the brain in young people who had been heavy drinkers during their adolescence.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain structure was used for this study. The imaging was done on the brains of young and healthy adults who were nevertheless heavy drinkers who had consumed alcohol heavily during their adolescence. The imaging was also done on light-drinking control participants who were the same age.

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Brain maturation is still continuing in adolescence

It was revealed that there were statistically significant differences in magnetic resonance imaging between the groups. Grey matter volume was less in the anterior cingulate cortex of the brain bilaterally as well as in the right insula in the heavy-drinking participants. PhD Student Noora Heikkinen, who was the first author of this study, has commented that brain maturation is still continuing in adolescence, particularly in the frontal areas and the cingulate cortex. The findings in this study indicate that drinking alcohol heavily may disrupt this maturation process.

Some of the volumetric changes in the brain may be reversible if alcohol consumption is lowered significantly

The cingulate cortex plays a significant role in impulse control. It appears volumetric changes in this part of the brain may play a significant role in the development of a substance use disorder later on in life. Structural changes seen in the insula may reflect a decreased sensitivity to the negative subjective effects of alcohol, which way lead to the development of a substance use disorder. It seems possible some of the volumetric changes in the brain may be reversible if alcohol consumption is lowered significantly.

This study has been published in the journal Addiction. There appears to be an association between abnormal development of the grey matter in the brain and drinking alcohol excessively during adolescence. Furthermore decreased sensitivity to the negative subjective effects of alcohol may be due to structural changes detected in the insula of the brains of alcohol users. Clearly adolescents should consider replacing any considerations of drinking alcohol with refreshing fresh water or green tea.

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