Aging can be beautiful, as you reflect on a life that’s been filled with joy and love, however, it can also be frightening. As the population ages, there are common concerns regarding your physical and mental health. We eat well in order to reduce our risk of heart disease, avoid smoking to reduce our risk of lung cancer, but what about dementia?
Although there isn’t one magical preventative measure, there are a combination of factors which influence your susceptibility. Since your heart and brain health are so closely linked, it’s critical that you follow a healthy, balanced lifestyle. This will simply lower your risk of conditions such as heart attacks or strokes, which have been correlated with the development of dementia.
How to Effectively Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Since there are so many potential contributing factors, including biological and environmental influences, there isn’t one straight forward prevention plan that can ensure stable mental health in the future. With that being said, there are various factors that are in your direct control. Target the following and you will significantly reduce your risk.
Follow a Balanced and Nutrient-Rich Diet
You know the saying, you are what you eat? Well, there is most certainly some truth to that. When aiming to prevent dementia, whether you’re reducing your risk of vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s, a healthy diet can support cognitive functioning and overall brain health.
It’s believed that a low-fat diet, rich in fiber and plant-based nutrients can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s. You should also consume lean protein options, such as pastured chicken and wild fish. In terms of fat, reduce your intake of highly processed items and food that are packed with saturated or trans-fats, while increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. This will also help you reduce your risk of high cholesterol.
For those that suffer from hypertension, for instance, reducing your intake of salt is also recommended. Although some salt is critical for optimal health, avoid table salt and consume no more than six grams daily. The same is true regarding diabetes and sugar intake, as controlled blood glucose levels can significantly lower your risk.
Stay Physically Active
We all know exercise is good for us, but did you know it will actually reduce your risk of dementia later in life? This is due to the positive impact of exercise on your heart and circulatory system. When you exercise regularly, you also help maintain a healthy blood pressure while lowering cholesterol levels.
On average, you should exercise a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes each week, taking part in moderate-intensity activities. Even walking for 30 minutes daily can yield significant positive effects. In turn, you’ll also support a healthier weight. Being overweight can increase your risk of a wide range of health complications, including dementia.
Quit Smoking and Drinking Excessively
Are you a smoker? If so, you are placing immense stress on your arteries and essentially your brain. Not only do you need to be concerned about dementia, but also a wide range of cardiovascular diseases and cancer as well. For those who drink excessively, you are placing your brain, liver, kidney, and cardiovascular health at risk. Limit your consumption to two units daily for men and one unit daily for women.
The key is balance. If you follow a balanced and healthy lifestyle, you will be working towards positive well-being in the future. Although there are many potential factors regarding dementia, reducing your risk can make a significant difference in terms of your future health.
NHS. (2015). Can Dementia Be Prevented? National Health Services. Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia-guide/pages/dementia-prevention.aspx