With the world’s population rising at an exponential rate, the number of people with dementia and other similar conditions is also increasing.
Based on current stats, the number of individuals affected by dementia is expected to double every 20 years. This means that by the year 2050, more than 130 million people worldwide will be living with the condition.
Medical experts are still trying to find a cure for dementia, although medications and therapy are helpful in minimizing its symptoms and slowing dementia’s progression.
Facts about dementia
Dementia is a term that is used to describe a wide range of symptoms associated with memory loss and poor thinking abilities that adversely affect a person’s ability to perform day-to-day tasks.
Dementia is rare in younger individuals and mostly those who are aged 60 and above are affected by it. Another study has also discovered that women are more susceptible to developing the condition than men.
As a matter of fact, UK dementia stats claim that 61% of people with dementia are women while 39% are men. The same is case for the American population where it is said that every one in six women carries a risk of developing dementia compared to 1 in 11 men.
But what could be the reason behind this alarming situation? Is it because women tend to live longer than their male counterparts? Or is it because women’s minds deteriorate much faster than those of men? Perhaps it’s a result of women’s fluctuating hormones?
Regardless of the reason, prevention is better than cure. Since there is no permanent cure for dementia yet, one should adopt habits that preserve the mind.
One of the best ways to do so is by partaking in a daily exercise routine and eating a balanced and healthy diet. This is especially important for women as they are more susceptible to the condition.
Eat a balanced diet
Proper nutrition is not only important for a healthy body but also for a sharp mind. Eating the right foods help protect the brain from chemicals, also known as free radicals, that can damage it in the long run.
Some foods you should incorporate in your daily diet are;
- Leafy green vegetables
- A vega protein diet
- Salmon and other cold-water fishes
- Beans and whole grains
- Almonds, cashews, and walnuts
- Omega 3s
- Sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- Cinnamon, turmeric, and cumin
You may be wondering why the food that we eat routinely is not included in the list. That’s because the staples that make up a big portion of our diet are known to hamper memory. Therefore, white bread, processed foods, cheese, sausages, alcohol, and even margarine have been linked with dementia and should be avoided. Instead, choose whole grain breads, unprocessed food, fruits, vegetables and lean meats.
Some vitamins and minerals have also been found to reduce the risk of developing dementia. These include;
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B12 and folic acid
These supplements should be incorporated in your daily diet, especially starting from middle age to avoid any deficiency which might result in mental decline. However, before you start using them, make sure to consult with a doctor.
Staying hydrated is equally important for mental health because water balances the function of every part of the body, including the brain.
The cells of our brain require hydration to function optimally. This means that a proper balance between water and other elements is necessary to keep the brain cells effective.
Drinking sufficient amounts of water everyday is not only known to keep the brain sharp but also improves memory, focus, and problem solving skills.
Just like exercise leads to better health for the body, it leads to a healthier brain too. Regular physical exercise helps increase the blood flow to the brain which improves memory, balance, coordination, and reflexes.
Physical exercise also helps improve the levels of serotonin which is a chemical responsible for good mood. The lower the levels of serotonin in the body, the more depressed, anxious, and stressed out a person will be.
According to the National Institutes of Health, being physically active may also halt or even delay the onset of several cognitive diseases including Alzheimer’s, mixed dementia, and other age-related illnesses. The institute has also claimed that those who don’t participate in any physical exercise from a young age are twice as likely to develop a brain-related condition than those who are active.
Staying cognitively active, through mental stimulation and social engagement, is equally important to reduce the risk of dementia.
A large observational study was conducted to establish this fact in which more than 700 participants were asked if they liked listening to the radio, reading books, playing puzzles, or visiting the museum. After four years, it was seen that those who enjoyed the regular, leisurely activities had 47% lower risk of developing the condition than those who liked being idle.
Some examples of mental exercise that can be initiated from the mid age include:
- Reading books and newspapers
- Doing puzzles
- Playing board games
- Taking part in voluntary activities
- Taking dancing and singing lessons
- Learning new skills
Furthermore, it is also important to spend a lot of quality time with friends and family to keep stress at bay. It is also essential to ensure that no injury goes unnoticed or untreated. Head injuries are directly linked with dementia and Alzheimer’s; thus, it is important that everyone protects their head from any potential injury by wearing a helmet, using seatbelts when driving, and avoiding sports with an increased risk of head injuries.
Moreover, keep a close check on your brain health by visiting a doctor regularly and taking an online sage test called BrainTest regularly which assesses brain health.
Prevention is better than cure
Alzheimer’s and dementia is a lifelong condition that not only affects the individual who has it but also his loved ones. It is very difficult to look after a loved one who is going through this condition; and even though there is no guarantee that the preventive measures will be 100% effective in delaying the disorder – it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Guest Post by Erica Silva
Erica Silva is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs. Find her on Twitter:@ericadsilva1