Exercise: Many studies have found that physically active older adults have a lower risk of dementia. This also applies to those who are physically active at mid-life as well. Men who walked two miles a day were less likely to develop dementia when followed for the next six years. Exercise is proven not only to prevent, but also treat dementia.
Social Engagement: Those with solid social networks or who participate in socially engaging activities have a lower risk of dementia than those with fewer social connections.
Helping Your Heart: You are at greater risk of Alzheimer’s if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, stroke, and inflammation in the body. Hypertension during mid-life has been associated with an increased risk of dementia. The use of anti hypertensive drugs in these individuals lowers the risk of dementia.
Diabetes during mid- or late life is associated with an increased risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Individuals with diabetes also have a faster cognitive decline during the normal aging process.
Individuals with high cholesterol and other lipids are at a higher risk of dementia. Clinical studies using statin drugs to lower cholesterol show inconsistency with regards to whether or not this class of drug lowers the incidence of dementia.Obesity is also a known culprit.
Diet & Supplements: Many of the above health factors can be greatly impacted by dietary factors, so it is not surprising to find that diet could alter the risk of dementia as well. The Mediterranean diet and greater consumption of vegetables and fruits have been associated with a lowered risk of dementia. Eating more fish could also be protective.
Antioxidants you get through your diet or from supplements like vitamins C and E could lower the risk of dementia. However, randomized, controlled trials on vitamin E supplementation have failed to confirm the beneficial effects seen in observational studies.
Here are some other ways you could prevent or treat Alzheimer’s:
— Reduce your exposure to certain toxins, such as organic solvents, heavy metals (aluminum, mercury), and alcohol
— Reduce your intake of unnecessary drugs
— Avoid estrogens alone or in combination with progesterone
— Avoid high-dose vitamin E (over 400 international units a day), as it has been associated with increased risk of stroke
— Reduce physiologic or psychological stresses and depression
— Look into genetic counseling (for adult children with a family history of Alzheimer’s)
— Reduce your risk of serious head injury by wearing seatbelts, and wearing helmets during contact sports and when skateboarding, bicycling and skiing
Read my previous article in this series: How Our Minds Betray Us