There is a lot of research being done into the causes of Dementia. Researchers try to get an answer to the question of which factors play a role in the development of Dementia. Unfortunately, we cannot prevent Dementia with this. We do know that there are certain risk factors. By avoiding these, we can reduce the risk of Dementia.
Causes do not prevent Dementia but do delay it
Dementia is the name for a combination of symptoms (a syndrome), where the brain can no longer process information properly. Dementia is a collective name for more than fifty diseases. Many different factors play a role in its development. A lot of these factors also play a role in cardiovascular disease. What is bad for your heart is also bad for your brain. With a healthy lifestyle you cannot completely prevent Dementia, but you can reduce the chance of it. On average, people who avoid the most important risk factors get dementia until about 5 years later.
Often complicated disease processes cause Dementia. Even by living a healthy life, we cannot completely stop these processes (for example, clumping Alzheimer’s proteins). Researchers do think that by tackling the risk factors we can delay the disease processes.
People who avoid the most important risk factors get Dementia up to about 5 years later. The risk factors that you can avoid are the same risk factors that apply to cardiovascular disease.
The following risk factors increase the risk of Dementia:
- Little exercise;
- High blood pressure;
- Diabetes (diabetes mellitus);
- Strong overweight (obesity);
- Poor kidney function;
- Little mental activity.
You can influence most of these factors yourself. By living a healthy life, you can, therefore, reduce the risk of Dementia.
Many researchers believe that 5 to 10 percent of all Dementia can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle. Research has shown that even when switching to healthier habits the following applies: better late than never. For example, former smokers aged 65 and over have the same – lower – chance of Dementia as people who have never smoked. Much research is still being done into the causes of the various forms of Dementia.
Tips for a healthier lifestyle
Smoking increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 45 percent. To stop smoking is not easy for most people. Feel free to ask your doctor for help. That way you have a greater chance that your quitting attempt will succeed.
Being overweight increases the risk of Dementia. If you are overweight, you can achieve and maintain a healthy weight through a step-by-step plan. Call in the help of a dietician if necessary.
Watch your cholesterol
Cholesterol is a substance that you get through your diet. Your body needs cholesterol, but too much is not good. Higher cholesterol gives a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. People with cardiovascular disease have a greater chance of Dementia. Are you in the risk group? Has your cholesterol measured by your doctor?
Eating healthy is important. A Mediterranean diet is seen as a healthy diet. This consists of lots of vegetables and fruit, pasta, nuts, seeds, fish and olive oil. Red meat, full-fat dairy products, eggs and products with a lot of sugar should be used to a limited extent.
Drink little alcohol
Drinking a lot of alcohol is unhealthy. It increases the chance of various diseases, including Dementia. It is advised not to drink alcohol or to drink more than 1 glass of alcohol per day. More than 1 glass per day only has negative health effects.
The norm for sufficient exercise is 5 times 30 minutes per week. Walking, cycling, but also doing the household are good ways of moving. It is about the effort that it costs and that results in better blood circulation, even if exercise takes a lot of effort.
Keep your brains active
Active brains stay healthy longer. People who keep their brains active can better deal with the symptoms of dementia. Therefore, keep stimulating your brain. Variety is the magic word. Playing crosswords or memory games only has no demonstrable effect. The point is that you undertake different things. Follow a course, do volunteer work and stay in touch with social contacts.
Dementia is not hereditary in most cases. When there is a hereditary variant of Dementia in your family, it is more difficult to reduce the risk of Dementia. In dementia at a young age, heredity plays a relatively more important role. A healthy lifestyle has less effect on hereditary Dementia than with other forms of Dementia. You do, however, prevent other diseases if possible.
Healthy living is, of course, important for everyone to prevent all kinds of diseases. From the age of 45, it becomes even more important to take good care of your health. There is no guarantee whatsoever because unhealthy living and Dementia are not a cause-effect relationship. Someone who lives very healthy can also get Dementia. A healthy lifestyle does increase the chance of healthy aging. And with a healthy lifestyle, you can better start late than never.