Countries around the world target various months to focus on dementia, a terrifying disease that affects 50 million people worldwide. Since there is no cure, experts urge prevention.
According the World Health Organization (WHO), “In the next 30 years, the number of people with dementia is expected to triple. We need to do everything we can to reduce our risk.”
Dementia is a broad term referring to the loss of cognitive functioning, such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning. The National Institute on Aging says that dementia interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Signs may include difficulties with memory, problem-solving, self-management, language skills, and focus. There are many types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
How to lower your risk? WHO confirms, “Evidence proves that what’s good for our heart, is also good for our brain.”
Recommendations include curbing alcohol consumption, since “the risk goes up as you drink more.” Doctors speculate heavy alcohol use can be toxic to brain cells. The WHO defines “non-harmful drinking levels” as having up to one drink daily for women, and up to two drinks daily for men.
Exercise helps, too: “High levels of physical activity seem to be the most protective,” which is 150 minutes or more of weekly exercise. Not smoking also promotes brain health. The WHO adds, “Tobacco dependence is the leading cause of preventable death globally.”
Other ways to lower the risk for developing dementia include managing blood pressure, maintaining a healthy body weight (with a body mass index less than 25), and eating a balanced diet.
The WHO supports the Mediterranean diet, focusing on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and fish. The WHO doesn’t promote any dietary supplements to stave off dementia, but recommends adopting healthy lifestyle habits as early as possible.
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