Saturday 1 October 2022

Best Dementia-Busting Tips That Really Work

 Dementia is a disorder that causes the loss of cognitive functioning like reasoning, thinking, remembering and making decisions to the point that it interferes in a person's daily life. Although the condition mostly affects the older community, it's not a normal part of aging and younger people have been known to have dementia as well, but it's not as common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Of those at least 65 years of age, there is an estimated 5.0 million adults with dementia in 2014 and projected to be nearly 14 million by 2060." While there is no cure, there are ways to help reduce your risk and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with  Francine Waskavitz, M.S.,CCC-SLP, IHNC Memory Health Coach who shares five ways to help reduce the chance of dementia.  


Prioritize Sleep

older couple sleeping peacefully

Waskavitz tells us, "Sleep deprivation can pose a real threat to your health, both the next day and overtime. The vitality of every system in your body requires adequate sleep to function properly. Every night while you sleep, your body works to actively fight off disease. For your brain, deep sleep is like a wash cycle, clearing the debris or plaque that can accumulate over time. Researchers believe that these plaques lead to diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia. Sleep deprivation can result in more plaque buildup and less time for your body to clean it up. Getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night can help reduce plaque build up and protect you from dementia."


Commit to New Learning

Group seniors with dementia builds a tower in the nursing home from colorful building blocks

According to Waskavitz, "To build a dementia resistant brain, you need to continue to establish new connections. Your cognitive reserve is your brain's ability to regenerate and strengthen neural connections. People with a greater cognitive reserve are better protected from brain damage or degeneration.

The most effective way to build your cognitive reserve is through brain training, new learning, and exercise. Activities like playing an instrument, learning a new sport, or trying something you have never done before can have long-term benefits to reduce your risk of dementia."


Eat More Greens

leafy greens

Waskavitz shares, "Dark leafy greens are low in sugar and packed full of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that your brain needs to function. Daily intake of dark leafy greens has been associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline in older adults. Results from this study indicated that individuals who consumed one or more servings of dark leafy greens per day demonstrated cognitive testing scores that were eleven years younger than their non-leafy green eating counterparts."



mature couple jogging outdoors

Waskavitz says, "If you do nothing else to reduce your risk of dementia, exercise. Exercise not only improves sleep, focus and memory it can also reduce your risk of Alzheimer's and dementia.  This study shows that exercise slows the onset and progression of cognitive decline. Physical exercise has been shown to stimulate the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus, or the memory center of your brain. Aerobic exercise is effective to reverse volume loss in the hippocampus, which can improve your memory.  Even light aerobic exercise, such as walking, has been associated with a lower risk of all-cause dementia. This study suggests taking 3,800 steps per day can decrease your risk of dementia, with benefits increasing further when individuals walk closer to 9,000 steps per day."  


Eat Less Sugar

Coffee and Sugar Main Picture

Waskavitz states, "According to this study by the New England Journal of Medicine, higher glucose levels are associated with an increased risk of developing dementia. To reduce your risk, you must eat less sugar. You can lower your blood sugar with lifestyle changes like exercising, adding more vegetables to your diet and cutting back on processed foods and refined grains."

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