According to Lancet Public Health estimates, the number of people with dementia worldwide will almost triple by 2050. But this devastating disease is not inevitable. Research shows you can prevent or delay the onset of dementia by 40% by changing your lifestyle.
“This rapid increase means that you or someone you know is very likely to be affected by this condition,” Francine Waskavitz, memory health coach, told Eat This, Not That! “Currently, there is no treatment for dementia. Your best defense is your lifestyle. The Lancet Commission estimates that modifiable lifestyle factors can prevent or delay up to 40% of cases of dementia. »
While many of these lifestyle risk factors are familiar, they remind us that acting on them can improve your health and add years of quality to your life.
“The earlier you start, the more protection you will have,” says Waskavitz.
Dr. Jacob Hascalovici, co-founder and chief medical officer of Clearing, a digital healthcare platform, reminds us that dementia doesn’t just affect people over 65. It can also affect younger people.
“Usually it involves changes that are more pervasive and concerning than just forgetting a word here and there or dealing with the occasional bout of brain fog,” he explains. “While it is difficult to predict exactly who might develop dementia, certain lifestyle habits make dementia more likely. These include getting too little sleep on a regular basis (usually less than six hours a night), eating foods that inflame body tissue (i.e. high fat foods, red meat, snacks high in sugar and processed foods), feeling lonely or being socially isolated for a long time, sitting often, smoking regularly, or drinking more than recommended.
Hascalovici adds that taking calcium supplements can increase the risk of dementia. ADHD, a family history of dementia, or a head injury can also contribute to an increased risk of contracting the disease.
But addressing the lifestyle factors mentioned, especially fitness, can reduce your risk of developing dementia.
“Overall fitness comes through a combination of eating right, like following the Mediterranean diet, and exercising or at least being active regularly,” says Hascalovici. “When you’re fit, you also reduce your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, heart disease, and many other conditions that increase your risk of dementia. Being fit is important whether you’re overweight or “lean fat” – fitness applies to everyone.”
According to the World Health Organization, up to 14% of Alzheimer’s disease cases can be attributed to smoking. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of getting the disease or delay its onset, says Eat This, Not That!
Other ways to lower your risk of dementia are to have your hearing checked annually, Waskavitz says. Hearing loss accounts for 8% of dementia cases worldwide.
“High blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity significantly increase your risk of dementia,” she says. “These are also three of the modifiable risk factors for the prevention of dementia. If you’re focused on reducing your risk of dementia, you need to know your numbers and aim to optimize them. A healthy diet and lifestyle are key to supporting both your physical and cognitive health as you age.
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