Moderate alcohol consumption ‘boosts immune system’

We all enjoy drinking a glass or two of wine to toast the Christmas season. Researchers have discovered that having a glass of wine at dinner can boost our health, as recent research suggests that it could increase the immune system and boost the effectiveness of vaccination.

According to research released in the Journal Vaccine.

The researchers of the study, led by Ilhem Messaoudi of the School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside, believe that their research could assist in understanding how the immune system functions and how it can improve the ability of it to react to vaccinations and diseases.

To arrive at their findings, the researchers taught twelve monkeys (rhesus macaques) to consume alcohol at will.


Small doses of beneficial effects Researchers say moderate drinking alcohol, like drinking a glass of wine after dinner, can help improve the immune system and its response to vaccinations.

In the past, monkeys were in the process of getting vaccinated against smallpox. One group of monkeys then had access to either 4% or 5% alcohol, whereas the other group was allowed access to water with sugar. All monkeys had access to regular water as well as food.

The monkeys were then observed for 14 months and then vaccinated again seven months after the start of the study.

During this period, investigators discovered they observed that monkeys’ intake of alcohol was different, just like humans. This led the researchers to split the monkeys between two other groups.

The first group comprised monkeys who had been “heavy drinkers” – defined as having a blood ethanol level (BEC) higher than 0.08 percent. A second set of monkeys were classified as “moderate drinkers,” with a BEC of 0.02-0.04 0.04 %.

Moderate alcohol consumption ‘enhanced vaccine response’

The study found that before the monkeys could drink access, they all showed similar reactions to vaccines. After drinking alcohol, all of them showed distinct vaccination responses.

The monkeys classified as heavy drinkers responded less to the vaccine than those who consumed sugar water. However, the researchers were shocked to learn that the monkeys deemed moderate drinkers showed an increased immune response to the vaccine.

In his response to the results, Messaoudi states:

“These shocking findings suggest some positive effects of moderate alcohol consumption could manifest by boosting our immune system.

This confirms what’s been widely accepted for a long time: moderate ethanol consumption is associated with decreased mortality from all causes, including cardiovascular disease. If you drink too much alcohol, the study reveals that it can have a significant adverse effect in terms of health.”

An alcoholic glass after dinner could improve your health.

Based on the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a Trusted Source (NIAAA), moderate drinking refers to not more than four alcohol-related drinks in a single day for men and not more than 14 drinks for a whole week. For women, this is reduced to three daily drinks and not over seven beverages in seven days.

The researchers stress that even though their study suggests moderate alcohol consumption can benefit the fight against infection, they don’t recommend that individuals with a history of use begin drinking in light of these results.

“If you have a family history of alcohol abuse, or are at risk, or have been an abuser in the past, we are not recommending you go out and drink to improve your immune system,” says Messaoudi.

But for the average person with a glass of wine with dinner, it seems to improve heath and cardiovascular function, and now we can add the immune system to that list.

Messaoudi says the team will continue to examine how immune system responses to vaccinations could be improved by utilizing these findings.

They also say that they will focus on ways this can be accomplished for vulnerable populations like those over 65 who are known to be ineffective regarding vaccination.


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