Dementia: The popular drink that ‘damages’ the brain and leads to ‘worse’ thinking ability

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For numerous British adults, they are at risk of “more serious brain damage” if they are starting to show signs of mild cognitive impairment – and they continue to indulge in alcohol. The Alzheimer’s Society – a charity dedicated to dementia research – is warning Brits of alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD). If enough damage is done, alcohol-related “dementia” – otherwise known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome – can develop.

Do I have Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome?

Alcohol inhibits the body’s ability to absorb thiamine (vitamin B1).

Thiamine is a vitamin that the brain needs in order to work properly.

Foods rich in thiamine:

  • Fish
  • Beans, lentils
  • Green peas
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Yoghurt.

A lack of vitamin B1 can have “severe and long-lasting effects on the brain”.

If alcohol has severely damaged your brain, you are likely to suffer from memory loss.

Something called “confabulation” can occur, where the person may fill in the gaps of their memory with things that did not happen.

While the person regaling the tale really does believe in its truth, it can come across as though the person is lying.

Another telling sign is when the affected person struggles to understand new information or to learn new skills.

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There may also be changes in personality, where the person becomes apathetic, or becomes very talkative, or does the same things over and over again.

Brain damage may also manifest as issues with concentration, planning, making decisions, or solving problems.

How alcohol affects the brain

Alcohol affects the brain in numerous ways; firstly, too much alcohol can be toxic to the nerves cells.

Drinking too much can cause brain cells to die and the brain tissue begins to shrink.

“This means there are fewer cells to carry the messages that the brain needs to do different tasks,” the charity elaborated.

Regularly consuming alcohol can also damage the blood vessels in a person’s brain, which can lead to high blood pressure.

Both of these risk factors do increase the odds of having a life-threatening stroke.

The Alzheimer’s Society pointed out that, at present, alcohol-related brain damage is “under-diagnosed”.

While there is no recovery possibilities for a person with dementia, alcohol-related damage can heal.

Treatments include turning teetotal, which means abstaining from alcohol, and vitamin B1 injections.

If, however, the person decides to keep drinking more than the NHS recommended guidelines of 14 units per week, dementia is a real risk.

One in 10 people diagnosed with dementia have some form of alcohol-related brain damage.

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