16 Lifestyle Decisions That Could Protect You Against Dementia

As we grow older, the possibility of developing dementia becomes a concern, as it threatens to take away our cherished memories and independence.

However, a recent report by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) has identified 16 controllable lifestyle factors that could significantly impact the risk of developing this debilitating condition.

The first group of factors are directly related to our physical health.

High blood pressure, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, smoking, exposure to air pollution, and diabetes all contribute to the risk of dementia by affecting our cardiovascular health.

These factors also influence our probability of experiencing strokes and the overall health of our brains. Additionally, repeated head injuries commonly seen in contact sports like rugby or boxing can increase the risk of dementia.

However, not all factors are physical. Some factors relate to how we use our brains and interact with society. Hearing loss, depression, a lack of education, and social isolation have been associated with an increased risk of dementia.

In addition to these 12 factors, researchers at ADI identified four more risks. One of them is a poor diet, especially one that includes a significant amount of ultra-processed foods (UPFs).

These highly processed foods, containing emulsifiers, preservatives, artificial flavorings, and sweeteners, have been linked to poor cardiovascular health and cognitive decline.

Although the exact mechanism is unclear, UPF consumption is associated with known risk factors for dementia, such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Untreated sight loss was another risk factor identified. Theories suggest that vision loss leads to the brain overcompensating for the lack of this sense, which is known as cognitive load.

This, combined with fewer opportunities for brain stimulation and an increased risk of social isolation and poor psychological health, could raise the risk of dementia.

Tooth loss was another factor highlighted in the ADI report. Research has found that losing a tooth increases the risk of dementia by 1.1%, and losing 20 teeth raises the risk to 31%. However, using dentures to treat tooth loss appears to reduce this risk.

Lastly, having poor sleep patterns in middle age may contribute to a higher risk of dementia later in life. Sleep helps eliminate the build-up of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease, so a consistent lack of sleep inhibits this process, leading to an increased risk of dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease, characterized by progressive memory loss and difficulties in daily activities, is the most common cause of dementia. It is not a standalone disease but rather a consequence of another condition.

While there is no cure for dementia, these findings provide hope. By addressing these 16 modifiable risk factors, we have the potential to prevent millions of dementia cases.

This article appeared in Mainstpress and has been published here with permission.

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Written by Western Reader

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