Expert shares six tips to ‘dementia-proof’ your life

Expert shares six tips to ‘dementia-proof’ your life

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Dementia is a syndrome related to ongoing deterioration of the brain. Depending on the type someone has it can lead to memory loss, behavioural changes and difficulties performing everyday tasks. Although it is often associated with getting older there are a number of changes you could make to your lifestyle to lower your risk.

Patrick Holford, founder of Food for the Brain Foundation, spoke to about six simple ways to “dementia-proof” your brain.

“You may think that Alzheimer’s is in the genes, but this isn’t accurate; less than one in every hundred Alzheimer’s diagnoses are attributed to genes,” he explained.

Eat less sugar and refined carbs

“A 2022 US study reported that having a blood sugar level in the high end of the normal range, at age 35, increased a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life by 15 percent,” Mr Holford said.

Refined carbohydrates are carbohydrates that include sugars and refined grains and have been stripped of all bran, fibre, and nutrients.

These include white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, sweet desserts, and many breakfast cereals.

They are known to cause rapid spikes in blood sugar after eating.

Eat fish and omega-3 fish oils

Mr Holford said: “A study of almost half a million people from the UK’s Biobank found those taking fish oil supplements had a seven percent lower risk of dementia.

“Fish that swim in cold water and eat other fish are best. Salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, herring and kippers are excellent.”

If you do not eat fish there are vegan algae-based supplements available that contain omega-3.

Supplement B vitamins

“A study showed that vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid cut the shrinkage in the Alzheimer’s areas of the brain by nine times,” he said.

Vitamin B6 can be found in foods such as beef liver, tuna, salmon, fortified cereals and chickpeas.

Vitamin B12 is found in lots of animal products like meat, fish, milk, cheese and eggs.

Have an active mind but sleep well

Mr Holford explained: “Your brain needs exercise, but it also needs rest after cognitive activity.

“The optimal sleep duration is seven hours, and 10pm is the ideal bedtime.

“Sleeping only five hours, or nine or more hours, doubles dementia risk.”

Eat lots of fruit and veg

He added: “Fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices are rich in brain-friendly antioxidants and polyphenols; they improve circulation in your brain and help keep it young.

“Cacao in chocolate is also brain-friendly, but the sugar isn’t.”

The Food for the Brain Foundation offers a free online cognitive function test that can recommend ways that will make the most difference to lowering your risk of dementia

Symptoms of dementia may include issues with:

  • Memory loss
  • Thinking speed
  • Mental sharpness and quickness
  • Language, such as using words incorrectly, or trouble speaking
  • Understanding
  • Judgement
  • Mood
  • Movement
  • Doing daily activities.

If you believe a loved one could be experiencing symptoms of dementia you should help them get an appointment with their GP as soon as possible.

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