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Reduce the Risk of Dementia

Alzheimer’s is a progressing brain disease characterized by changes in the brain like amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary, or tau. These tangles result in the loss of neurons and their connections, coupled with other changes that impact a person’s ability to recall and think.

Scientists cannot pinpoint the exact reasons behind Alzheimer’s in many people. A few reasons include a combination of age-related changes in the brain paired with genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. A recent study shows that you can easily prevent Alzheimer’s disease by having a healthy diet, exercise, and an active mind. Men and women who maintain a healthy lifestyle tend to live longer, without Alzheimer’s or other dementia.

What Does a Healthy Diet Include?

A healthy diet means consuming foods rich in vegetables, berries, and whole grains, low in fried or fast foods, and red or processed meat. Being occupied in physical and cognitive activities like reading books and playing crosswords will contribute to fewer chances of Alzheimer’s as people age. However, research findings show that it is not only the type of food you consume that eventually becomes the cause of dementia but also the combinations of food that ultimately becomes a source of risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementia later in life. The foods strongly contributing to the threat are sugary snacks, alcohol, processed meats, and starches such as potatoes.

Even though the study could not provide evidence regarding whether a healthy lifestyle is a reason behind people living longer and without dementia, the researcher believes that biological reasons might be linked between lifestyle and dementia and life expectancy.

What Does Research Show?

Research has proven that a diet rich in nutrients and vitamins might also lessen the brain’s inflammation and oxidative stress. Physical activity is associated with less high blood pressure and diabetes, which may reduce the risk of vascular dementia.

Dr. Klodian Dhana, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the Rush Institute of Healthy Aging in Chicago, and his team gathered data from around 2500 men and women aged 65 and older without dementia as a part of the research.

Candidates filled out a diet and lifestyle questionnaire where the score was built on various factors. These factors followed a hybrid Mediterranean-DASH Diet that is rich in whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and berries and low in fast and fried food and red meats involved in mentally stimulating activities at a later stage in life, at least 150 minutes a week of physical activity not smoking and low to moderate alcohol consumption.

The researchers concluded that for those with a healthy lifestyle, their life expectancy at age 65 was 23.1 years for men and 24.2 for women, and for those who did not, their life expectancy was 17.4 years for men and 21.1 for women. Healthy habits bring in more significant benefits in terms of brain health.

The study further found that women with unhealthy lifestyles spent almost 4.1 (19%) of their remaining years with Alzheimer’s compared to 2.6 years (11%) for those who followed four or five healthy habits. If we talk about men, for them, a healthy lifestyle translated to 1.4 years (6%) with Alzheimer’s, compared to 2.1 years (12%) for those with unhealthy habits. These differences are more prominent at the age of 85.

These statistics may help other health professionals better understand the role lifestyle factors play in Alzheimer’s risk and communicate it effectively. Searching for ways to reduce the years people live with dementia while at the same time increasing their lives is crucial amid projections for the numbers to grow in the coming decades.

Key Takeaways

Around the world, it is predicted that the number of people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia will triple by 2050, from around 57 million in 2019 to 152 million in 2050. To avoid being included in these stats, change your diet to a healthy one. Consume a Mediterranean diet full of vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins, especially those protein sources that contain omega-3 fatty acids. Try to stay physically and socially active, engage in activities that require physical exertion, and most importantly – take care of your mental health.

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