Although many older adults suffer from dementia, Age UK, the largest charity for older people in the United Kingdom, reveals that it is possible to prevent the onset of the disease and all its takes is make basic lifestyle changes.
On Dec. 15, the charity said that evidence gathered from reviews of academic studies and data points at lifestyle and other environmental factors, such as the person's level of education, as responsible for up to 76 percent of cognitive decline and that making some lifestyle changes can potentially reduce a person's risks of developing dementia by as much as 36 percent. The disease, which affects about 36 million people worldwide, is characterized by difficulties in cognitive functions and currently has no cure.
There are five lifestyle rules that people should adopt in order to retain their brain health and reduce their odds of developing dementia, reviews made by the charity suggest. These include regularly engaging in physical exercise, adopting a Mediterranean diet, drinking in moderation, not smoking, as well as preventing the onset of and treating diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, conditions that can also be blamed on unhealthy lifestyles.
"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. "What's more, the changes that we need to make to keep our brains healthy are already proven to be good for the heart and overall health."
Age UK's analysis found that physical exercise is the most effective way of avoiding cognitive decline in healthy older people. It also reduces their probability of developing Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia. The charity cited that studies recommend exercising between three to five times per week for at least half an hour.
The analysis also showed the positive effects of not smoking in ensuring the healthy aging of the brain, with more cases of Alzheimer's disease being observed in current smokers compared with individuals who have never smoked.
Findings of the review likewise gave credence to claims that associate very heavy drinking with dementia, with the behavior resulting in the loss of brain tissues, particularly those that have key roles in memory and the processing of information. Moderate levels of alcohol, on the other hand, appear to provide protection by reducing the levels of bad cholesterol and boosting good cholesterol.