WAYS TO MINIMISE YOUR RISK OF GETTING DEMENTIA
In the UK there are 850,000 people with dementia and numbers are to set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. Every year 225,000 people will develop dementia, that's one every three minutes (Alzheimer's Society).
Experts say having a genetic predisposition alone is not sufficient for brain disease to take over. You can actually override your genes and alter the fate of your brain health, or at least delay the onset of disease.
So, what can we do to minimise our risk of developing dementia?
High levels of stress accelerate brain ageing while managing it effectively diminishes the impact on the brain. Several studies showed that people who were taught to see stress as a positive had lower cortisol levels and reported fewer symptoms of depression.
Take time to do things you love, learning to accept what you can't change, and spending more time with people you care about.
Exercise increases blood flow, oxygen and nutrients to the brain, which helps to elevate mood, offsetting depression and other brain disorders. Research published in 2014 in The Lancet Neurology found that being physically active minimises risk factors for Alzheimer's, including high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
Any cardio exercise boosts the release of endorphins, which improve the fitness of your brain and your heart.
Many experts believe that maintaining gut health is also crucial for fighting off cognitive decline. Research suggests that gut inflammation leads to poor brain function and premature brain ageing, while changes in gut bacteria are linked to depression, Autism and Parkinson's. Following a Mediterranean-style diet high in olive oil, fish and vegetables are the best way to look after your health. Other brain-enhancing foods include blueberries, walnuts, sweet potatoes, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, garlic, quinoa and brown rice are all beneficial.
STAY MENTALLY ACTIVE
Intellectual stimulation may help the brain's ability to operate effectively, even when some function is disrupted. Stimulating the brain with activities that keep you engaged for months or years leads to the birth of new brain cells, which can have a compensatory effect on ageing cells.
Learning a musical instrument or new language, reading a challenging book, or participating in stimulating conversation with friends, all help keep the brain vital and healthy.
Warding off insomnia is essential for brain health. Sleep has a restorative function which facilitates problem-solving, supports memory and regulates mood.
Suggestions for improving sleep include exercising more, removing digital devices from the bedroom, practising yoga, and going to bed and getting up at the same time each day.