02 Jun Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
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We all know how important is is to lead a healthy lifestyle to enjoy a good quality of life, especially as we age. Furthermore, according to recent research, a combination of good behaviors can substantially lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The research study was funded by the National Institute on Aging. It was published in the June 17, 2020, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
How to Decrease your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Data from approximately 3000 people participating in two NIA studies shows those who did four or all five of the following healthy behaviors had a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. “This population-based study helps paint the picture of how multiple factors are likely playing parts in Alzheimer’s disease risk,” said Dallas Anderson, Ph.D., program director in the Division of Neuroscience at NIA. Furthermore, he says, “It’s not a clear cause and effect result, but a strong finding because of the dual data sets and combination of modifiable lifestyle factors that appear to lead to risk reduction.”
Behaviors which can help decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Physical activity: At least 150 minutes each week of moderate to vigorous physical activity.
- No smoking: Research confirms that quitting smoking, even after the age of 60, will improve health.
- Light to moderate alcohol consumption: Limit use of alcohol to decrease risk of dementia.
- High quality diet: Studies show a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (which helps control hypertension) are linked to preventing dementia. Both diets focus on plant-based foods. This includes green leafy vegetables, broccoli, legumes, fruits, whole grains, fish, olive oil, moderate amounts of alcohol and low amounts of saturated fats, dairy products, meat, and poultry.
- Cognitive activities: Remain intellectually engaged to keep your mind active to help with brain health. Continue working or volunteer. Learn a new language/musical instrument, play board games, or work a crossword puzzle. Drive a different route to and from your usual destinations. Use your non-dominant hand for some activities. This will help strengthen neural connections in the brain and possibly even develop some new ones.
Keep Blood Pressure and Weight Under Control
Keeping your blood pressure and weight at healthy levels are also important factors in reducing your risk of dementia. In fact, the NIA notes research supports preventing or controlling blood pressure will protect brain health as you age. The saying, “What’s good for your heart is good for your brain,” is true.
- High blood pressure not only puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, but can also impact the brain in negative ways. For example, hypertension can affect cognition–the ability to think, remember, and reason. Furthermore, studies show that having high blood pressure in midlife increases the risk of cognitive decline later in life.
- Obesity is also associated with an increased risk of developing dementia. This is according to a recent NIA-supported study and published in the Journal of Epidemiology. Participants in the study who had BMI correlating to being overweight or obese were more likely to develop dementia.
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