New studies show that adopting a healthy lifestyle might reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, according the Alzheimer’s Association.
In a press release, Maria C. Carillo, PhD, and Alzheimer’s Association Chief Science Officer, said, “While there is no proven cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s, a large body of research now strongly suggests that combining healthy habits promotes good brain health and reduces your risk of cognitive decline.”
One study showed that lifestyle changes could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 60%, and another study found that even people who have a genetic predisposition for the disease can lower their risk.
What to Do?
The separate studies found that it’s not one lifestyle change, but a combination of them that needs to occur in order to get the results. It is recommended that people need to adopt four out of five—or all five—of these lifestyle changes to have a chance of reducing their dementia risk:
- Adopt a healthy diet
- Do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity
- Don’t smoke
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Engage in cognitively stimulating activities
During follow-up of nine years and six years in two projects, study participants who adopted four or five low-risk lifestyle changes, there was a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s dementia observed by researchers (compared to those who adopted or none of the recommended lifestyle changes).
When it came to people living with a genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease, studies found that “participants with high genetic risk and an unfavorable lifestyle were almost three times more likely to develop dementia compared to those with a low genetic risk and favorable lifestyle.”
Why It Matters
Statistics show that about 50 million people worldwide are currently living with dementia and that figure could triple by 2050. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease so the idea that people can take steps to prevent the onset of symptoms, is currently the best chance to curb the growth of the disease around the world.
“This study highlights the importance of following multiple healthy lifestyle practices for lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia,” said Klodian Dhana, PhD, assistant professor at Rush University Medical Center, where one of the studies was conducted as the Rush Memory and Aging Project. “In the U.S., adherence to a healthy lifestyle is low, and therefore promoting these lifestyle factors should become the primary goal for public health policies.”