Habits to Reduce Developing Dementia and Alzheimer’s
With more and more people developing dementia and Alzheimer’s each year, experts continue to emphasize the importance of doing what you can to help reduce your risk of dementia. This includes physical activities, being heart healthy and partaking in mentally challenging exercise that may help reduce the risk. Research suggests that up to 50% of Alzheimer’s cases are attributable to factors that can be changed. So what are these lifestyle factors?
- Be Heart Healthy. The risk of dementia seems to increase with unfavorable heart conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. These are all conditions that are detectable and treatable with regular doctor’s visits and following a plan.
- Get physical. Exercising regularly correlates with better brain function and less cognitive decline and dementia. Exercise increases the flow of blood to the brain as well as stimulates brain cell growth. A minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day is recommended – as many days as possible.
- Challenge your brain. By asking your brain to think about something it doesn’t know, it helps build new brain cells and strengthen connections. This could include crossword puzzles or even learning a new language.
- Eat right. Sounds simple – but research suggests that eating a healthy, balanced diet may help to keep the brain healthy. Reduce the saturated fats and up your consumption of veggies, fruit, nuts and lean meat. A 2006 study at Vanderbilt University found that drinking fruit and vegetable juices more than three times a week could cut the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 76%. A study completed in 2014 showed that fruits containing a compound called fisetin has Alzheimer’s fighting properties. (This can be found in strawberries and mangos.) Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids which can control blood clotting, build cell membranes in the brain, protect against heart disease, protect against brain atrophy and slow Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Sleep Sound. Sleep deprivation has been associated with numerous health problems, from stress to increased cortisol. Both of these are risk factors for Alzheimer’s.
- Be social. Yes, it’s true that social engagement has been found to benefit factors related to cognitive function. The mental stimulation of being social may also contribute to building brain reserve which contributes to a lower dementia risk.
- Cut back the drinks. England’s top dementia doctor says that most studies suggest that consuming large amount of alcohol increases the risk of dementia later in life.
For more information, visit The Alzheimer’s Association.