The 7 Most Common Habits That Increase Your Risk of Dementia (And How To Fight Them)

Dementia is incredibly common in old age, affecting one in six people over the age of 80.

Some common habits have been linked to a higher chance of developing the disease.

You can help protect the brain by following seven healthy habits


You can help protect the brain by following seven healthy habitsPhoto credit: Getty

But it could be prevented, even in those at highest genetic risk, researchers say.

Dementia robs people of their memory and is typically diagnosed after the age of 65. It is not the same as aging.

The most common form of dementia – affecting more than 850,000 people in the UK – is Alzheimer’s.

A new study examined the lifestyle habits of 11,500 people, aged 54 on average.

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Each participant rated seven habits from 0 (least healthy) to 14 (healthiest).

These goods:

  1. exercise levels
  2. Healthy eating
  3. Weight
  4. Smoking
  5. blood pressure
  6. cholesterol
  7. blood sugar

Someone with a low score would be inactive, have an unhealthy diet, be overweight, smoke, and have uncontrolled blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol.

Participants were followed up 30 years later to determine if they had been diagnosed with dementia.

Europeans with the healthiest habits were less likely to develop dementia than their unhealthier counterparts – even when their genetics worked against it.

The participants were divided into groups based on their genetic makeup.

It has already been discovered that those with at least one copy of the APOE e4 variant have a higher genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

About 28 percent of Europeans in the study had APOE e4, while 40 percent of people of African descent did.

But a European with a genetically higher risk of Alzheimer’s was up to 43 percent less likely to develop the disease if they practiced good health habits, compared to those who didn’t.

Among those of African descent, those who were the healthiest had up to a 17 percent lower risk.

But the researchers said the smaller number of participants in this group — about 2,700 of the sample — means more research is needed.

The seven habits, known as the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7, are indeed designed to help you achieve perfect heart health.

You can use this online tool to determine your own Simple 7 score.

It is understood that eating to protect the heart promotes brain health.

The NHS says: “Experts agree that what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain.”

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Time and time again, studies have shown that those who choose to live healthy have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s — but that doesn’t mean they’re never diagnosed.

You can help reduce your risk of dementia by:

  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Keep alcohol within recommended limits
  • stop smoking
  • Keep your blood pressure at a healthy level The 7 Most Common Habits That Increase Your Risk of Dementia (And How To Fight Them)

Sarah Y. Kim

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