Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia
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Published on Wednesday, May 18, the research paper highlights that poor vascular health can affect blood flow to the brain, thereby damaging cells irreparably. In your 60s, having high blood pressure and blood sugar increases dementia risk in the following decade, according to the study. Printed in the journal Neurology, Dr Rosa Sancho – Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK – commented on the findings.
“The findings from this study confirm existing research, which links vascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, with an increased risk of developing dementia in later life.
“We know that poorer vascular health can increase the chances of developing small vessel disease and other conditions that affect blood flow in the brain, which then damages our brain cells irreparably.”
A diabetes diagnosis, from the age of 65 to 80, increased a person’s risk of developing dementia compared to non-diabetics.
In midlife, people living with diabetes had a four times greater risk of developing dementia than those who didn’t.
Midlife high blood pressure also increased dementia risk, but taking antihypertensive medication in later life did marginally reduce this risk.
Dr Sancho added: “We do know that it’s never too early or too late in life to take steps to reduce our risk of dementia and improve our brain health.
“Not smoking, only drinking in moderation, staying mentally, physically and socially active, eating a balanced diet, and keeping cholesterol and blood pressure levels in check can all help to keep our brains healthy as we age.”
Midlife is considered a “critical time point” for reducing your risk of dementia by getting on top of your health.
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How to reduce diabetes risk
Leading charity Diabetes UK recommends having a healthy diet to lower your diabetes risk.
Simple dietary adjustments can include swapping any sugary and fizzy drinks for water.
“Evidence also shows that drinking unsweetened tea and coffee is associated with a reduced risk,” Diabetes UK noted.
The best beverages include: plain water, plain milk, tea or coffee without added sugar.
Incorporate healthy sources of carbohydrates into your diet, such as:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Pulses such has chickpeas, beans and lentils
- Dairy like unsweetened yoghurt and milk.
At the same time you need to cut down on red and processed meat, and replace it with:
- Pulses such as beans and lentils
- Chicken and turkey
- Unsalted nuts.
You also need to be mindful of your salt consumption and to include healthier fats into your diet, such as seeds, avocados, and sunflower oil.
It’s also important to exercise for at least 150 minutes each week to reduce your risk of disease.
Improving muscle strength is also helpful, which can be done via activities such as heavy gardening, carrying the shopping, yoga, and lifting weights.
By eating healthier and exercising regularly you are also reducing your risk of high blood pressure.
If you are unsure what your blood pressure reading is, you can purchase a blood pressure monitor from a high street pharmacy.
An ideal blood pressure reading is around 120/80mmHg or less; readings can also be taken at the doctor’s.
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