The Troubling Link Between Middle-Aged Drinking And Dementia

If you're middle-aged, you might want to skip that second glass of wine, according to a set of new British health recommendations.

The National Institute For Health and Care Excellence has released recommendations intended to help prevent and delay the onset of age-related health problems, including dementia and other disabilities. 

Among the recommendations is for people between the ages of 40 and 64 to "reduce the amount they drink as much as possible." The recommendations cite a number of studies which tout the benefits of limiting alcohol, including greater longevity and a better quality of life with age.

The watchdog organizations's recommendations stress that while some health complications might be unavoidable due to injuries or genetics, there are steps people can take in midlife to help themselves age better. They say too much alcohol could up one's risk of developing dementia. The recommendations also urge people to quit smoking, start an exercise regimen and eat more health-consciously. 

"It is commonly thought that physical decline is an inevitable part of growing older, but this is not necessarily the case,” a spokesperson for NICE told The Guardian. “Changes in the way we live in midlife can bring real benefits."

The organization hopes to make alcohol "less accessible, less affordable." Current National Health Service recommendations in the UK say men should limit their regular alcohol intake to no more than 2-4 units a day, and women just 2-3. A bottle of wine is considered 10 units, with a standard glass counting as just over two units. 

For more information on the link between dementia and drinking, go here.

Numerous studies have shown the benefits of other healthy habits -- such as exercise -- as we age. One 2013 study found that middle-aged men who exercised regularly slashed their risk of dementia and other cognitive decline by as much as 60 percent. Another study published last year showed people with healthy diets that included fruits, vegetables and fish had almost a 90 percent lower risk of dementia in the coming 14 years, than their unhealthy counterparts who had sugary, fatty diets. 

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