What to Do Now to Dodge Dementia Later

By Beth Ricanati, M.D. for YouBeauty.com
Put yourself on the track toward many healthy, happy golden years.

What to Do Now to Dodge Dementia Later

Getting old is getting expensive. Really expensive. Think billions hundreds of billions, even. And according to an April 2013 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, it’s just going to get more so in the coming decades. Why? The incidence of dementia is on the rise in our country, and it is a pricey disease. There are so many costs associated with dementia medication, health care, home care, etc. It’s not just as simple as taking a pill and calling your doc in the morning.

Fortunately, dementia is a chronic disease. "Fortunate?!" you say. Yup, fortunate, because like many chronic diseases, dementia is in part lifestyle-driven, which means that you can help control it. There is an abundance of research, and more emerging every day, that what you eat, how active you are and how you manage your stress today all contribute to your risk of dementia later in life.


Let’s break down what you can do.

Watch What You Eat
Brain food is good food. Specifically, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are great for your brain. Yet another reason to eat salmon and nuts, especially walnuts. Food choices also impact your stroke risk, which can affect your risk of vascular dementia. (Dementia is not just a code word for Alzheimer’s. There are actually different kinds of dementia.) A diet high in sodium, for example, is known to increase your stroke risk. So to minimize that risk, plant some yummy herbs this spring and sprinkle those into your meals instead of reaching for the salt shaker.

Exercise
Put on those running shoes and get moving! Turns out that the recommendation from the American Heart Association to take 10,000 steps a day isn’t just good for your heart: It’s good for your mind as well. A study published this winter in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that participants who exercised in their middle age could reduce their risk of later developing dementia.

Kick Back
Take your pick: Maybe it’s yoga or meditation or the New York Times crossword puzzle. Do whatever makes you feel connected and engaged. A growing body of research suggests that leisurely activities that keep you busy – body and mind – help decrease your risk of cognitive decline. Relaxing fun now, health later. Not bad, eh?


More From YouBeauty.com
How Fast Are You Aging?
The Many Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
Hobbies for Happiness and Health

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Forgive yourself, and start walking toward a healthier you.

For those of you who have put on the Pandemic Pounds or added several new COVID Curves, you are not alone. Alarmingly, the American Psychological Association has recently published that almost half of all adults in their survey now have a larger physique. In fact, 42% of people reported gaining roughly 15 pounds (the average published was surprisingly 29 pounds but that included outliers) over the past year. Interestingly, 20% of adults in this survey lost about 12 pounds (I am surely not in this group). Clearly, there is a relationship between stress and weight change. In addition, one in four adults disclosed an increase in alcohol consumption, and 67% of participants distressingly revealed that they have new sleeping patterns.

This past year has brought about what has been called the 'new normal.' Social isolation and inactivity due to quarantining and remote working have sadly contributed to the decline in many people's mental and physical health, as demonstrated by the widespread changes in people's weight, alcohol consumption, and sleeping patterns. Gym closures, frequent ordering of unhealthy takeout, and increased time at home cooking and devouring comfort foods have had a perceptible impact. In addition, many people have delayed routine medical care and screening tests over fear of contracting Covid-19 during these visits. Unfortunately, the 'new normal' has now placed too many people at risk for serious health consequences, including heart attacks and strokes.

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