Alzheimer’s disease can have a devastating impact on one’s life. The neurological disease shrinks the brain and over a course of time diminishes thinking, memory, and social skills. In advanced stage, people with Alzheimer’s are completely dependent on their caretakers and eventually with severe loss of brain function, people can suffer from dehydration, malnutrition or infection. This can even turn fatal and cause death. Studies prove that chances of Alzheimer’s can be reduced with lifestyle modifications be it regular physical activity, good diet, managing stress and chronic conditions. (Also read: World Alzheimer’s Day 2023: Date, history, significance)
As per researchers, compared to people with no or one healthy lifestyle factors, the risk of Alzheimer’s was 37% lower in those with two to three, and 60% lower in those with four to five healthy lifestyle factors. The lifestyle factors in this study include at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity, not smoking, light-to-moderate alcohol consumption, a high-quality, mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet and engagement in late-life cognitive activities.
“Alzheimer’s disease poses a devastating global challenge, impacting millions of individuals. While a definitive cure remains elusive, mounting evidence suggests that adopting specific lifestyle choices can mitigate the likelihood of developing this debilitating ailment. By integrating the following seven habits into your daily regimen, you can proactively safeguard your brain health and diminish the risk of Alzheimer’s,” says Dr Neha Kapoor, Associate Director & Head-Neurology, Asian Hospital Faridabad.
On the occasion of World Alzheimer’s Day (September 21), here are factors that can help reduce risk of the disease.
Lifestyle habits that can help cut Alzheimer’s risk
1. Embrace a heart-healthy diet
Cultivate a diet abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to bolster brain health. Prioritize foods rich in antioxidants, such as berries and leafy greens, which combat brain inflammation and oxidative stress. Additionally, incorporate omega-3 fatty acids from sources like salmon and walnuts to further reduce Alzheimer’s risk.
2. Engage in regular physical activity
Establish a consistent exercise routine to enhance overall health and decrease Alzheimer’s susceptibility. Strive for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity weekly. Exercise stimulates improved cerebral blood circulation, fosters the release of brain-protective compounds, and maintains optimal brain tissue health.
3. Foster mental stimulation
Keep your cognitive faculties engaged through regular challenges. Activities like reading, puzzles, acquiring new skills, and participating in intellectually stimulating conversations fortify cognitive reserves, potentially delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms.
4. Prioritize quality sleep
Give your brain the restorative sleep it needs by aiming for 7-9 hours of nightly rest. Inadequate sleep patterns and sleep-related disorders are associated with heightened cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s risk.
5. Manage stress
Chronic stress can detrimentally impact brain health. Incorporate stress-reduction techniques into your daily routine, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, or enjoyable hobbies. Reducing stress levels can safeguard your brain against harm caused by excessive cortisol production.
6. Cultivate social connections
Social engagement is a cornerstone of brain health. Regular interaction with friends and family, participating in group activities, and nurturing social ties can preserve cognitive function. Loneliness and isolation are linked to an increased Alzheimer’s risk.
7. Monitor chronic health conditions
Maintain vigilance over your overall health, particularly conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol, as they elevate Alzheimer’s risk. Collaborate closely with your healthcare provider to effectively manage these conditions.
“Adopting these habits into your daily life can significantly diminish your Alzheimer’s risk. Consistent, long-term practice is crucial for their effectiveness. Additionally, consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance in crafting a brain-healthy lifestyle tailored to your specific needs and risk factors. Proactive care for your brain enhances the prospect of enjoying a vibrant and cognitively sound life as you age,” says Dr Kapoor.