5 factors for living more years without Alzheimer’s

The healthier you are —  the better your diet, the more regular your physical activity – the longer you are likely to live, and the more you can reduce your dementia risk.

But, with every year that you’re alive, your risk of developing Alzheimer’s also goes up.

So, although a healthier lifestyle may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s dementia, it may also increase the number of years a person actually spends living with the disease once they develop it.

That’s the double-edged sword of longevity!

Isn’t there any way around this? Recent research says there is…

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Five factors for longevity and brain health

A team of researchers from the U.S. and Switzerland have examined the potential impact of a healthy lifestyle not only on years lived — but on how many of those years are free of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The analysis came from 2,449 participants in the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP), an 18-year study that looked at risk factors for Alzheimer’s in older adults. Participants were all 65 and older.

Each participant completed a detailed diet and lifestyle questionnaire, which gave them a healthy lifestyle score based on five factors:

  • A hybrid Mediterranean-DASH diet (a diet rich in whole grains, green leafy vegetables and berries, and low in fast/fried food and red meats)
  • Cognitively stimulating activities
  • At least 150 minutes per week of physical activity
  • Not smoking
  • Low to moderate alcohol intake

A score of 5 meant the person met the criteria for all five factors, and a score of zero was given to someone who met none of the healthy lifestyle criteria.

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Higher scores equal a longer, dementia-free life

On average, women with healthier lifestyle scores at age 65 were expected to live another 24.2 years, while for men, an additional 23.1 years was predicted.

But women and men with lower lifestyle scores could expect only another 21.1 and 17.4 years, respectively.

There was also good news on the brain front for those who scored high…

For the healthy women who lived longer, only 2.6 of those years would be lived with Alzheimer’s (1.4 years for men), as opposed to 4.1 and 2.1 years for the women and men with less healthy lifestyle scores.

In other words, if done right, more years of life did not equate to more years with dementia.

Start raising your score today

As with most any health issue you can name, your diet can play a key role in prevention — and this study seemed to reinforce that.

That diet the study participants with higher scores followed — a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and Dash diet? Well, that’s come to be known as the MIND diet, for good reason. In a previous study, it reduced dementia risk by almost 20 percent.

The next step to raising your score is exercise — but have you ever wondered what the connection between your brain and exercise is all about?

Our brains normally shrink with age and that helps kick off cognitive decline. Well, exercise is the most scientifically backed way to maintain brain volume. It doesn’t have to be too strenuous. Try walking daily.

And lastly — stimulate your brain. Whether you’re 47 or 87, your brain is still capable of making new cells. In the study, participants did that by reading more often, visiting a museum or doing crossword puzzles. Your smartphone can help you here. There are lots of free crossword or word game apps you download for free.

Editor’s note: While you’re doing all the right things to protect your brain as you age, make sure you don’t make the mistake 38 million Americans do every day — by taking a drug that robs them of an essential brain nutrient! Click here to discover the truth about the Cholesterol Super-Brain!

Sources:

Healthy lifestyle associated with more years without Alzheimer’s — Eureka Alert

Mediterranean diet and brain structure in a multiethnic elderly cohort — Neurology

Greater body fat a risk factor for reduced thinking and memory ability — Eureka Alert

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Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.