HealthHealthy lifestyle proves instrumental in combating dementia risks and symptoms, study shows

Healthy lifestyle proves instrumental in combating dementia risks and symptoms, study shows

Lifestyle has a crucial impact on the brain.
Lifestyle has a crucial impact on the brain.
Images source: © Licensor | Smith Collection
1:11 AM EST, February 26, 2024

A study carried out by scientists at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago, which included autopsies of 586 individuals, has provided groundbreaking insights. The participants, who lived on average to the age of 91, regularly underwent cognitive and physical function assessments for over two decades.

The results of the study suggest that maintaining healthy habits can reduce the risk of dementia, independent of the burdens associated with Alzheimer's disease.

The five key principles

The study honed in on five healthy habits: non-smoking, engaging in regular physical activity, moderate consumption of alcohol, mental stimulation, and adhering to the MIND diet. This diet merges elements of the Mediterranean and DASH diets; emphasizing the consumption of plant-based foods and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, while limiting the intake of red meat and sweets.

The post-mortem examination of brains revealed that adhering to these practices can lead to a decrease in beta-amyloid load (a protein that plays a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease), and enhance cognitive functions.

Cultivating brain resilience in the face of disease

Dr. Klodian Dhana, the study's lead author, and Dr. Richard Isaacson, the Director of Research at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Florida, pointed out that lifestyle alterations can bolster the brain's resilience against common causes of dementia. They likened a healthy lifestyle to a weapon in a video game—capable of combating metaphorical monsters that represent Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders.

In commenting on the findings, Professors Yue Leng and Kristine Yaffe noted that over 88 percent of overall cognitive function activity could be directly associated with lifestyle. This indicates that even in advanced brain pathology, healthy habits can serve as an effective defense mechanism, sustaining mental abilities.

The findings from these studies underpin the relevance of simple lifestyle changes, not just as preventive approaches but also as essential support for those battling the symptoms of dementia.

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