UPDATE (7/10) — If you want to prevent dementia, you might want to make getting a good night’s rest a new habit. Just weeks after a recent report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommended staying active, keeping your blood pressure down, and training your brain to prevent dementia, a new study has emerged citing a new potential means of prevention.
The study, published in the journal Neurology, said that poor quality sleep and daytime drowsiness may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life. It’s important to note that the association between poor sleep and dementia is still not 100 percent clear, but this latest study is adding to a growing body of research that the bad sleep could potentially be a cause of these diseases later on. But in any case, we already know that good sleep is essential to good health anyway, so it never hurts to catch those Z’s even if you’re not at risk!
(6/26) — Want to prevent dementia later in life? You’re certainly not alone. After all, dementia is a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Though there’s unfortunately no way to absolutely guarantee that you won’t develop dementia, there are a few things that scientists think we can do to keep dementia at bay.
According to a recent report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the key to reducing your risk of dementia lies in three pertinent steps.
1. Train your brain.
2. Keep your blood pressure down.
3. Stay active.
“The ideas were there before the report,” said Dan G. Blazer, a member of the NASEM committee that conducted the study. “What is good for the heart is good for the brain. Therefore, exercise and controlling high blood pressure are good for the brain.”
Sure enough, the Alzheimer’s Association had published their own review back in 2015, identifying increasing physical activity and improving cardiovascular health as two key ways to reduce the risk of any type of cognitive decline.
But now, Blazer said, cognitive training is getting quite a bit of attention as well. Cognitive training, or programs or exercises aimed at improving reasoning, problem-solving, memory, and processing speed, was used in a randomized trial of participants called the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) trial. As it turned out, those people who had received cognitive training showed much less decline than the folks that didn’t receive it, after a period of 10 years had passed.
More research is needed before any sort of public health campaign begins about cognitive training, especially since experts called the results “encouraging, but inconclusive.”
“(Cognitive training) is an area worthy of looking forward,” said Blazer.
NEXT: See the foods you should eat to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s below.
Three glasses of champagne every week is enough to keep Alzheimer's and dementia at bay, research says. A study out of the University of Reading revealed that a compound in the grapes used to make champagne can help "increase spatial memory, improve cognitive function and promote learning and memory retention."
Every day, eat green leafy vegetables and one other kind of veggie. Sound hard? Think salads, with a mix of lettuce, baby spinach or kale, carrots, bell peppers, and cauliflower or broccoli. Done!
High in healthy fats, nuts are not only good for your brain, but your heart and waistline, too. So snack on a handful on most days.
Study after study has proven the brain benefits of blueberries. These little blue blobs of goodness are known to keep your memory sharp and delay cognitive disorders.
Eat beans every other day. That's easy in the wintertime with soups and chili! Plus, they are a super-cheap source of protein. The canned variety are fine.
Eat poultry at least twice a week. But stay away from processed meats like cold cuts. Those can raise your cancer risk.
Considered a "good fat," olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that can prevent inflammation in the body. Look for cold-pressed, good quality olive oil to reap all of its benefits.
Eat fish at least once a week. Salmon is especially good for brains and hearts.
A pinch of dark chocolate cocoa powder in your morning coffee can do more good for you than you think. Studies show this semi-sweet treat can help aide memory retention, control blood pressure, and insulin resistance.
You can have a glass of wine every day!
Try to eat berries at least twice a week. Sprinkle them on your cereal or enjoy them with a little yogurt for snack. (Sprinkle nuts on top and you have a healthy sundae!)
No, eclairs aren't part of the MIND diet (sadly). Sweets and pastries belong to the types of foods you need to restrict to a serving a week to stave off dementia. Other foods to limit include: cheese (once a week); fried or fast food (once a week); and butter (to one tablespoon a day).