Dementia is fast becoming one of the most prevalent diseases in society. Not just because of the ageing population and the ageing association with the disease, but also because we know little about it and are finding out the hard way that so many lifestyle factors can influence it.
According to the Daily Mail, Age UK conducted research and analysis into dementia and what lifestyle choices we can make to actively prevent it. They believe that lifestyle contributes to about three-quarters of cognitive decline, the type of damage in thinking skills that increase with age including memory loss and speed of thinking.
A major study included in the review found men who followed these five tips for healthy living had a 36 per cent lower risk of developing cognitive decline and a 36 per cent lower risk of developing dementia than those who did not.
The new findings come from The Disconnected Mind, an Age UK funded research project into how thinking skills alter with age, which suggests that changing lifestyle can result in health benefits. The five things you need to do to reduce your dementia risk include:
1. Get regular exercise – gentle to moderate exercise daily is recommended, scientists claim up to 150 minutes per week is ideal.
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2. Do not smoke. Smokers are healthiest if they quite at 40 – studies suggest this can maintain an additional 10 years of life.
3. Maintain a healthy bodyweight – don’t settle being “overweight”, we should be in our healthy range.
4. Eat a Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is high in fish, nuts, whole grains and ‘healthy’ fats such as those in olive oil, while low in red meat and dairy products. Studies suggest three to five or more portions of fruit and vegetables with fat making up less than 30 per cent of calories.
5. A Low or moderate alcohol consumption. This is classified as three or fewer units per day for men, two or fewer for women, with abstinence not treated as a healthy behaviour. A small 125ml glass of wine contains 1.3 units, while a pint of beer contains at least two units.
The review of hundreds of studies into dementia and alzheimer’s also found that preventing and treating diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity can also reduce the risk of dementia.
So tell us, how many of these healthy lifestyle factors do you already do? Share your thoughts on the findings in the comments below…