It is not uncommon that I get asked if dementia can be prevented. If you’ve been wondering about this yourself, you’re not alone. It can be scary to think about possibly receiving this diagnosis someday. Unfortunately, most causes of dementia symptoms are beyond our control. However, the good news is that there has been a lot of research done about ways to keep our bodies and minds healthy in order to mitigate and lessen some of these symptoms.
Get enough exercise: Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of dementia symptoms from developing further and may even slow atrophy of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory. An exercise routine also supports the healthy functioning of your body’s various systems such as circulation and your nervous system.
Eat well: A diet that is good for the heart is also good for the brain and eating a well-rounded, nutritious diet could lead to a reduction of conditions that further the risk of dementia. This means getting plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, lentils, fish, lean meats and avoiding saturated and animal fats as well as too much sugar or salt. A good diet centers around whole foods with minimally processed foods.
Abstain from tobacco: Over the years, there have been plenty of studies that have found that tobacco could increase the risk of dementia, especially in those 65 or older. Aside from jeopardizing overall physical health and putting you at risk for developing health conditions, smoking affects your circulation, including the blood vessels in your brain.
Limit alcohol intake: Research shows that alcohol consumption could be a major risk factor for all dementia symptoms, including early-onset dementia. While this one may be difficult to manage, it can be very beneficial to even just cut back on your intake.
Keep your mind active: It’s easier to keep your mind active than to reactivate a stagnant one. Try to incorporate activities that require brainpower, such as puzzles, reading music, playing an instrument, reading books or learning a new hobby, into your daily routine. Engaging with friends and family can also keep your mind moving.
The bottom line is that dementia is a group of symptoms that affects many different systems in our minds and bodies. While these symptoms can’t be stopped completely, you do have the power to lower your risk of developing them, and to increase your quality of life. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and, similarly, you shouldn’t expect yourself to change a lifetime of habits overnight. Start by incorporating small, consistent changes into your lifestyle for long-lasting benefits.