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Proven Ways to Prevent Dementia, Say Experts

Five things that help prevent dementia, doctor says.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

According to The World Health Organization, more than 55 million people worldwide live with dementia—a disorder that affects memory, thinking and behavior in adults mostly over 65. Although not as common, people in their 30s, 40's and 50's have been known to have dementia as well. WHO states, "Dementia is a syndrome – usually of a chronic or progressive nature – that leads to deterioration in cognitive function (i.e. the ability to process thought) beyond what might be expected from the usual consequences of biological aging. It affects memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language, and judgment. Consciousness is not affected. The impairment in cognitive function is commonly accompanied, and occasionally preceded, by changes in mood, emotional control, behavior, or motivation." While there's no cure for dementia, there are things we can do to help prevent it. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Ziad Nasreddine MD, Neurologist, Creator of the MoCA, Director of MoCA Clinic and Institute who explained five things people can do to help avoid getting dementia. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Stay Well Informed

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Dr. Nasreddine says, "Keep a daily journal by summarizing in one to two sentences the activities that you have done during the day and the news items that you found important. This will help increase your knowledge base thus building a cognitive reserve that will be helpful to resist against degenerative disease. This information will then be useful when engaging in socially stimulating activities."

2

Socialize

Mother and her adult daughter hugging in cafe
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According to Dr. Nasreddine, "Spending quality time with your loved ones including family and friends will stimulate your brain and force your neuron network to create new synapses and activate old ones. Talking about your experiences, your plans will train your memory and language circuits as well as your reasoning and analytical abilities. Giving your opinion about subjects that are in the news will help you stay up-to-date while explaining your point of view on different topics."

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3

Stay Physically Active

middle-aged woman jogging in winter in a close up low angle view against a sunny blue sky in a healthy active lifestyle
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"Physical activity, such as walking, for at least 150 min per week, will increase the secretion of brain growth factors which may prevent neurodegeneration and protect you against Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Nasreddine explains. "Exercise increases blood flow and brain oxygen levels thus keeping your mind sharp. It also increases the endorphins which enhance the feeling of well being and decreases stress and anxiety which have negative effects on brain function."

RELATED: Not Remembering This One Thing Can Be a Sign of Dementia

4

Control Vascular Risk Factors

General practitioner and her aged patient talking about heart diseases
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Dr. Nasreddine states, "Not well controlled Diabetes, Hypertension, and High Cholesterol, have negative impact on cognitive performance as they can disturb neuronal function, and thus hasten the speed of cognitive decline and dementia. Multiple studies have shown that subjects with well controlled vascular risk factors have much better outcomes."

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5

Eat Mediterranean Diet

mediterranean diet
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Diet plays a key role in helping prevent dementia. Dr. Nasreddine says, " Up-to 40% reduction in the risk of dementia can be achieved for people who adhere to this diet. You have to increase the intake of fish up to three times a week, favor olive oil, nuts, fruits such as berries, and leafy green vegetables. Avoid red meat, dairy products, and artificial sweets. Red wine in moderation also has a protective effect." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more