Let’s start with the bad news. According to a new study from University College London the rate of dementia in England and Wales is set to double by 2024. The research cited poor lifestyle choices as the main cause.
The long-term quest to defeat Alzheimer’s – the most common type of dementia – in the past year. A second drug was found to slow down the condition.
“After 20 years without new Alzheimer’s drug, we now have potential new drugs within twelve months – for the first time drugs that seem slow the progression of the disease,” said Dr Richard Oakley. Associate director of research at Alzheimer’s Society. “This could be a turning point in the fight against Alzheimer’s.”
It’s good news, but prevention is always better than cure. And research shows that there are a number of things we can all do to reduce the risk of dementia.
A recent that followed nearly 30,000 adults over a period of more than 10 years has identified six lifestyle choices which can reduce the risk of dementia.
The National Center for Neurological Disorders, Beijing, China, studied adults with normal cognitive function for a period of 10 years and concluded that adopting six positive lifestyle habits – the greater the number, the slower the rate of memory loss.
A healthy diet, defined as consuming at least seven of the 12 food groups recommended each day, including fruits and vegetables, legumes, and nuts, was found to be the most effective.
The second most impactful behavior was cognitive activity, such as playing cards or doing crosswords at least twice a month. Regular exercise, defined as 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity, was next. Socialising twice a weekly, visiting family and friends or attending meetings was also on the list.
Interestingly, results were the same for participants who had been identified as genetically susceptible due to having a key Alzheimer’s risk gene (called AP0E4).
It’s never too late or too early to adopt healthy habits
People with four to six healthy habits of living were 90% less likely to develop dementia compared to those with zero or one. People with two to four were 30% less likely.
Dr Susan Mitchell, head policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “While genetics plays an important role in the health of our minds as we age, research has found a link between a healthy lifestyle and a slower cognitive decline, even in participants who have a key gene risk.
There are many ways to reduce the risk of dementia later in life. It’s never too late or too early to adopt healthy habits.
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