New research from University College London predicts that by 2024, the rate of dementia in England and Wales will have doubled, with poor lifestyle choices being the main cause of the dramatic increase.
This development coincides with a significant advancement in the long-term fight against Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent type of dementia, which was shown to be slowed by a medicine for the second time in six months earlier this year.
“After 20 years without any new Alzheimer’s drugs, we now have two potential new drugs in just twelve months – and for the first time, drugs that seem to slow the progression of disease,” said Dr. Richard Oakley, associate director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society.
That’s great news, but as always, prevention is preferable to treatment, and studies indicate that there are numerous ways to lower our risk of dementia.
In reality, six lifestyle changes that can greatly lower the risk of getting dementia have been identified by a new study that followed over 30,000 persons for more than ten years.
After observing persons over 60 with good cognitive function for ten years, researchers from Beijing, China’s National Center for Neurological Disorders came to the conclusion that adopting six positive lifestyle choices—the more the better—could reduce the rate of memory decline.
The greatest impact was shown when eating a healthy diet, which was characterized as adhering to the daily allowance of at least seven of the twelve food groups—fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts—out of twelve.
The second most influential behavior was cognitive, including playing cards, solving crossword puzzles, or reading for at least two hours each week. Closely trailing was regular exercise, which is defined as 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-intense exercise or 75 minutes of strenuous exercise. The list also included never having smoked or being an ex-smoker, drinking no alcohol, and socializing twice a week by going to meetings or seeing friends and relatives.