Jul 07, 2017

Is Dementia Preventable?

Will all the medical advice and helpful tips out there about “preventing dementia” and “reducing the risks”, it can be rather confusing trying to understand out how lifestyle changes can help you.

You might read some articles and wonder, “ok, so if I do all these things regularly, does this mean I will not develop dementia when I am older?”

Well, it’s not that simple. There is no certain way to prevent all types of dementia.

When people are advised to eat better or exercise more or do brain puzzles to stay sharp, these preventative measures lower the chance of you developing dementia or keep the symptoms at bay for longer.

There is no sure fire way to guarantee you will not get dementia when you are older, but there are things you can do to ensure the odds are more in you favour.

So what can you do? A healthy lifestyle can help lower the risk of developing dementia when people get older.

As well as dementia, lifestyle changes can also prevent cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and heart attacks, prevent diabetes, lower blood pressure and improve mental health issues.

To reduce your risk of developing dementia and other serious health conditions, it’s recommended that people should:

  • eat a healthy diet
  • exercise regularly
  • decrease alcohol consumption
  • maintain blood pressure at a healthy level
  • maintain a healthy weight

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Healthy Diet

Diet plays a huge role in overall health – both physical and mental. Limiting the intake of sugar and saturated fats, high-fibre diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains can help reduce the risk of certain kinds of dementia.

Salt is also something that needs to be controlled where possible. Many processed foods have a high concentration of salt and limiting that amount of salt can also help. Too much salt can increase your blood pressure, which puts you at risk of developing some types of dementia.

High cholesterol levels may also put you at higher risk of developing some kinds of dementia, so try to limit the amount of food you eat that is high in saturated fats.

Physical Exercise

Exercising three times a week can reduce the chances of dementia by as much as 70 per cent. Regular exercise, which can be as simple as going for a daily walk, exercise may directly benefit brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow in the brain due to its known cardiovascular benefits. It will also help to lower your cholesterol and keep your blood pressure at a healthy level, decreasing your risk of developing dementia symptoms.

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Brain Exercises

When reducing the risk of dementia, working out your brain can be just as important as exercising the body. The research suggests that any activity that involves thinking and learning may be beneficial for  protecting against dementia and overall brain health.  

Therefore, it is important to try and stimulate the brain through activities such as reading or doing crossword puzzles. 

More Sleep, Less Stress

Sleep is very important for the brain. A growing body of research suggest that a lack of sleep make increase your risk to developing dementia, it’s been suggested that people with sleeping disorders are at an ever higher risk. It is recommended that you should get 7-9 hours of sleep every night

There has been an increasingly clear link between stress and dementia. However, it is difficult to measure stress as it something that can be very differently from person to person. This makes it difficult to know exactly how it affects the development of dementia symptoms.

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Alcohol and Dementia

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol may increase your blood pressure to rise, as well as raising the level of cholesterol in your blood.

Stick to the recommended limits for alcohol consumption to minimise your risk of developing high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and dementia.

A “standard drink”: 1 middy full-strength beer/100ml wine/30ml spirits; and the recommended daily limit for alcohol consumption is no more than two standard drinks* on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from either alcohol-related disease or injury.

It’s important to understand that doing these will help lower the risk of you getting dementia any may keep you healthier for longer. And although it’s not a guarantee that you won’t ever get dementia, preventative measures are something we can all consider to help us live longer with a better quality of life gives you the best chance for the future.

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