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Dementia: Dr Sara on benefits of being in nature

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Dementia rates are rising exponentially around the world as a result of ageing populations. Healthcare systems are bracing themselves for the headwind. Despite the gloomy forecasts, there is much you can do to protect your brain against decline.

One of the best levers at your disposal is to cut back on alcohol.

According to Doctor Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, researchers have identified links between excessive alcohol consumption and an increased risk of dementia.

The doc explains: “Over time drinking too much alcohol can affect the way our brain works, as well as its physical shape and structure, as alcohol is toxic to brain cells and can stop the body absorbing vitamins properly.”

She mentioned a specific type of dementia that’s caused by long-term heavy drinking: Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome.

This form of dementia “damages our brains by reducing levels of the vitamin B1, resulting in memory problems”, warned Doctor Imarisio.

Just how bad is alcohol for the brain?

According to the doc, pharmacies in southern pines nc a comprehensive report on dementia risk included drinking too much alcohol as one of 12 factors that, combined, are estimated to contribute to 40 percent of all dementia risk.

Research points to the dangers posed by excessive alcohol intake. A Lancet study found more than 57 percent of people who developed dementia before the age of 65 had at some point been in hospital with an alcohol use disorder.

By working with data from the French health care system, researchers were able to analyse hospital admission records of 1.3 million people with a dementia diagnosis.

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They found that more than 57 percent of people who developed dementia before the age of 65 had at some point been in hospital with an alcohol use disorder.

While the study only found an association and can’t prove cause and effect, such a strong link is striking.

Doctor Sara Imarisio, pointed out in her response to the study, there have been similar findings from previous research: “This is not the first-time research has revealed a link between alcohol misuse and dementia, and the findings lend even more weight to calls for people to drink within recommended guidelines.

“As this study only looked at the people who had been admitted to hospital due to chronic heavy drinking, it doesn’t reveal the full extent of the link between alcohol use and dementia risk.”

Limitations

This study only looked at whether people with dementia had been to hospital with an alcohol-related condition and can’t shed light on the risk associated with more moderate alcohol consumption.

Nonetheless, it’s recommended that both men and women should not regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week – this equates to seven pints of beer.

People who drink as much as this should spread their drinking over three or more days, but also have alcohol-free days each week.

As well as limiting alcohol consumption, existing evidence points to a number of other lifestyle changes that can help people maintain a healthy brain for longer.

These include not smoking, eating a balanced diet, staying mentally and physically active and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check.

Research suggests other risk factors may also be important. These include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Untreated depression
  • Loneliness or social isolation
  • Sitting for most of the day.

All told, research concludes that by modifying the risk factors you’re able to change, your risk of dementia could be reduced by around a third.

Experts agree that what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain.

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