Six healthy lifestyle habits that prevent dementia

Dementia is the term used to describe a group of symptoms such as memory impairment, confusion, and loss of ability to accomplish daily tasks. Globally, nearly 50 million have the condition, with 10 million new cases recorded each year. The risk of having dementia increases with age, but this does not mean that it is a normal part of aging. Thus, it can be prevented. Here are six healthy lifestyle habits you can do to avoid dementia:

  1. Participate in mentally-stimulating tasks – The brain can be strengthened through workplace achievement and leisure activities, such as reading newspapers, playing card games, or learning a new language or skill. Evidence suggests that engaging in memory and problem-solving strategies in groups could enhance long-term cognitive function. This is not confined to computerized brain-training programs. Participating in mentally-stimulating activities in a social setting may also add to the success of cognitive training.
  2. Keep in contact with friends and relatives – Socializing with friends and relatives is associated with a reduced risk of dementia. Moreover, being more involved in group or community activities is linked to a lowered risk as well.
  3. Keep a healthy weight and a healthy heart – Heart and brain health are strongly associated. High blood pressure and obesity, particularly during mid-life, raise dementia risk. These conditions, when combined, may account for more than 12 percent of dementia cases. In a study of more than 40,000 individuals, those who had Type 2 diabetes were twice more likely to developing dementia compared to healthy individuals.
  4. Be more active – Physical activity can help prevent cognitive decline. In a study of more than 33,000 people, individuals who exercised more had a 38 percent smaller chance of cognitive decline than those who were inactive. For adults, a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, swimming, and biking, every day is recommended. (Related: Reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by walking FAST and OFTEN.)
  5. Refrain from smoking – Cigarette smoking is not only harmful to the heart and lungs, but to the brain as well. The chemicals in cigarettes trigger inflammation and vascular changes in the brain. Moreover, they can also trigger oxidative stress, in which free radicals can damage the cells. These processes may play a role in the development of dementia. In addition, the risk of dementia is greater in current smokers in comparison to past smokers and non-smokers.
  6. Ask for help if you are suffering from depression – Depression is a risk factor for dementia. In depression, some changes in the brain occur and may influence the risk of dementia. In addition, high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, have been associated with the shrinkage of areas in the brain that are essential for memory. Research also suggest that long-term oxidative stress and inflammation may also cause depression and dementia. A 28-year study with over 10,000 participants also discovered that the risk of dementia only increased in those who had depression in the ten years before diagnosis.

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