Making four out of five critical lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 60 percent, new research finds.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia: one-in-ten Americans over the age of 65 has the devastating disease.
The behaviours are limiting alcohol intake, a high-quality diet, exercise for brain and body and not smoking:
- A high quality diet involves eating something like the MIND diet.
- Giving up smoking — even after 60 — benefits physical and cognitive health.
- 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise is a good weekly target.
- Limit alcohol to light or moderate intake. In the US, moderate drinking is no more than 2 standard drinks per day for men and 1 for women (i.e. 2 glasses of wine for men and 1 for women).
- Keep the mind active with intellectually engaging tasks, such as hobbies or social activities.
Even following just two or three of these lifestyle changes is linked to reducing Alzheimer’s risk by 37 percent.
However, the more lifestyle factors people adhere to, the lower their risk of dementia.
Dr Richard J. Hodes, Director of the National Institute on Aging, said:
“This observational study provides more evidence on how a combination of modifiable behaviors may mitigate Alzheimer’s disease risk.
The findings strengthen the association between healthy behaviors and lower risk, and add to the basis for controlled clinical trials to directly test the ability of interventions to slow or prevent development of Alzheimer’s disease.”
The study included 1,845 people from whom data on diet, lifestyle factors, genetics and cognitive function was collected.
Following four of the five lifestyle factors reduced Alzheimer’s risk by 60 percent, the study found.
Dr Dallas Anderson, who also works at the NIA, said:
“This population-based study helps paint the picture of how multiple factors are likely playing parts in Alzheimer’s disease risk.
It’s not a clear cause and effect result, but a strong finding because of the dual data sets and combination of modifiable lifestyle factors that appear to lead to risk reduction.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Neurology (Dhana et al., 2020).