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Natural Awakenings Dallas -Fort Worth Metroplex Edition

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Healthy Lifestyle Reduces Risk of Dementia

Here’s a New Year’s commitment that will pay dividends all year long. Research suggests that adopting multiple healthy lifestyle habits such as eating a healthy diet, not smoking, exercising regularly and receiving cognitive stimulation provide high levels of benefit for brain health, and may even offset genetic and environmental risks of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

One study reported participants that adopted four or five low-risk lifestyle factors had about a 60 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s dementia compared with participants that did not follow any or only one of the low-risk factors.

Two more studies showed that actionable lifestyle changes could potentially counteract elevated risk for Alzheimer’s disease. In one, researchers showed that participants with a high genetic risk for Alzheimer’s following a “favorable” lifestyle had a 32 percent lower risk of all-cause dementia compared with an “unfavorable” lifestyle. Another confirmed that living in locations with high air pollution increased the risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Evidence suggests that heart-healthy eating such as limiting the intake of sugar and saturated fats and eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains may also protect the brain. No one diet is best, but two that have been studied and may be beneficial are the dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet and the Mediterranean diet.

The DASH diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits and fat-free or low-fat dairy products; includes whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts and vegetable oils; and limits sodium, sweets, sugary beverages and red meats. A Mediterranean diet includes relatively little red meat and emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and nuts, olive oil and other healthy fats.

Scott Finley is a member of the Alzheimer’s Association in Texas. For more information, call 800-272-3900 or visit alz.org.

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