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Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia

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Dementia is a group of related symptoms associated with an ongoing decline of the normal functions of the brain, affecting everything from your memory to your behaviour. This progressive disease is commonly associated with old age, family and medicine associates of kaufman though it is important to note that it is not a natural part of ageing. Preventing Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and other types of this condition is almost impossible to do using one single method, but there are some known triggers which can increase your risk of developing symptoms.

Can you reduce the risk of dementia?

Despite ageing being one of the biggest risk factors, there are plenty of small changes that can be made to your everyday routine to minimise your chances of developing dementia.

Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “There are lifestyle factors we can change to reduce our risk of dementia and boost our cognitive health.

“The best evidence indicates that staying both physically and mentally active, not smoking, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, only drinking within recommended guidelines and eating a balanced diet are all linked to better brain health as we age.”

It is also agreed by experts that keeping your heart healthy is one of the best ways to maintain strong brain functions, so it is important to focus on both your cardiovascular and neurological health if you want to lower your chances of developing dementia.

The NHS said: “A healthy lifestyle can also help prevent cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart attacks, which are themselves risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia (the 2 most common types of dementia.”

There are several ways to keep your heart in good health, including:

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Keeping alcohol within recommended limits
  • Stopping smoking
  • Keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level

In fact, research has concluded that by modifying the risk factors we are able to change, the risk of dementia could be reduced by around a third.

What’s the link between a healthy lifestyle and a reduced risk of dementia?

Eating a diet that’s high in saturated fat, salt and sugar, and low in fibre, can increase your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, becoming overweight or obese, and type 2 diabetes.

Sitting down too much and avoiding regular exercise can also contribute to these risk factors according to the NHS.

Elevated blood pressure and type 2 diabetes have both been linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease – the most common type of dementia, and vascular dementia.

By reducing your chances of experiencing these dangerous conditions, your risk of developing dementia is also minimised.

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Do these methods always work?

Leading a healthy lifestyle is a proven way to reduce your risk of developing several illnesses and diseases, though some risk factors are difficult, or entirely impossible to change.

According to NHS Advice, these include biological factors such as age and genes, but some socio-economic factors such as lower levels of education can also have an impact.

Genetic factors

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, the APOE4 gene is the “strongest known genetic risk factor” for the most common form of Alzheimer’s disease.

Research has shown that having two copies of this gene (one from each parent) is thought to increase your risk of dementia by about 10 times

Genes alone are not enough to cause dementia, though it can significantly increase your chances when coupled with environmental factors.

Educational factors

Research presented at the 2020 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference suggested that higher quality early-life education is linked to better language and memory performance, and a lower risk of dementia.

While there is some evidence to support this claim, Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We must continue to explore all potential avenues to reduce the number of dementia cases, and this study helps show the importance of tackling inequality and implementing new government policies aimed at helping people reduce their risk of the condition.”

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