More than six million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s. That number could hit 12.7 million by 2050. Naturally, how to prevent Alzheimer’s continues to be an in-demand topic. New research suggests that healthy lifestyle choices increase life expectancy and reduce years of living with Alzheimer’s.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that destroys your memory and thinking skills over time. Eventually, it damages the ability to carry out even the simplest tasks. In most people, late-onset symptoms appear after the age of 60. Early onset Alzheimer’s occurs between the ages of 30 and mid-60s.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
Increasing memory loss and confusion
Difficulty with language
Problems coping with new situations
Shorter attention span
Healthy Lifestyle Choices and Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is complex, and it devastates the lives of millions every year. The chances of developing Alzheimer’s come from a complex combination of genetics, age, and other lifestyle factors.
Research shows that following a healthy lifestyle can help you to live longer. But living longer in itself is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. However, a US-based study suggests that people living longer following a healthy lifestyle, on average, lived with Alzheimer’s for less than those with an unhealthy lifestyle.
While it’s impossible to control things like aging or genetic influences, you can focus on overall healthy aging. Research into the effects of healthy aging, supporting brain health, and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s is promising. Healthy aging measures include:
Regular exercise for the body and the mind
Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol
Remaining socially active
Research shows that combining more healthy lifestyle behaviors resulted in a significantly lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease. In a study of 3,000 participants, those who combined four or more healthy behaviors experienced a 60% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Healthy behaviors include:
Physical movement – at least 150 minutes per week of vigorous activity.
Not smoking – even quitting smoking after 60 has health benefits.
Limit alcohol consumption – lowering alcohol intake may improve cognitive function.
High-quality diet – the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) focuses on using plant-based foods linked to dementia prevention.
Cognitive activties – keeping the mind active and engaged
The MIND diet includes eating foods from the following groups:
Antioxidants and Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s risk is complex, and the disease develops over years. Researchers from the US found a link between reducing dementia risk and specific antioxidants. They found that people with higher levels of carotenoid antioxidants were associated with a lower risk of developing dementia in the years to come. You can find carotenoid antioxidants in foods like:
Leafy green vegetables
Dementia refers to a group of symptoms that impact memory. Alzheimer’s is a condition that progressively worsens over time.
With millions of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, the need for research to slow, reduce, or prevent Alzheimer’s is at an all-time high.
While much of the research out there doesn’t fully untangle cause and effect, it does hint that a healthy lifestyle means living with Alzheimer’s for fewer years.
Fortunately, the evidence is pretty solid when it comes to the effects of a healthy lifestyle in general. It’s common knowledge that regular exercise keeps you strong, quitting smoking reduces your risk of cancer, and a healthy diet gives your body the nutrients it needs to survive and thrive.
There are steps that everyone can take to keep their brain healthy. You can focus on healthy aging, stacking the odds in your favor and ultimately reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
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