While there is no formula to follow to make sure you or a loved one is not diagnosed with dementia, there are several steps you might take to reduce the risk. Because dementia is triggered by a decline in brain function, each of these areas inadvertently are related to brain function.
1. Be physically active
Being physically active is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of getting dementia. Physical activity is a great way to keep your heart healthy, blood pressure low, weight under control, and even weight stable. A good exercise strategy is a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. Activities for beginners can include walking, yoga or swimming. Balance exercises are also key to keeping a healthy brain. Head traumas from falling or losing your balance can contribute to your risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
2. Eat Healthily
A healthy, balanced diet may reduce your risk of dementia, as well as other conditions including cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke and heart disease. Experts encourage eating leafy green vegetables, berries, whole grains, beans, nuts and olive oil. Foods that are anti-inflammatory and have antioxidant properties can protect against disease and keep the brain healthy.
If you smoke, you’re putting yourself at much higher risk of developing dementia. You’re also increasing your risk of other conditions, including type 2 diabetes, stroke, and lung and other cancers.
Smoking does a lot of harm to the circulation of blood around the body, including the blood vessels in the brain, as well as the heart and lungs.
4. Drink Less Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol increases your risk of developing dementia.
At most, you should aim to drink no more than 14 units each week. If you regularly drink much more than this, you’re at risk of alcohol-related brain damage.
If you drink as many as 14 units in a week, try to spread them out over at least three days.
5. Exercise Your Mind
Keeping your mind active is likely to reduce your risk of dementia. Regularly challenging yourself mentally seems to build up the brain’s ability to cope with disease. One way to think about it is ‘Use it or lose it’.