Four rules to prevent dementia and Alzheimer's

Four rules to prevent dementia and Alzheimer's

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Alzheimer's: These measures can reduce the risk of dementia

Almost 50 million people worldwide suffer from dementia. Although the neurodegenerative disease is still not curable, various measures can significantly reduce the risk of developing it.

Incurable disease

In Germany alone, around 1.2 million people suffer from dementia, the majority of them from Alzheimer's. There are around 47 million dementia patients worldwide. Although the disease has not yet been curable, it can be delayed with medication in the early stages. There are also indications that certain measures such as "brain jogging" can help prevent Alzheimer's.

Decay of the nerve cells progresses slowly

“Dementias usually have a long, unremarkable clinical phase, during which the decay of the nerve cells progresses slowly and can in principle be stopped. In Alzheimer's disease, this process takes about 30 years, ”explains the German Institute for Dementia Prevention at Saarland University on its website.

“Various individual measures are known to reduce the risk of illness. However, it is still unknown how big this protective effect is, ”it continues.

In a new guideline, the World Health Organization (WHO) has now summarized the most important measures that can help everyone to reduce their personal risk of dementia or to delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

Regular exercise and healthy eating

People can reduce their risk of dementia by exercising regularly, not smoking, avoiding harmful alcohol consumption, controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

The WHO gives these recommendations in the new guideline "Risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia".

"We have to do everything we can to reduce our risk of dementia," said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a press release.

The recommendations in the guideline are based on collected scientific knowledge and confirm that what is good for our heart is also good for our brain, says Dr. Ghebreyesus.

More information about dementia is needed

The guidelines were drawn up in a two-year evaluation by an expert panel.

Among the experts was Dr. Ronald Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Research Center.

“The guidelines are designed to help educate health professionals and the general public about measures that can reduce the likelihood of cognitive impairment,” Petersen said in a Mayo Clinic release.

What you can do yourself against dementia and Alzheimer's

"There are a few things we can do that may not prevent Alzheimer's disease but can delay its onset and slow its progression," emphasizes Dr. Petersen.

One of the most effective recommendations is regular physical activity. Numerous studies have shown that physical training is associated with delayed onset of dementia.

Dr. Petersen recommends exercising for 150 minutes every week, for example three times 50 minutes or five times 30 minutes. Suitable sports include fast walking (Nordic walking), swimming, jogging or aerobics.

Lose weight against dementia

According to Dr. Petersen also plays an important role in nutrition. Obesity and a lack of exercise often go hand in hand, causing numerous complications that also promote dementia.

"Most experts now recommend the Mediterranean diet," reports the clinic director. This diet is one of the healthiest in the world and strengthens the heart and brain.

In general, any food that is heart healthy can be recommended. This is not only a good idea for general health, but also good for the brain, according to Petersen.

The brain wants to be used

“Observational studies have shown that people who remain more intellectually active are at less risk of developing cognitive impairment,” says the Alzheimer's expert.

The WHO recommends that people remain intellectually active into old age and that they should always look for new challenges.

Avoid tobacco consumption and keep alcohol consumption low

"In general, we recommend people that they shouldn't start drinking, and if they're already drinking alcohol, they should be a little more humble," summarizes Dr. Petersen.

A little alcohol is probably okay, but you shouldn't let it get out of hand.

It looks different with tobacco consumption. The WHO strongly advises against tobacco use in order to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Support can be found in the article: Quit Smoking. (vb, ad)

Author and source information

Video: Preventing Cognitive Decline and Dementia: A Way Forward (January 2023).