Lifestyle can help prevent or delay the onset of dementia, whatever the cause. The earlier you start looking after your brain, the better as once dead neurones do not grow back. In fact, the peak number of healthy brain cells (neurones) is when you are in your early twenties. Once signs of dementia have started over 80% of the damage has already been done. That’s not to say it’s not worth it. Lifestyle strategies can also help you keep what neurones you have and help you strengthen other bodily functions which can support you daily abilities and keep you independent for longer.
Dementia – Lifestyle Tips
Exercise:Regular daily physical activity increases oxygen to the brain and also gets people out of the house, giving them a change of environment and providing visual, social and intellectual stimulation. Numerous studies have shown exercise to be one of the most successful interventions when it comes to delaying the progression of dementia. Chapter xxprovided many tips on how integrate more physical activity into day to day life. Based on the limited data on how much is beneficial, it seems that 50 minutes a day of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, riding a bike or pushing a lawnmower is needed, along with at least an hour and a half of more vigorous aerobic activity, a week such as such as jogging, fast swimming or riding a bike up a hill or take part in activities that are both aerobic and resistance, such as football, running, netball or circuit training.
Group activities:It is vital that people with dementia stay as active as they can socially. Taking part in meaningful activities such as walking football, music, singing or art is enjoyable and leads to increased confidence and self-esteem.
Brain exercise: Social interactions help stimulate the mind, especially when engaging in interesting conversation. Learning something new or writing in a diary will enable you to think more creatively, help your memory and enhance your ability to make logical connections. Various brain exercise tools are now available commercially, ranging from crossword and Su Doku books to electronic brain-teaser gadgets. Imagination exercises have been shown to improve brain power and can be performed anywhere. Imagine different rooms of the house and how they would look if decorated differently or, while looking out of the window, try to imagine how it would look during different seasons or when covered with snow. You can do this while taking a walk or running on a treadmill – you will be exercising your mind and body at the same time.
Intermittent fasting: One laboratory study, involving mice that had been genetically engineered to develop changes in brain tissue similar to those seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease, saw those which were given the 5:2 diet experience a slower rate of cognitive decline than those on a normal diet. While certainly intriguing, we can never be sure that the results are applicable to humans.
Ketogenic diets:Drug-resistant epilepsy, but current studies indicate possible neuroprotective effects. Thus far, only a few studies have evaluated the role of the ketogenic diet in the prevention of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Single studies with human participants have demonstrated a reduction of disease symptoms after application. Most of this benefit would have come from reducing high glycaemic index foods. There are concerns that as people with dementia have issues with maintaining weight so his diet may add a nutritional burden especially if they start dropping fruit and vegetables.
Reduce alcohol intake stop smoking: Even in moderation, it’s best to avoid alcohol if you have established cognitive impairment. We are all aware of the ‘thick head’ that occurs with even the mildest of hangovers. When meeting up with friends, if they really want to help, suggest the gym or going for a walk rather than the pub. Stopping smoking obvious – tips to quit
Healthy fats: A large proportion of the supportive fats in the brain is made up of omega 3 and omega 6 fats. A number of studies have confirmed that boosting diets rich in these fats help prevent or delay dementia. There is less even to say that taking a supplement after the onset of dementia helps but it an individual does not eat much fish its worth a try. In the meantime, this is another good reason to include oily fish, other seafood as well as oily vegetables such as avocado in your diet.
Plant nitrate rich foods:Nitrates in plants, unlike form meats, are converted to nitric oxide (NO) which help with blood flow hence are recommended for people with dementia, particular those with vascular disease. They tend to also have healthy polyphenols so are included in the table below.
Measures to reduce chronic inflammation and: For individuals who are also overweight, particularly with metabolic syndrome it would be worth slimming down. Dental caries or gum disease can risk chronic inflammation so it’s a good idea your teeth checked out regularly. Try to eliminate process sugar and avoid pro inflammatory toxins. Gut health and the microbiome are very important – see tips on how to improve gut bacteria. There are enormous benefits of an anti-inflammatory polyphenol rich diet and here are some tips to achieve this: