How to lower Dementia risk?
A healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of dementia. The other risk factors for dementia, like heart attacks and strokes, can also be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Eating a healthy diet, remaining active, and practicing mental exercises may help lower the risk of dementia. As per the study published in the journal JAMA, the risk of dementia in people with high genetic risk can be reduced by 32% by adopting a healthy lifestyle, in comparison with people without a healthy lifestyle.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a brain-wasting disease, that results in a decline in memory, problem-solving skills, and thinking skills. It affects a person’s ability to perform day-to-day activities. As per the WHO, it affects around 50 million people globally. With the addition of an App 10 million people annually, its number will raise to triple-figure by the year 2050.
Dementia is a group of symptoms, that affect memory, thinking, and social abilities. Symptoms of dementia include memory loss and trouble with language, personality changes, delusions, agitation, reduced ability to solve problems, and inability to control emotions. Dementia increases with age, but it is not a part of the normal aging process. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s. There are a number of risk factors for dementia. Depending upon the risk factors (preventable and unpreventable), dementia symptoms can be reversed.
What are the risk factors?
People with high genetic risk and unhealthy lifestyles have three times more risk of developing dementia than people with low genetic risk and a healthy lifestyle. Following are the few risk factors:-
Age: As age advances, the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, increases. But it is not the normal aging process.
Genetics and family history:- Scientists have discovered genes that increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. However, cases have been reported of people developing Alzheimer’s without any family history. Or people with a family history were reported to have not developed Alzheimer’s.
Smoking:- As per studies, it was found that smoking increases the risk of dementia. Smoking increases the risk of atherosclerosis, which may lead to vascular diseases. The risk factors for dementia.
Atherosclerosis:- Atherosclerosis is the formation of plaque in the arteries carrying blood. It may interrupt the supply of blood carrying oxygen and nutrients to the organs. If the arteries carrying blood to the brain are blocked. It may lead to a stroke. It has been found in different studies, that there is a link between atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
Higher Cholesterol levels:- Bad cholesterol (LDL) leads to atherosclerosis. Which is the risk factor for dementia. For more reading about- Cholesterol- Good or Bad? <<=Please click.
Diabetes:- Diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. It also leads to atherosclerosis and stroke. which may increase the risk of dementia. For more reading about: – What are early signs and symptoms of diabetes? <<=Please click.
Alcohol use:- Drinking large amounts of alcohol for longer periods may lead to a type of dementia called korsakoff. Moreover, alcohol use, in the long run, may have toxic effects on brain cells.
High levels of Homocysteine:- Homocysteine is the amino acid that naturally circulates in the blood. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. High levels of homocysteine increase the risk of stroke, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Lowering the dementia risk.
Some types of dementia are beyond our control. But some measures can be taken to lower the risks and maintain good health. According to a report published in The Lancet, approximately 35% of dementia cases can be delayed or prevented by taking care of preventable risk factors like hypertension, obesity, depression, diabetes, physical inactivity, smoking, and social isolation.
Maintaining good health:-Taking proper care of health problems that can increase the risk of dementia-like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels. And consult your healthcare provider for health issues like depression, hearing loss, and insomnia.
Exercise:- Adopting a habit of daily exercise and remaining active helps a lot in reducing dementia risk. As per a study in 2019, it was found that aerobic exercise may slow atrophy in the hippocampus—the part of the brain that controls memory. Regular exercise is good for controlling obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart health, and stress levels, which can reduce the risk factors for dementia. For more, read about how a sedentary lifestyle impacts people’s health globally. Please click.
Another study in 2019 revealed that people leading an active lifestyle tend to retain cognitive abilities better than those who remain inactive. This was the case even for people who had biomarkers linked to dementia. Adopting the habit of practicing yoga and meditation may also help lower the risk of dementia.
Healthy Eating: A balanced diet containing healthy ingredients may help reduce the risk of dementia. It may also reduce other risk factors like- diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. A few of the suggestions for a balanced diet are:-
- Take small meals at regular intervals. At least 50% to 60% of the diet should contain fruits and vegetables. For more reading about- Vegetables- The ultimate source of nutrition and protection. <<= Please click.
- Consume protein (such as fish, beans, pulses, eggs, meat, etc.) at least twice a week.
- Avoid added sugars and limit salt intake.
- Eat fewer saturated fats or trans fats. For more reading about- Fats– The most important part of our food. Please click.
- Remain well hydrated. Consume six to eight glasses of fluid. Such as water, lower-fat milk, sugar-free drinks, etc.
Quitting smoking:- Smoking increases the risk of dementia. It may impact blood vessels, carrying blood and nutrients to other parts of the body, including the heart and brain. Which further increases the risk for dementia. Smoking is also not good for other health conditions like- type-2 diabetes, stroke, lung, and other cancers.
As per a study, non-smokers who exercised regularly and had a balanced diet with moderate drinking were found to have decreased dementia risk irrespective of their profile of high, medium, or low genetic risk.
Limit alcohol intake:- Too much alcohol intake, in the long run, may increase the risks of developing dementia. Limit intake of alcohol to 14 units per week on separate days. Alcohol consumption may further increase the other risk factors for dementia-like-obesity, high blood pressure, etc. And it is also not good for cardiovascular and nervous health. Consumption of large quantities of alcohol for longer periods may accelerate brain aging.
Mental activities:-Remaining mentally active help in lowering dementia risk. People who continue to learn new things and challenge their brains are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. As per a study, it was found that older adults who received at least 10 sessions of mental training improved cognitive functioning in day-to-day activities in the later months. They continued long-lasting improvements even 10 years later. Brain teasers and strategy games provide a great mental workout and help in retaining cognitive activities. Remaining socially active like- joining a club, or indulging in social activities also helps in lowering the risk of dementia.
Quality sleep:- There exists a link between poor sleep and the risk of developing dementia. Few studies have emphasized the importance of quality sleep for flushing out toxins from the brain. Following a few steps may help in inducing quality sleep.
- Fixing and following the schedule for sleeping and waking time.
- Avoiding watching electronic screens in the bedroom.
- Adopting a habit of reading some good books before sleeping.
- Taking a hot water shower may help in inducing quality sleep.
- Consulting your healthcare provider in case of sleep apnea ( interruption in breathing during sleep). For more reading about – Sleep apnea- Maybe due to fat tongue. <<= Please click.
Reducing stress levels:- Long-term stress may impact the brain. It may lead to shrinkage in the key memory areas, hampering nerve cell growth, and increasing the risk for dementia. For more reading about- How to cut down stress levels? <<= Please click.
Wishing all to be in a healthy state with a healthy lifestyle. Please consult your healthcare provider for the treatment.
(For awareness purposes only).
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