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Sep 10, 2020 Wellness Tips Hayley Derwent 5 views

There are a number of ways that we can protect our brain and reduce the risk of dementia. The key is to start being proactive now. Using your brain will help to keep it working well into the future.

  • Look after your heart:
    • Persistent high blood pressure that starts in midlife is associated with increased risk of a late life dementia. (1)
    • Just this year, fourteen studies were analysed, looking at the relationship between type 2 diabetes and dementia. Researcher compared 2.3 million individuals with type 2 diabetes across the 14 studies, including 102 174 with dementia, and diabetes was associated with an increased risk of any dementia. The risk of dementia increased with the duration and severity of diabetes. (1)
    • Eat a healthy diet – aim for a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, and minimise your intake of animal fats and refined sugars.
  • Look after your body:
    • physical exercise is important to keep your body healthy
    • Drink less alcohol – heavy drinking is associated with brain changes (including trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect everyday life) and dementia. (1)
    • Keep your body at a healthy weight. There is new evidence supporting the relationship between increased BMI and dementia. (1)
    • Smokers are at higher risk of dementia than non-smokers. Stopping smoking, even when older, reduces this risk. (1)
    • The WHO guidelines recommend a Mediterranean diet to reduce the risk of cognitive decline or dementia. (1)
  • Look after your mind:
    • Mental exercises and keeping your mind active helps to build new brain cells and to strengthen the signals between them (2). You can help build new brain cells by:
      • Staying social – enjoy the company of others
      • Playing brain games such as puzzles, crosswords and card games
      • Learning a new language
      • Taking up a new sport
      • Learning a new hobby like painting, sewing, woodwork and cooking
      • Varying your daily activities. (2)
    • Comparisons of observational studies over period of 1–21 years showed exercise to be associated with reduced risk of dementia. There is convincing evidence for physical activity protecting against clinically diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease. (1)

 

While the above tips are modifiable lifestyle factors, the Australian government recommends two more strategies that may reduce your risk of developing dementia:

  • Avoid injury:
    • Be safety-conscious and reduce falls or accidents — people who have had serious head injuries have a higher risk of dementia.
  • Manage depression
    • People who have had depression have a higher risk of dementia. (3) Contact your healthcare provider to help manage depression, or contact LifeLine Australia on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

 

References:

  1. Livingstone G, et al, 2020, Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission, The Lancet, 396(10248): 413-446 <https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30367-6/fulltext>
  2. Dementia Australia Ltd, 2020, Risk Factors for dementia – information about lowering your risk of dementia, viewed 8 September 2020 <https://www.dementia.org.au/risk-reduction>
  3. healthdirect, 2020, Dementia prevention, viewed 8 September 2020 <https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dementia-prevention>
Hayley Derwent

About The Author - Hayley Derwent

Hayley is a holistic nutritionist whose vision is to inspire and educate patients about food and lifestyle to positively enhance their health and wellbeing. She provides a safe and caring environment by listening, teaching and supporting people and working in partnership with them to strive towards good health and happiness.

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