Source: Unsplash

5 Simple Lifestyle Choices That Could Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s by 60%

Making these five lifestyle adjustments could decrease your chance of developing Alzheimer’s by 60%, new research suggests.

Study highlights five factors that could decrease your risk of Alzheimer’s by 60%

A study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles last month found that combining five lifestyle habits – including eating healthily, exercising regularly and refraining from smoking – can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 60%. The compiled report stated that even adopting four of the five maintained the same 60% reduction. — reports the GoodNewsNetwork. A separate study showed that lifestyle choices can lower risk even for those who are genetically predisposed to the disease. 

The factors included in the study were:

  • getting 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week
  • not smoking
  • limiting alcohol to one drink per day
  • participating in cognitive stimulation (such as puzzles, or other problem-solving tasks)
  • a “good diet” (mostly vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, seafood, poultry and olive oil—and avoiding pastries, sweets, fried food, and too much red meat or saturated fats).

a healthy diet, at least 150 minutes/week of moderate to vigorous physical activity, not smoking, light to moderate alcohol intake, and engaging in cognitively stimulating activities.
The researchers focused on five low-risk lifestyle factors: a healthy diet, at least 150 minutes/week of moderate to vigorous physical activity, not smoking, light to moderate alcohol intake, and engaging in cognitively stimulating activities. Source: Unsplash/JosZwaan

Lifestyle Practices Provide Maximum Memory Benefit When Combined

Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago who managed the study were confident there would be some link between the lifestyle factors and cognitive outcomes, but co-author and professor Klodian Dhana said that he and the other authors of the study were all shocked by the “magnitude of the effect.”

The researchers focused on five low-risk lifestyle factors: healthy diet, at least 150 minutes/week of moderate to vigorous physical activity, not smoking, light to moderate alcohol intake, and engaging in cognitively stimulating activities.

However, not all of the study’s participants were stringent in adopting all five of the listed habits over the course of the 6 to 9 years of research—and this revealed another promising statistic: for those who added just one of the healthier lifestyle choices to whatever their current number of factors was, the risk of dementia decreased by an additional 22%.

Even for most people with a genetic predisposition to dementia, a healthy lifestyle can be equally protective, according to a separate study of over 200,000 individuals published by JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, on the same day. 

“While there is no proven cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s, a large body of research now strongly suggests that combining healthy habits promotes good brain health and reduces your risk of cognitive decline,” said Maria C. Carrillo, PhD, Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer. “The research reported today at AAIC gives us attainable, actionable recommendations that can help us all live a healthier life.”

“This study highlights the importance of following multiple healthy lifestyle practices for lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia,” said Dhana. “In the U.S., adherence to a healthy lifestyle is low, and therefore promoting these lifestyle factors should become the primary goal for public health policies.”

Source: GoodNewsNetwork & alz.org

The researchers found that, compared to non-smokers, “heavy stable” smokers were 1.5 to 2.2 times more likely to have cognitive impairment, while “quitters” and “minimal stable” smokers did not have an increased risk. They also found cumulative smoking exposure in people who smoked a pack a day for more than 10 years was associated with poor cognitive function. Cognitive impairment was observed among smokers as early as their 40s.
Cigarette Smoking May Reduce Cognitive Function as Early as in Mid-Life. The researchers found that, compared to non-smokers, “heavy stable” smokers were 1.5 to 2.2 times more likely to have cognitive impairment, while “quitters” and “minimal stable” smokers did not have an increased risk. They also found cumulative smoking exposure in people who smoked a pack a day for more than 10 years was associated with poor cognitive function. Cognitive impairment was observed among smokers as early as their 40s. Source: Unsplash/Sunrise
Excessive alcohol consumption over a lengthy time period can lead to brain damage, and may increased risk of developing dementia, say the Alzheimer’s Society UK. However, drinking alcohol in moderation has not been conclusively linked to an increased dementia risk. Those who drink alcohol within the recommended guidelines are not advised to stop on the grounds of reducing the risk of dementia, although cutting back on alcohol consumption may bring other health benefits.
Limiting alcohol to one drink per day Excessive alcohol consumption over a lengthy time period can lead to brain damage, and may increased risk of developing dementia, say the Alzheimer’s Society UK. However, drinking alcohol in moderation has not been conclusively linked to an increased dementia risk. Those who drink alcohol within the recommended guidelines are not advised to stop on the grounds of reducing the risk of dementia, although cutting back on alcohol consumption may bring other health benefits. Source: Unsplash/KelseyChance
The Mediterranean diet incorporates different principles of healthy eating that are typically found in the areas bordering the Mediterranean Sea: Focus on fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains. Replace butter with healthy fats, like olive oil. Limit red meat. Use herbs to flavor food rather than salt. Eat fish and poultry at least twice a week.
Eating a heart-healthy diet benefits both your body and your brain. The Mediterranean diet incorporates different principles of healthy eating that are typically found in the areas bordering the Mediterranean Sea: Focus on fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains. Replace butter with healthy fats, like olive oil. Limit red meat. Use herbs to flavor food rather than salt. Eat fish and poultry at least twice a week. Source: Unsplash/KevinMcCutcheon

If you can’t adopt all five of the health lifestyle habits, try to at least adopt one or two

Researchers from Rush University Medical Center tracked 2,765 older adults enrolled in either the Chicago Health and Aging Project or the Rush Memory and Aging Project over about a decade.

The researchers assessed each participants’ Alzheimer’s disease risk as it relates to five lifestyle factors:

  • Diet;
  • Exercise regimen;
  • Alcohol consumption;
  • Smoking status; and
  • Engagement in mentally stimulating activities, such as reading or crossword puzzles.

The researchers then assigned a score of "1" or "0" for each factor. A score of 1 represented a healthy behavior, such as a diet avoiding red meats and fried foods, having just one glass of wine a day, or engaging in mentally stimulating activities two to three times a week. A score of 0 represented an unhealthy behavior.

Participants with a total score of 4 or 5 were found to be 60% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared with participants who scored a 0 or 1. According to Klodian Dhana, a professor at Rush University and co-author of the study, these results did not vary by race or gender.

Dhana told the Washington Post he and his co-authors expected that leading a healthier life would decrease dementia risk, but were shocked by the "magnitude of the effect."

Dhana added that if you can’t adopt all five of the health lifestyle habits the researchers studied, try to at least adopt one or two. "My biggest takeaway is I encourage older people to consume more leafy green vegetables, replace red meat with poultry, and avoid as much as possible fried food," Dhana said. "Also, walk to the grocery store and read books!" 

Source: Advisory.com

Learn something new, such as a second language or a musical instrument. Play board games with your kids or grandkids. Or get your friends together for a weekly game of cards. Mix it up by trying new games. The extra bonus of activities like these? Social connections also help your brain. Work on crossword, number, or other kinds of puzzles. Play online memory games or video games. Read, write, or sign up for local adult education classes.
Brain training may help slow memory loss and other mental problems. Learn something new, such as a second language or a musical instrument. Play board games with your kids or grandkids. Or get your friends together for a weekly game of cards. Mix it up by trying new games. The extra bonus of activities like these? Social connections also help your brain. Work on crossword, number, or other kinds of puzzles. Play online memory games or video games. Read, write, or sign up for local adult education classes. Source: Unsplash/ValVesa

10 Ways to Love Your Brain

Growing evidence indicates that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by adopting key lifestyle habits. When possible, combine these habits to achieve maximum benefit for the brain and body. Start now. It’s never too late or too early to incorporate healthy habits.

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