Long term study
These six factors prevent dementia
In a long-term study, Chinese researchers deciphered six factors that prevent dementia. According to scientists, lifestyle plays the most important role.
Dementia can affect anyone. According to the German Alzheimer’s Association, around 1.8 million Germans had the disease at the end of 2021. Most of them are over 65 years old. To date, there is no cure. However, you can start early to prevent dementia. Chinese scientists from the National Center for Neurological Disorders in Beijing have identified six factors that can prevent dementia in a long-term study.
Long-term study: Scientists unearth six factors that prevent dementia
This study is one of the largest and most complex ever conducted on this topic. It began in 2009 and has been conducted with 23,000 people over the age of 60. Initially, all of the people tested were screened for their memory abilities and the so-called “APOE gene,” which is considered a strong risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. The test subjects were then monitored for ten years with regular exams.
A value for a healthy lifestyle was calculated, which includes six factors: healthy nutrition, regular exercise, active social contacts, cognitive activity, no smoking and no alcohol consumption.
Depending on the score, from zero to six, participants were divided into “lifestyle groups”: favorable (four to six health factors), moderate (two to three health factors), or unfavorable (0 to 1 health factors). In addition, they were divided into groups of APOE gene carriers and non-carriers.
The test subjects were divided into “lifestyle groups”.
Consider eating at least seven of the 12 healthy food groups: fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, dairy, salt, oil, eggs, grains, legumes, nuts and tea.
Writing, reading, and playing cards or other games were counted as cognitive activities if they were performed at least twice a week.
Other criteria examined included abstinence from alcohol, more than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or more than 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week, and whether subjects smoked or were former smokers.
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Socialization at least twice a week was the sixth health factor. This included activities such as visiting family and friends, attending meetings, or attending parties.
Any type of healthy behavior is associated with slower memory decline
After accounting for factors that might influence the results, the researchers found an encouraging result: Each individual type of “healthy behavior” was associated with a slower than average rate of memory decline over the 10 years studied.
A healthy diet had the greatest effect in slowing memory decline, followed by cognitive activity and physical activity.
Overall, people with four to six healthy behaviors were 90 percent less likely to develop dementia or mild cognitive impairment than people with no or only healthy lifestyles. With two to three healthy behaviors, the percentage was at least 30 percent.
These results do not guarantee that you will not develop dementia in old age. Scientists hypothesize that genetic predispositions are another cause of dementia. In addition to healthy nutrition and adequate sports, mental and social activities, the German Alzheimer’s Association also recommends the treatment of diseases such as high blood pressure, arrhythmias or diabetes.
Sources:Beijing National Center for Neurological Disorders Study, German Alzheimer’s Society eV
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