While getting older is the biggest risk factor for dementia, there are many lifestyle factors that can increase or decrease your risk of developing the disease. In this article, we’ll explore the top seven ways you can explore the link between lifestyle modifications and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Exercise. Exercise has many benefits for your overall health, including lowering your risk of dementia. It can also improve your heart health, lower your risk of things like diabetes and hypertension, improve your circulation, and improve your mental wellbeing. You want to aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. You can also incorporate strength training as well.
- Eating healthy. Just like exercise, eating healthy is a crucial step to improve your health as a whole, including lowering your risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s. Eating healthy can reduce your risk of other conditions like cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke, and heart disease. A good start is eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish and other lean meats and less of red meat, high fat dairy products, sugary treats, and salt.
- Quit smoking. While there are many reasons to quit smoking, smoking can increase your risk of dementia (in addition to many other conditions). Even if you have smoked for years, it’s never too late to quit.
- Drink less alcohol. Much like smoking, alcohol is not very beneficial for your health and can increase your risk of developing dementia, among other health issues. Aim to drink alcohol in moderation if you don’t want to cut it out altogether.
- Stay social. Engaging with other is great for your brain. It can help to cope with disease, relieve stress, and improve your mood, and it can also help lower your risk of dementia. While this can look like spending time with friends and family, it can also mean taking an educational class, volunteering, exercising with others, or joining a new club.
- Keep your brain active. Your brain needs a challenge sometimes, so find activities to do just that. Activities that engage your mind, process information, and works your critical thinking skills is good for your brain and can lower your risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s. You can take up a new musical instrument, read books, play card or board games, do brain teasers like puzzles or crosswords, or even learn a new language to challenge your brain.
- Take control of your health. Other chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes can increase your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Many of the lifestyle factors including in this list can help lower your risk of these conditions, but if you already have a chronic condition, talk to your healthcare provider about how to best manage it.