As we learn more about the causes of dementia, growing evidence of a healthy lifestyle is likely to reduce the risk of decline. Here are some of the ways to lower your risk of dementia:

  1. Lower your blood pressure. Evidence is growing that the lower your systolic blood pressure that you have, the less risk you have of cognitive impairment. Lowering your systolic blood pressure to 120 reduces dementia risk by 15%. Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis researchers recently reported that one day Alzheimer’s disease might even be predicted years in advance by using an eye exam. The study showed that low blood flow to the retina, thickness of the retina and degradation of the optic nerve result in higher levels of amyloid or tau proteins which are usually found in Alzheimer’s patients years later. Diabetes and obesity result in higher risk for heart attacks and strokes that could also impair your cognitive health since your blood pressure is increased which increases the risk of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  2. Eat fruits and vegetables. The Mediterranean diet, a diet that is lower in fat and higher in fruits and vegetables, may reduce the risk of cognitive impairment. Eating leafy greens, berries and beans are examples of foods helpful for body and brain health.
  3. Be socially active. By getting together with others, there is stimulation of the brain. So, whether it is being a volunteer for any organization, pursuing a hobby with others, or simply getting together with friends and family, you should be socially engaged.
  4. Mentally challenge your brain. Whether it is taking a college course, playing strategic games like chess or bridge or simply building something, challenging your mind may benefit your brain.
  5. Sleep. We all know that when you get less sleep that you don’t think or remember as well. Thus, conditions affecting sleep such as sleep apnea and insomnia should be addressed for a healthier brain.
  6. Exercise. As mentioned in 1. above, your blood flow and blood pressure are important to your cognitive health. Thus, regular cardiovascular exercise heightens your heart rate and blood and oxygen flow to the brain and body which reduces risk of dementia. Older adults who don’t exercise are more likely to have memory issues.
  7. Don’t be stressed or depressed. Studies link depression with increased risk of cognitive decline. So, mental health issues should be addressed. As indicated above, being socially active and engaging in mentally stimulating activities are helpful for the health of your brain. Of course, higher stress leads to higher blood pressure which leads to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, etc. that could impair your mental health.
  8. Don’t smoke. Smoking also increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, etc. that increases the risk of a decline in cognitive health. Smoking causes the arteries to narrow which can increase blood pressure.
  9. Omega 3 diet. A diet high in Omega 3 such as salmon, tuna, milk and eggs is healthier for your heart and brain and reduces risk in cognitive decline. Sodium, sweet sugary beverages and red meats should be limited.
  10. Protect your head from injury. Dementia could result from brain injury. Wear a helmet if you play contact sports or if you ride a bicycle. You should make sure your living arrangements reduce fall risks. Also wear a seat belt when you are in a car.
  11. Don’t drink too much alcohol. Although a daily glass of wine is not harmful (and may actually be helpful), excessive amounts of alcohol increases your risk of stroke, heart disease and could damage the nervous system, including the brain so some end up with alcohol-induced dementia.
  12. Vitamins and supplements. Certain B vitamins (such as B-12) help slow memory decline if taken for at least 18 months (many older adults don’t absorb B-12 properly from food).

Curcumin, found in the spice turmeric, can also help in improving memory and thinking abilities. Some researchers say curcumin users have less buildup of amyloid and tau in their brains – which are two proteins that are known as biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease.

Cocoa flavanols (found in chocolate) have been linked to improved memory and thinking skills. Hershey’s powder has been found to have the highest levels of flavanols with the least contamination of heavy metals.

We hope you might consider jointing our walk team, Michael’s Marchers, at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 13, 2018. It’s fun (you’ll be socially active which is helpful as indicated above) and you’ll get a little exercise (also helpful). Even if you don’t attend, help support the fight against Alzheimer’s by joining our team by clicking here.

Click here to listen to Michael Cohen’s podcast on alzheimer’s prevention!

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