How to Prevent Dementia
If you are concerned about how to prevent dementia, you are right to be thinking proactively – based on U.S. Census Bureau data, the number of people with Alzheimer’s will nearly triple by 2050—and the percentage of seniors with dementia will steadily increase. But keep reading because there are a number of very sound recommendations you’re about to get on how to prevent dementia.
While the statistics and related predictions about increased prevalence of dementia are frightening, its not all bad news – there is a surprising piece of good news on the dementia front… According to a report in Scientific American, analyses conducted over the last decade in the U.S., Canada, England, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark suggest that “a 75- to 85-year-old has a lower risk of having Alzheimer’s today than 15 or 20 years ago” – despite ongoing reports of a dementia epidemic in these countries. In a study funded by The National Institute on Aging (NIA), which surveys a representative sample of 20,000 older adults in the U.S. every two years, the percent of adults over 70 years of age with cognitive impairment dropped from 12.2 to 8.7 between 1993 and 2002. Similar results were seen in studies in the Netherlands and the UK.
Why the improved risk rate in these studies when the US Census data appears to say something quite different?
Its likely because as people become more informed about the risk factors for dementia, they are making intentionally healthier and preventative choices that help reduce their risk factors. Overall, educated people are becoming more aware of what constitutes healthier lifestyle choices, and are becoming more well informed of preventative measures. The average middle class person knows so much more about maintaining health today than we did even 20 years ago.
If you do nothing to help mitigate the risks of developing dementia, you may be in a higher risk group for developing dementia (in keeping with the prediction based on US Census data). BUT, if you have an awareness of what you can do to prevent dementia, and incorporate these measures into your lifestyle, you have the advantage and the ability to beat the odds.
But first, its important to understand that dementia isn’t just one disease -there are literally many different types of dementia, with many different causes.
For example, the type of dementia may be Alzheimers, Lewey Bodies, Parkisons, or Vascular Dementia, etc.
It may be caused by not enough blood flow to the brain (as in the case of vascular dementia) or by tangles in the brain (Alzhiemers).
In some cases of dementia, no discernable cause is ever identified and therefore, the type of dementia the patient has remains a mystery, as is sadly the case with my wonderful mom. So the answer on how to prevent dementia is not “one size fits all”.
There is no certain way to prevent all types of dementia, but there are many things you can do to decrease your risk of developing dementia, and there are certain supplements and vitamins you can take to help protect your brain and prevent dementia.
Brain degeneration typically begins long before a person ever starts developing symptoms (except in situations such as head injury, acute infection to the brain, or stroke), so its really important to adopt a dementia prevention mindset early on, long before you are at the age where dementia becomes a serious risk.
For starters, adhering to a healthy lifestyle can help lower your risk of developing dementia when you are older and is the first step in dementia prevention. Along the way, maintaining a healthy lifestyle also prevents other diseases like cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and heart attacks.
So that means eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, don’t drink too much alcohol (but a little is actually healthy), don’t smoke, and make sure to keep your blood pressure in healthy ranges.
Blood pressure control is really important in dementia prevention, because vascular issues can prevent sufficient blood flow and oxygen to the brain, and when the brain doesn’t get enough of these essentials, brain cells begin to die, and dementia ensues. There are vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements which you can take that are helpful in controlling blood pressure to keep blood pressure within healthy ranges naturally.
In addition to all of that, taking certain vitamins, minerals or herbal supplements which are known to help prevent dementia is highly advisable.
Monitor Your Cholesterol
Keep a close eye on your cholesterol levels and take steps to keep them within healthy ranges. A lot of the advice listed below is conducive to that. In addition, there are certain nutritional supplements you can take to help naturally control cholesterol, so get a fast handle on that if your cholesterol levels get out of normal range (cholesterol lowering prescription meds and drugs can introduce a whole slew of other health problems, so its best to take a holistic approach to controlling cholesterol if possible).
Help Prevent Dementia With a Healthy Diet
The National Health Service in the UK tells us:
A low-fat, high-fibre diet including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains can help reduce your risk of some kinds of dementia.
Limiting the amount of salt in your diet to no more than six grams a day can also help. Too much salt will increase your blood pressure, which puts you at risk of developing some types of dementia.
High cholesterol levels may also put you at risk of developing some kinds of dementia, so try to limit the amount of food you eat that is high in saturated fat.
Control Your Weight to Help Prevent Dementia
When you are overweight, blood pressure tends to become elevated, and we already talked about the impact of high blood pressure in contributing to dementia, so the link between weight control and dementia prevention should be clear.
Again citing the National Health Service in the UK, “The most scientific way to measure your weight is to calculate your body mass index (BMI). You can calculate your BMI using the BMI healthy weight calculator. People with a BMI of 25-30 are overweight, and those with a BMI above 30 are obese. People with a BMI of 40 or more are morbidly obese.”
Regular Exercise for Dementia Prevention
Exercising regularly makes your heart and circulatory system srtonger and more efficient. It also helps lower your cholesterol and keep your blood pressure at a healthy level, decreasing your risk of developing some kinds of dementia. Typically, a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week, such as cycling or fast walking, is recommended.
Use Alcohol in Moderation to Prevent Dementia
Overindulging in alcohol causing a rise in your blood pressure and raises the level of cholesterol in your blood – two risk factors for dementia. Adhere to the recommended daily limit for alcohol consumption: three to four units of alcohol a day for men, and two to three units a day for women. A unit of alcohol is equal to about half a pint of normal-strength beer, a small glass of wine or a 25ml of spirits.
Smoking can cause your arteries to narrow, which leads to a rise in your blood pressure and also impedes proper flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. We’ve already discussed how these factors can lead to dementia in addition to cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Vitamins, Herbs and Supplements for Dementia Prevention***
This one is so important in dementia prevention, and yet, so many people are unaware of the many different supplements, minerals and vitamins which have a powerful impact in protecting the brain from degeneration and preventig dementia.
In addition to the guidelines cited above for preventing dementia, there are certain specific vitamins, herbs and supplements which can be extremely helpful in dementia prevention. Particular herbs, vitamins or other nutritional can help support brain health and prevent dementia in a variety of different ways. Some herbal supplements or vitamins protect the brain, while others feed and nourish the brain. Some herbs or vitamins help ensure a healthy level of oxygen and blood flow to the brain.
Learn which vitamins, herbs or supplements are beneficial in preventing dementia and then design a dementia prevention supplement regime for yourself to follow of you are interested in how to prevent dementia and keep you brain healthy and your mind sharp well into old age.