5 Things You Can Do When You’re Young to Prevent Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is a disease nobody wants to get, yet it’s more common than you might think. About 5.7 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s, and 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 will be diagnosed with the disease. But are there things you can do when you’re younger to lessen your likelihood of getting the disease? Experts say yes.
1. Get a college education
According to a study out of the University of Southern California, earning a college degree can reduce your risk of developing dementia or at least delay the initial symptoms until later in life. According to the study, those who are less educated are more likely to be diagnosed with dementia, and at an earlier age. The study measured the cognitive abilities of more than 10,000 elderly people and found that those with college educations had a higher cognitive ability well into their 80s. Those without a college education only had good cognition up until their 70s. The study relates a higher education to a higher cognitive ability that lasts many years.
2. Exercise daily
Several studies maintain that exercise is one of the best ways to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s. In fact, as many as 1 in 3 cases of dementia are preventable through lifestyle changes — and exercise was a big factor. The World Health Organization recommends that those over 65 get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week to prevent the onset of the disease. But exercise habits start when you’re young. Make a habit of going to the gym a few times per week or taking morning walks. If you carry that habit with you in the years to come, it may prolong your life.
3. Maintain a social life
Having a solid relationship with friends and family is beneficial for many reasons, but it may also cut your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Researchers suggest that participating in leisure activities with friends, such as taking a trip or going to the movies, can cut your risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 38%. It’s important to develop a good foundation for family and friend relationships while you’re young. As you get older, you may find that you have less time to spend with friends and family. But if you water those relationships while you’re young, they’ll grow and maintain themselves when you get older — even if you can’t get together every day.
4. Keep your blood pressure controlled
A recent study showed that those with low, controlled blood pressure are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those with high blood pressure. According to the study, those who had a diastolic blood pressure of 120 or less were 19% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than those with high blood pressure. Mild cognitive impairment often leads to Alzheimer’s. The study was published in July 2018, and more studies are needed to definitively conclude the connection, but doctors are confident a healthier heart is directly related to a healthier brain.
5. Be mindful of what you’re eating
The foods you put into your body can have a great effect on your heart and brain health. And our eating habits develop when we’re young. Research shows that a poor diet reflects poor brain health and can increase your likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s. Healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and more help fuel the brain to keep it thinking sharply. If you fill your body with unhealthy foods, the brain doesn’t have the proper fuel necessary to keep it in tip top shape, and problems can arise. Teach yourself (or your children) proper eating habits from a young age to promote brain health in your old age.
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