Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, but there are several other types. Each one has a different cause and effects people in different ways. Most dementia develops as a result of either a biological cause or a physical event in the body. Our biggest risk factors which include age and family history cant be changed unfortunately, but studies have recently shown that we can modify other things in our life that can help reduce the risk of being diagnosed with this disease.
We are told over and over how important it is to maintain a healthy diet-for a number of reason. However, we don’t often hear how our brains need healthy food too. Vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and lean protein are crucial in order for our brains to properly function. Research shows that people who have high saturated fat diets are more likely to develop dementia. This includes drinking alcohol. Memory loss and dementia set in when we start to have cognitive issues from drinking too much. Moderation is key, one drink a day (for both men and women) is considered ok.
Having hypertension and diabetes are also a red flag for developing dementia, managing these with proper medications, diet, and exercise can lower the risk significantly. See your physician regularly to stay on top of any issues you may have. Mental stimulation is just as essential as physical. Play a game, do a puzzle – use strategic thinking to keep your brain active. Smoking causes many health issues as we know and dementia is one of them. Those who smoke are at risk for many types of dementia-Alzheimer’s specifically. However, quitting can still lower the risk so do it now-don’t wait.
In the chaotic world we live in today, finding time for our family, friends, and ourselves can help in the prevention of dementia. Brigham and Women’s Hospital published a study that found an association between feelings of loneliness and social isolation with a build up of beta-amyloid (a protein in the brain linked to Alzheimer’s). Make time for things and people you enjoy, give yourself a break. Lastly, not getting enough rest, or too much of it, isn’t good for our bodies and brains either. It’s best practice to set a bedtime schedule that you can routinely stick to. Insomnia and sleep apnea are both linked to Alzheimer’s. As we age or sleep requirements change – a 25 year old obviously will require less rest than a 65 year old. Use of sleeping aids, such as medication like Benadryl, can also cause issues, discuss these with your doctor before using.
For more information on dementia click on the link below.