Over 50 million people globally are affected by dementia. Many factors like age, genetic makeup and lifestyle factors contribute to the risk of being diagnosed with a memory impairment-so what can you do to lower your risk?
For the first time, according to an article by CNN, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its first ever recommendation regarding how to reduce the risk of dementia. While much of the information included is not new (i.e. implementing healthy lifestyle habits) it also included an interesting tidbit. WHO included a warning against taking certain dietary supplements such as omega-3’s and B vitamins. Many individuals’ take these vitamins in an effort to combat a decline in memory and cognition.
The report elaborated on the lifestyle factors it says will help reduce an individual’s risk for dementia. Habits like getting regular exercise, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and adhering to a Mediterranean diet all have commonalities: they can greatly reduce an individual’s risk for conditions such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension. Generally, individuals who experience these diagnoses are at an increased risk for dementia. Professor of old age psychiatry at University College London Robert Howard reports “I tell my patients that what is good for their hearts is probably good for their brains”.
So, while we know age is the most powerful risk factor for a cognitive decline-and at the end of the day, we cannot guarantee stopping a memory impairment from developing, we also know we can make choices now to set ourselves up for a healthy heart-and brain-later: get your body moving, include more plant-based foods in your meals, and avoid substance use.