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reduce dementia risks

Can I Reduce Dementia Risk?

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There are 6.2 million people living with Alzheimer's disease in the U.S. alone, making it the fifth leading cause of death in the country. That's roughly 1 in 9 people over age 65. That number is estimated to go up due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, these stats mean that many of us likely know someone with dementia or Alzheimer's and may even have a family history of cognitive-related conditions.

Are there any steps you can take to reduce dementia risk?

Several genes influence your risk for Alzheimer’s disease, both positively and negatively. While you inherit your genes, other factors can impact how genes express themselves in a person. Many things can “turn on” and “turn off” genes, like environment, lifestyle, risk-factor management, and others. There are several factors at play when it comes to cognitive health. However, there’s just one thing that stands alone for its protective benefits—and that is living a healthy lifestyle.

Yahoo News’ recent article entitled “The #1 Way to Reduce Dementia Risk—Even If You Have Family History” reports on a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They say that some people with a healthy lifestyle had an almost 300% lower risk of developing dementia than those with an unhealthy lifestyle. The research points out exactly how you can stay healthy and sharp for longer.

A significant way of reducing dementia risk with a healthy lifestyle is moving your body. Studies have found that regular exercise can protect against cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day.

Another significant part of leading a healthy lifestyle has a healthy, balanced diet. When it comes to dementia, some specific recommendations provide extra benefits, like the MIND diet, which is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets that focus on super-brain-healthy foods. Recent research has found that eating in line with the MIND diet can lessen the risk of cognitive decline, even if you’re already experiencing symptoms.

On the other hand, many unhealthy habits can increase your risk for dementia. Not eating a nutritious diet and being inactive are significant contributors. However, there are several other less apparent unhealthy lifestyle habits. Not getting enough sleep can put a severe strain on your brain.

Although it may be less concrete, having good social support is critical for staying sharp as you get older. Research has shown that people who feel socially isolated are at risk for diminished brain function. Try to regularly set aside time to be social, even if it’s virtual.

Remember, eating well, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and being social can reduce your chances of suffering from dementia by helping you stay sharp as you age.

Reference: Yahoo News (Oct. 25, 2021) “The #1 Way to Reduce Dementia Risk—Even If You Have Family History”