Dementia – Can We Do Anything to Reduce the Risk

Written by Active Minds on Friday the 14th of July 2017.

News

Whilst, unfortunately, there is no definitive way to prevent dementia, there are a number of lifestyle changes you can make that will help lower your chance of developing the disease.

shutterstock_481576618

Diet & Weight

Keep your salt intake low (no more than 6 grams a day). A high salt diet increases your blood pressure. This uncontrolled high blood pressure can start to damage the blood vessels in your brain, causing them to narrow and perhaps, over time, become blocked or burst. Once the vessel is blocked, then the blood cannot carry energy and oxygen to that part of your brain, causing some of the cells to be damaged or die. This can then affect your memory, thinking or language skills.

Ensure you eat a healthy diet, consisting of low-fat, high-fibre food such as whole grains like quinoa and leafy greens, such as kale or spinach.

A nutritious diet will, in turn, help to keep your weight at a healthy level (a BMI between 18.5 to 25 is ideal), again minimising high blood pressure.

Alcohol

Whilst the occasional glass of wine is not an issue, trying to keep your alcohol consumption low is a great idea, not just for your overall health but as a way to reduce your risk of a dementia diagnosis when you are older.

Alcohol not only causes your blood pressure to rise, which can lead to an increased chance of developing certain types of dementia, but also increases the level of cholesterol in your blood. High cholesterol can cause your artery walls to thicken, affecting the blood supply to your brain, which can lead to you developing dementia.

The recommended daily limit for alcohol consumption is three to four units of alcohol a day for men, and two to three units a day for women.

Exercise

Whilst exercise, along with a healthy and balanced diet, will help to keep your weight at an optimal level, regular exercise ensures that your heart and blood circulatory systems are kept in a good condition.

Exercise doesn’t need to be mile-long marathons, about 2 and a half hours of exercise that gets your heart pumping a week is ideal.

shutterstock_174163421

Quit Smoking

We all know it, but it’s worth mentioning again, smoking is bad for you. It causes cancer, cardiovascular disease and COPD, as well as a whole host of other illnesses. In terms of dementia, smoking causes your arteries to narrow which can lead to your blood pressure rising, thus increasing your risk of developing dementia.