Charity group Age UK claims there are five lifestyle-related factors that cut the risk of dementia. The group cites a study it currently funds: the University of Edinburgh’s The Disconnected Mind project.
Estimates and Figures
The rate of the brain’s ageing depends greatly on lifestyle. According to Age UK, 76% of the changes in this part of the body happen due to lifestyle factors.
The new findings of The Disconnected Mind project support previous studies that show a link between lifestyle factors and overall health. In the Age UK-funded study, lifestyle factors can reduce the risk of dementia by as much as 36%.
“While there’s still no cure or way to reverse dementia, this evidence shows that there are simple and effective ways to reduce our risk of developing it to begin with,” said Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams.
Government estimates show there are around 850,000 UK residents who have dementia.
Five Lifestyle Changes
The five factors are body weight, smoking, diet, exercise, and alcohol intake. Scoring well in all these factors cuts down the risk of dementia and related diseases by up to 36%, the study finds.
For the body weight, the study’s basis is the body mass index (BMI). The study recommends having a BMI of 18.5 to 24.99 to be healthy. Overweight and obese people tend to develop dementia more.
Exercise is essential three to five times per week. Each session should last between 30 minutes to an hour for the best effects on the overall health.
In terms of smoking, the best advice is to stop the vice altogether. Nevertheless, the study highlights a claim made by many scientists about how smokers can gain 10 more years in life span by quitting at the age of 40.
The case is not quite the same in the case of alcohol intake. The study says it is fine to consume alcohol moderately, which means at most three units per day for men and two for women. Abstinence to alcohol is not healthy.
As for the diet, the study recommends the Mediterranean diet the most. This particular diet plan focuses on dishes that are high in “healthy” fats, whole grains, nuts, and fish. Olive oil, for one, is a good example of an ingredient in the Mediterranean diet. This also has a low intake of dairy products and red meat, which makes it even healthier. Fruit and vegetables are also a crucial part of the diet.