Research draws direct link between lifestyle changes & reducing risk of dementia

A failing memory and cognitive function are some of the things that men and women my age are starting to see (or fear) taking place with their parents. For me personally, dementia in particular is an issue close to my heart as I’ve seen one of my grandparents experience it and I always fear it happening with my parents, or me one day. More and more, I am starting to see people I know taking care of people with dementia and it affects me deeply – that’s why it’s triggered me to take a more active outlook on what we can do to help our brains and one day, find a real solution.

After scouring several sources, I came across an interesting study done in Finland. The study included 1,260 people in Finland, aged 60 to 77, who were considered to be at high risk for dementia. They were randomly selected to receive either regular health advice (the control group) or to be part of an intervention group.

Over two years, those in the intervention group met regularly with doctors, nurses and other health professionals who provided advice on healthy eating, strength and heart-healthy exercise, brain training programs and management of metabolic and circulatory risk factors for dementia. After two years, those in the intervention group scored 25% higher overall on a standard test of mental function than those in the control group. Researchers will still be following the participants for seven years.

For the first time ever, a conclusive link had been drawn between making significant lifestyle changes and the prevention of cognitive decline in elderly people at risk for dementia. What changes can you make?

This study showed that a diet low in sugar, high in fish, fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy, with “muscle training”, brain and aerobic exercises at home can make a significant impact. I particularly loved how Sarah Bosley, health editor at The Guardian, summarized these interventions:

Dancing, doing Sudoku and eating fish and fruit may be the way to stave off the memory loss and mental decline.

I hope you find this research and the recommendations on how to alter your lifestyle helpful for you or the ones you love lead a healthy life for their mind and body as they age. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and coaching, no matter your age – as the study shows, it’s important to continuously consult health professionals!

Source: Ngandu, Tiia et al. A 2 year multidomain intervention of diet, exercise, cognitive training, and vascular risk monitoring versus control to prevent cognitive decline in at-risk elderly people: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet.

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