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As the frenetic festive season approaches perhaps pause to consider your greatest asset – your brain. Alcohol is a psychoactive substance that crosses over the blood brain barrier and into the central nervous system. This is why we drink it – because it alters our perception, sensation, and mood. Make sure you balance pleasure with the risks for harm. It’s quite common in the festive season to consume a little more than usual which means too many drinks can take you from fun to folly quite quickly, or worse…alcohol results in 15 deaths and 430 hospitalisations per day. Enjoy your drink but don’t poison your brain or risk alcohol related injury.

• Maintain hydration. Alcohol is a diuretic so make sure you also drink water, which your brain requires to function

• Eat. Alcohol prevents the absorption of essential vitamins and nutrients, and messes with your blood glucose levels, all of which impact your brain health and function. Food also slows the alcohol absorption rate.

• Count accurately. A standard drink is 10 grams of alcohol. A standard glass of champagne / wine with 11% alcohol would be just under 100mL, but most wines are in fact 14% alcohol.

• Slow down. Your body can’t metabolise alcohol as fast as you can drink it, meaning more alcohol will be sloshing around in your brain and interfering with your brain function and addling your judgement.

• Remove the risks for falls and accidents – sit don’t stumble, don’t drive, operate machinery, or go for a swim.

It might sound obvious but evidently 445 people get it wrong every day.

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