LITTLE changes to what you eat, drink and do each day can make a big difference to your chances of dodging dementia.
From walking more, talking with pals, flossing and getting an early night, to eating porridge oats, peanut butter, bean soup and fish, and cutting back sweet treats, there is plenty you can do.
We told this week how eating a rasher of bacon a day, a similar amount of ham or the meat in a sausage roll, can raise your risk of the condition by nearly half, a study at Leeds University found.
Dementia now affects 850,000 people in the UK and this figure is set to rise to 1.6million by 2020.
So we asked Dr Sara Imarisio of Alzheimer’s Research UK, and Sun nutritionist Amanda Ursell, for daily steps to help prevent its onset.
Here is their guide . . .
07:00: Have porridge oats for breakfast
Some studies suggest a healthy diet can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 53 per cent. The Mind Diet recommends three servings of wholegrains a day.
Try overnight berry oats made with skimmed milk, 40g porridge oats, 80g frozen defrosted berries, a grated apple and 45g of plain, low-fat yoghurt for breakfast.
07:30: Floss your teeth
It is possible the bacteria responsible for poor oral health may get into your bloodstream and so increase the risk of dementia, according to a study from the University of Central Lancashire.
Be sure to brush your teeth twice daily and floss in between teeth. Much research has shown that people with gum disease may also be more likely to have memory problems.
08:30: Walk to work
If you can, do this. If you get the bus, Tube or train try getting off a stop early to increase your daily step count.
Dr Sara says: “Having an active life is beneficial, as it reduces your blood pressure and keeps you at a healthy weight. Both of these things can reduce risk of dementia.”
09:30: Enjoy a coffee
One or two cups a day may protect our brains. A four-year US study of people aged over 65 in Florida found those who showed early signs of dementia had 50 per cent less caffeine in their system than those without symptoms.
10:00: Get up from your work
Sitting for prolonged periods is bad for your brain. The NHS recommends setting a reminder so you get up and have a little walk every 30 minutes or so.
11:00: Stop sweet cravings with peanut butter on toast
If you feel you need an afternoon snack to fill you up a bit, Sun nutritionist Amanda recommends a slice of wholemeal toast with peanut butter.
12:00: Do the crossword
Dr Sara says: “You need to keep your brain active. It could also be that you read the newspaper every day or do a crossword during your lunch-break. Both keep the brain engaged.”
13.30: Enjoy bean soup
The Mind Diet also recommends at least three servings of beans each week. Amanda recommends a bean soup with a slice of wholemeal bread.
15:30: Avoid the vending machine
Try to avoid reaching for fizzy drinks and chocolate as the afternoon energy slump kicks in.
Dr Sara says: “You don’t need to cut out sugar completely but cutting down will reduce your risk of many diseases including cancer, Type 2 diabetes and dementia. So swap the fizzy drink for an apple.”
18:00: Talk to your pals
Loneliness can increase risk of dementia, according to a study published last year in medical journal The Lancet. Research found social isolation decreases brain activity, in turn raising your risk of memory problems.
Dr Sara says: “Even during the pandemic you can still meet one person from another household and, from March 29, the rule of six, or two households, will apply. You can also keep in contact by Zoom or social media.”
19:00: Feast on fish for dinner
This is great for your health and may reduce dementia risk, many studies have found.
20:00: Ditch the nightcap
Too much booze can raise your risk. Dr Sara says: “There is lots of evidence to say we should reduce our consumption of alcohol, as it can negatively affect health in many ways.
"NHS guidelines suggest drinking no more than 14 units a week, remembering a small glass of wine is 1.6 units and a pint of ordinary-strength beer 2.3 units."
22:00: Get an early night
Sleep cleanses the brain and can help ward off diseases such as dementia, US research from Boston University found.
Take a warm bath, turn off tech and try reading before you go to sleep to help you get a good night’s shut-eye.
ONE IN FOUR CASES MAY BE AVOIDED
HERE, Dr Sara explains a little more about dementia . . .
"The word dementia describes a group of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties thinking. These changes are usually small to start with but for someone with dementia they can affect daily life.
"It is a progressive condition for which there is no cure and no treatment. But research suggests up to 40 per cent of dementias might be preventable with lifestyle changes such as eating healthily, stopping smoking and keeping active.
"At Alzheimer’s Research UK we recently launched our Think Brain Health campaign to remind people that the brain is an organ we can work on to try to keep healthy. You need to eat a diet with lots of fruit and vegetables and low in processed meat.
"Keeping active and socially engaging with others is also important.
If people do notice changes in their behaviour or symptoms they are concerned about, it is important, even during Covid, for them to contact their GP.
"While there is no treatment to slow or stop the diseases that cause dementia, there are treatments for many of the symptoms which could really improve someone’s quality of life. Don’t be afraid7 to seek help."
- Alzheimer’s Research UK has an infoline – call 0300 111 5111. Also, see alzheimersresearchuk.org
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