We only get the brain we were born with—and anything we could do to preserve the health of it is an investment in our health and longevity. Having an agile brain that can grasp retention, focus, comprehension and creativity will help us continue feeling happier and younger. However, some drinking habits can cause our noggin’ to age quicker than they should. From over drinking alcohol and skipping out on the water to drinking sugar-rich drinks, here are big mistakes for brain health.
1 — Drinking to get intoxicated
When you are in a new social setting, alcohol is a quick way to feel more at ease and social. If you feel uncomfortable, you might have more drinks than you probably should, making you feel a bit intoxicated and building up the toxins that can harm your brain cells, warns Dr. William Li.
“High levels of alcohol will kill brain neurons very fast, so drinking too much can cause brain damage,” he says.
In the near term, your brain will repair itself but repeated over drinking builds up the toxic effects within the brain and can cause neuroinflammation.
Rather than drinking a lot, go easy with just one glass of red wine when you attend a social gathering. This will provide you the calmness that you are seeking without damaging your brain.
2 — Drinking beverages that are high in sugar
Although the brain requires glucose to function, too much of it is a bad thing, warned Tara Tomaino. As she explains, a lot of studies have connected excess sugar consumption with developing cognitive impairment, and it is a particular concern for individuals with diabetes. How come?
“As the disease will cause a restriction of your blood vessels, lowering the amount of blood flow traveling to the brain,” she continues.
Giving up sugar is a hard feat, but you could take baby steps by trading in your go-to sodas, teas, juices and slushies with unsweetened kinds. Or Tomaino suggests diluting sweet drinks with some water or gradually lower the amount of sugar that you add.
“Don’t worry—your taste buds will adjust,” she adds.
3 — Not drinking sufficient amounts of water
Considering your brain is made up of almost 70% water, staying hydrated is best way to achieve wellness in your mind and body, says Serena Poon.
“Researchers have discovered that even mild dehydration could impact cognitive function,” Poon said. “Keep in mind that drinks that contain caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, meaning they will detract from overall hydration.”
A good rule of thumb is to drink your body weight in ounces every day—so if you are 150 pounds, aim for 150 ounces.