Dementia including Alzheimer’s disease is a growing health problem. It commonly affects elderly people and leads to memory and cognitive issues. What can help avert this disorder?
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Dementia is affecting a large number of elderly people in the world. As people age, they have memory problems. Their concentration comes down and they get cognitive function decline too. The cases of Alzheimer’s disease in the world is on the rise. These cases of dementia have no cure. Only support and some medicines might assist.
And now research has revealed that one can prevent this problem in old age by adopting certain healthy lifestyle. The researchers listed six healthy behaviors that could significantly reduce the chances of getting dementia.
The research study details
Chinese researchers took up this study with 29000 recruits half of which were women. The participants were above 60 years of age with a mean of 72 years. They had normal cognitive function at the start and were part of the China Cognition and Aging Study.
In 2009, the memory analysis of each study individual was done. Moreover, the research team also checked for the APOE gene which is a high risk for Alzheimer’s disease. There were follow-up assessments done of each recruit over the next 10 years.
From their detailed history, the researchers found out whether the recruits had any of the six healthy behaviors. These six healthy behaviors were:
-Healthy diet with at least seven out of the twelve food groups (whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, vegetables, oil, dairy, salt, fish, meat, eggs, and tea)
-writing, reading, playing cards or other games at least two times a week
-No alcohol drinking
-No smoking history
-Exercise of 150 minutes per week of moderate degree or 75 minutes per week of vigorous degree
-social contact at least two times a week
Those with four and above healthy behaviors were in the favorable group. And the findings suggested that each healthy behavior helped to lower the risk of cognitive decline.
Findings and conclusions
The study showed that healthy diet is the major factor that can help in reducing the risk of dementia. And next in line came the role of some occupying cognitive activities and physical exercise.
Moreover, people who had the APOE gene but a healthy lifestyle benefited from the healthy behaviors. Their decline was lesser when compared to those with the gene and unhealthy lifestyle. Those with four and above healthy behaviors had 90% less chances of getting cognitive decline. And those with two or three healthy behaviors had 30% less risk.
The study published in BMJ comments:
“This study might offer important information to protect older adults against memory decline.”
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Dr Susan Mitchell, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK states:
“Too few of us know that there are steps we can all take to reduce our chances of dementia in later life.”
She called the long term follow-up Chinese study a well conducted and helpful one.