The secret of avoiding dementia is ultimately living as healthy of a lifestyle as possible, according to new guidelines from the World Health Organization.
The new set of recommendations was released on Tuesday, May 14, stressing the importance of nutrition and exercise in maintaining cognitive health.
Dementia is a growing problem all over the world and many health experts expect it to get worse in the coming decades.
"In the next 30 years, the number of people with dementia is expected to triple," said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement. "The scientific evidence gathered for these Guidelines confirm what we have suspected for some time, that what is good for our heart, is also good for our brain."
WHO Releases New Guidelines
In the new guidelines targeted at health care providers and public health professionals, WHO recommends a healthy lifestyle over supplements and "shortcuts."
Among the steps recommended to reduce the risk of dementia are regular exercise, healthy diet, avoiding smoking and alcohol, weight maintenance, and keeping healthy levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
While there are supplements that claim to help prevent dementia, such as vitamins B and E, WHO recommends getting nutrients from food rather than supplements and pills.
"The negative recommendation, advocating that people do not use vitamin or dietary supplements (unless they are needed for a clinical problem) is welcome," Tom Dening, director of the Centre for Old Age and Dementia, Institute of Mental Health at the University of Nottingham, said in a report from CNN.
He added that it would also hopefully keep people from spending too much money on these supplements.
A healthy diet can do wonders for reducing the risk of cognitive decline, the experts say, particularly a Mediterranean diet that focuses on plant-based cooking and olive oil with just a little bit of meat. The international health organization reveals that high adherence to this type of diet is linked to a reduced risk of dementia, although just a modest adherence to it doesn't make much of a difference.
Dementia is a condition characterized by a decline in cognitive function affecting memory, thinking, orientation, and comprehension, among others. It's a rapidly growing public health issue that's already affecting 50 million people in the world with nearly 10 million new cases annually.
In the United States, dementia-related deaths have more than doubled in the last two decades, according to a recent CDC report.