Five Ways to Lower Your Risk for Dementia
1. Look After Your Heart
What’s good for your heart is good for your brain. Reduction in tobacco use is key: smokers have a 45 percent higher risk of developing dementia than non-smokers. Treat hypertension and high cholesterol.
2. Stay Physically Active
Aerobic exercise improves oxygen consumption, which benefits brain function. Walking, bicycling, gardening and other activities of about 30 minutes daily get the body moving and the heart pumping.
3. Follow a Healthy Diet
A brain-healthy diet is high in cereals, fish, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Increase your intake of “protective foods” that contain antioxidants (e.g., dark-skinned fruits and vegetables) and omega-3 fatty acids (found in cold water fish such as halibut, mackerel, salmon, trout and tuna).
4. Challenge Your Brain
Keeping mentally active is linked to less shrinkage of the hippocampus, a part of the brain critical for memory and often the first to be damaged by Alzheimer’s disease. “Train your brain” by reading, writing, playing games (crossword puzzles, Sudoku, etc.), enrolling in adult education courses or completing memory exercises.
5. Enjoy Social Activity
Research shows that people who are regularly engaged in social interaction maintain their brain vitality. Sports, cultural activities, emotional support and close personal relationships together appear to have a protective effect against dementia. Stimulate your mind and body by staying active in the workplace, volunteering in your community, joining social clubs and traveling.