Worried about developing dementia? Wondering what you can do to lower your risks? This post is for you! Below, I have listed several things that everyone can do to lower their risk for developing dementia through a healthy lifestyle. While doing these activities is no guarantee that you won’t develop dementia, they will lower your lifestyle-related risks. YOU CAN take your health into your own hands!
- Exercise your brain – regularly stimulate your brain to keep it functioning and building new connections. Learn something new, read, take up a new hobby, visit a museum, see a play or movie, or continue working (paid or volunteer). Read more information on staying mentally active from Alzheimer’s Association.
- Stay social – social activity and connection with your community are not only important for your psychological well-being, but also for your brain’s health! Social activities stimulate multiple areas of our brains (sights, smells, sounds to name a few) and serve to both activate old memories and form new ones. Take a walk with friends, stop by and visit with the neighbor, join a community club, or volunteer with a community organization. Read more ideas to stay social from Your Brain Matters.
- Alcohol in moderation – avoid drinking too much alcohol (4 units per day for men, and 3 unites per day for women is too much), and know that a bit of alcohol is good for your body. It is a trade-off, and that is why moderation is key. A bit of alcohol can help to increase your healthy cholesterol, aid in digestion, reduce your risk of blood clots, and reduce your risk for diabetes, but can increase your risk for breast cancer, heart disease, or liver disease. More on alcohol from Mayo Clinic and DrinkAware.
- Have a healthy diet – have a variety of foods in your diet, include lots of fresh vegetables and Omega-3 fats (soy, canola oil, flaxseed oil, fatty fish like salmon and mackrel) and avoid sugar. Try trading dinner with friends or neighbors one night a week to mix things up, designate one day per week as vegetarian day, or have “new recipe night” at least once per week. Read more about healthy foods to prevent dementia from Mind Body Green.
- Rock your body – get physical! Regular exercise (minimum of 30 minutes, 5 days per week) gets the lungs going and blood pumping, both of which are great for your brain health. In fact, exercise is one of the best things you can do to have a healthy life, including to lower your risk for dementia. If you find you sit for long periods, try breaking it up by walking to the mailbox during commercial breaks, or standing up and stretching once an hour. Exercise also helps to keep depression at bay, stimulates our feel-good hormones, and is a great way to prevent mobility problems and muscle wasting as we age. Take walks, bicycle, do yoga or tai chi, play golf, garden, or find an exercise video on youtube. Read more about exercise to prevent dementia through Alzheimer’s Society.
- Watch your blood pressure – if you have high blood pressure, it increases your risk for developing dementia and other chronic conditions. Talk to your doctor about treating your high blood pressure, be sure to have a healthy diet, and get some regular exercise. Read more about preventing high blood pressure and dementia from Mercola.
- Watch your weight – obesity is not good for anyone and puts strain on many areas of your body. Being overweight or obese in mid-life is a risk factor for developing dementia later in life. Add more fresh vegetables to your diet, get regular exercise, and talk to your doctor about how you can get your weight into a healthy range. Read more about managing your weight at MedicineNet.com.
- Check your cholesterol – having high cholesterol increases your risk for developing dementia. Read more about foods that can help lower your cholesterol from Prevention.com.
- Watch out for type 2 diabetes – this type of diabetes is related to lifestyle and increases your risk for developing dementia later in life, as well as other chronic complications. Diet and exercise are the best things you can do to prevent type 2 diabetes as well as part of your plan to treat diabetes. Read about how to control type 2 diabetes from Web MD.
- Stay away from smoke – smoking is a big risk factor for developing dementia, even being around smoking (passive smoking or second-hand smoke) can increase your risk for dementia. Read about the links between smoking and dementia from Mercola, and tips to quit smoking from Forget Me Not Days and Help Guide.
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