Aging well is something to which we all aspire. And one of the outcomes associated with advancing years that we’d very much like to avoid is Alzheimer’s disease. But is there anything we can do to prevent it, or is it just something that cruel fate may have in store? In fact, recent research indicates that there are some things we can do to minimize the risk of late-onset dementia.
At the July 2019 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles, researchers revealed the results of two studies carried out over ten years, one of them involving a total of 2,765 people. And these papers showed that five lifestyle factors could have a massive influence on your likelihood of contracting Alzheimer’s. By changing your habits, your chances of falling victim to dementia could drop by as much as 60 percent.
The five lifestyle elements include a mixture of “dos” and “don’ts.” To assess someone’s likely chances of dementia in later years, the researchers gave negative behavior a score of zero and positive factors a score of one. If an individual’s total was four or more, Alzheimer’s was much less likely. A score of one or zero meant their chances of contracting the disease remained unchanged.
Unsurprisingly, smoking tobacco got a zero score. Another zero was drinking more than a single glass of wine each day. But exercising for a minimum of 150 minutes a week – which could include energetic walking, gardening and swimming – scored a definite one. Diet was important too. Eating lots of healthy foods such as grains, fish, nuts and vegetables got a one. A diet high in red meat, pastries, dairy and fried food scored zero.
Finally, the researchers identified one other factor: mental agility. Two or three weekly reading sessions, or playing intellectually stimulating games such as chess scored a one. So there are things you can do to lessen your chances of getting Alzheimer’s. And researchers from England also presented a paper at the Los Angeles conference showing that healthy lifestyles could decrease Alzheimer’s risks, even for those genetically predisposed to the disease.