Healthy Lifestyle reduces the Risks of Dementia

Dementia is the loss of cognitive abilities and behaviours that can interfere with day to day functions like memory, language skills, problem-solving and even simple focus tasks. Patients often must bear the insufferable pain of having to be a burden to someone. However, research has shown that improving your lifestyle habits can rid the changes of having to face the harsh symptoms of dementia.

Simply put, everyone can lower their risk of dementia, despite some conditions brought on by hereditary traits. There are over 47 million dementia patients globally which constitutes to 5% of the world’s elderly or senior citizens. By 2030, it is predicted that the numbers will increase to 75 million and possibly 132 million by 2050.

A study, that was done by a team in the University of Exeter, examined about 200,000 participants in the UK for about 8 years. It showed that the risk of dementia was lowered by one-third.  The results are reassuring and empowering as it was now systematically proven.

However, for the results to be conclusive, researchers first had to determine what defines a ‘healthy lifestyle’. Based on a scoring sheet, the sample replied the following:

Non casual smokers;

Active cycling of at least two and half-hours a week. Aerobics is good as well;

An improved mental state is necessary;

A balanced diet of 3 portions of fruit and vegetables a day; 2 servings of fish a week and barely any processed meat, and

One pint of beer a day.

Along with the healthy diet and physical activity, participants’ DNA were assessed to determine their genetic risk and link to the disease. The study analysed 18 cases of dementia per 1,000 people as high-risk gene carriers which was further reinforced by their unhealthy choice of living. The study concluded a reduction of 11 per 1,000 people which can be small to some. However, considering most of the participants were in their mid-60s, the fact that a reduction occurred for that age group is still profound. It distinctively showed the differences in patterns in the data.

As there is still no cure to completely eradicate the disease entirely, having this alternative option is still highly favoured. A researcher at the Alzheimer’s Society, Fiona Carragher, mentioned:

“With one person developing dementia every three minutes in the UK, knowing how to lower our dementia risk couldn’t be more vital.”

The reality is that such simple procedures, like changing our lifestyles, can easily make us one step closer to having the upper hand with the battle against dementia.

References:

  1. Dementia risk linked to healthy lifestyle, July 2019, BBC Health
  2. How to reduce your risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s Society
  3. What Is Dementia? Symptoms, Types, and Diagnosis, NIH
  4. Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017 – 2025, WHO