Dementia: Three lesser-known lifestyle habits which could greatly reduce your risk

Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia

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As the number of patients with Alzheimer disease is expected to grow, finding ways to prevent and lower the risk of Alzheimer disease becomes a crucial matter. Risk factors for developing dementia have been identified including health conditions, dietary habits, genetics and heredity, gender, education, age, and lifestyle. What are three lesser-known lifestyle habits to incorporate into your life now to help reduce the risk of dementia?

Experts recommend people should follow as many healthy lifestyle habits possible to protect the brain as we age.

A person with a parent or sibling with dementia is almost 75 percent more likely to develop it themselves.

When dementia runs in the family both genetics and non-genetic factors such as dietary patterns, physical activity and smoking status affect a person’s overall risk.

Reduce your alcohol

In the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed the dietary, health, and cognitive patterns of twelve thousand nurses between the ages of seventy and eighty-one.

Participants were followed for more than two decades.

Participants who reported drinking up to 15 grams of alcohol per day (about one alcoholic beverage) showed markedly better cognitive scores than those who reported not drinking at all.

Women who consumed one drink per day had a 20 percent lower risk of cognitive decline than did those who did not drink alcohol regularly.

Research finds that moderate intake of alcohol (consume less than 15.0 g of alcohol per day) may also help preserve brain vasculature, may prevent subclinical strokes, and could result in better cognitive function.

Incorporate a Mediterranean diet

“Our dietary intake might exert a significant influence on the risk of developing or conversely preventing cognitive decline and Alzheimer disease,” noted the National Institute of Medicine.

It added: “Mediterranean type diet has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular, neurodegenerative disease, and overall longer survival.”

The traditional Mediterranean diet consists of high consumption of plant food, high intake of olive oil as the major source of monounsaturated fatty acids but low intake of saturated fat, moderate intake of fish, low to moderate intake of dairy products (mostly in the form of cheese or yogurt), and low consumption of meat and poultry.

Get more sleep

Analysis of the data showed that people in their 50s and 60s getting six hours of sleep or less were at greater risk of developing dementia later.

Compared to those getting normal sleep (defined as seven hours), people getting less rest each night were 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

“During the day, we all make some of this beta amyloid protein in the brain,” said Health Harvard.

The health site added: “When we sleep, however, brain cells and their connections actually shrink. 

“This shrinking allows more space between the brain cells, so that beta amyloid and other substances that accumulate during the day can be flushed away.”

Common early symptoms warning of dementia include:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
  • Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
  • Being confused about time and place
  • Mood changes.

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