Surprisingly Easy Ways to Reduce Your Dementia Risk Right Now
Everyone knows damaging habits, like smoking or drinking too much, can hurt your body, especially your brain. But did you know other habits can reduce your risk of dementia and brain-related diseases? You can start doing the following things right now to keep your brain in shape. The simple act on page 10 requires little effort but makes a huge difference.
1. Take a vitamin K supplement
- Why: A University of North Carolina study found low levels of vitamin K are associated with brain damage linked to Alzheimer’s.
This life-changing vitamin helps clot blood and prevent cancer and osteoporosis. Another study found patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s consumed much less vitamin K than the control group.
Next: If you drive, bike, or ski, you must do this.
2. Protect your head
- Why: Brain trauma from a car accident, athletic event, or fall raises your risk of dementia and cognitive decline.
It may seem simples, but it pays to play it safe. Use a seat belt, wear a helmet, and watch your steps.
Next: Did you skip this class in school?
3. Learn a new language
- Why: Switching between multiple languages requires constant mental stimulation, which can delay or prevent cognitive decline.
If you’ve always wanted to learn a second language, now’s the time. Some experts believe people who are bilingual develop dementia later than those who aren’t.
Next: Motivation to lace up your old running shoes
4. Run 15 miles per week
- Why: A study found those who ran at least 15.3 miles per week saw a 40% drop in Alzheimer’s mortality.
Not everyone can run this much, but for those who can, it’s seriously worth doing. A 40% drop is huge (running fewer miles didn’t help as much among the 153,000 participants; they only saw a 6% drop).
Next: Embrace a difference kind of scale.
5. Learn to love fish
- Why: Eating a Mediterranean diet — fish, fish oil, and other foods with healthy fats — can delay the onset of dementia.
A little fat in your diet is good for your brain. If you aren’t into eating anything from the ocean, then avocados, eggs, and nuts provide similar benefits.
Next: You should feel pressure to remedy this issue.
6. Get your blood pressure under control
- Why: Your brain depends on a fully functioning circulatory system to stay healthy.
Women especially suffer extreme consequences as a result of high blood pressure — including increased dementia risk. This condition can prevent your brain from getting enough nutrient-rich blood.
Next: Put your critical-thinking skills to the test.
7. Make crossword puzzles part of your daily routine
- Why: Staying mentally active is an important step in slowing and even preventing cognitive decline, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Whether you complete crossword puzzles, memorize state capitals, or attend classes, and lectures on subjects that interest you, do your best to stay curious and work your brain.
Next: Don’t be afraid to get raw.
8. Drink raw juices
- Why: You can cut your risk of dementia by up to 76% by drinking raw fruit and veggie juices more than three times a week.
Consider investing in a juicer. Fruit and vegetable juices contain polyphenols, which can protect the brain from developing Alzheimer’s.
Next: You’ve heard that this activity is the best medicine.
9. Laugh more
- Why: Laughter acts as a natural antidepressant, according to Forbes.
There’s a reason you feel better after watching a comedy or telling a joke. Because laughter keeps your brain active — your mind must decode what others’ laughter means — it can delay the cognitive decline associated with dementia.
Next: This simple act fights dementia but requires little effort.
10. Get better sleep
- Why: Those who don’t get enough sleep can damage areas of your brain linked to dementia development.
Experts believe REM sleep has a direct involvement in your brain’s memory storage and ability to learn and store new information.
Next: A clear mind = a clean brain.
- Why: Meditating regularly can decrease your risk of multiple forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Meditation literally changes your brain, helping you manage stress and maintain long-term mental health.
Next: You can’t fight what you don’t know.
12. Learn to spot early signs of Alzheimer’s
- Why: If you detect the symptoms early on, you can slow the onset of Alzheimer’s.
More treatment options are available if you spot Alzheimer’s early. Some signs include vision problems, poor decision-making, misplacing things, struggling with conversations, and losing track of dates or times.
Next: Work your body to improve your brain.
13. Exercise often
- Why: Regular exercise, even as little as 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, can decrease your dementia risk.
According to the journal Translational Psychiatry, physical activity influences brain health as you age. So, keep your brain sharp and your body looking (and feeling) great.
Next: Become a salad person.
14. Add more green leafy veggies to your plate
- Why: You can find brain-boosting vitamin K in green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale.
It’s easy to add leafy greens to sandwiches, salads, pasta bowls, and more. These vegetables have been associated with a lower risk of dementia in older adults.
Next: Why you need to give up doughnuts for breakfast
15. Consume fewer added sugars
- Why: Chronically high blood sugar — a symptom of overconsuming harmful sugars — increases your risk of dementia.
Of the many foods that increase your dementia risk, added sugars should be the first to exit your diet. You can avoid the probable cause, insulin resistance, by removing as many added sugars from your food as possible.
Next: Here’s another habit you might want to consider quitting.
16. Don’t drink too much alcohol
- Why: Some studies report even moderate alcohol consumption can contribute to cognitive decline in older adults.
Reducing your alcohol consumption can benefit your health in many ways. Avoiding liver, brain, and heart damage improves your chances of living longer and healthier.
Next: Stressed? Bad news for your brain.
17. Find a healthy way to relieve stress
- Why: Stress produces a hormone, cortisol, which can lead to memory problems over time.
The Alzheimer’s Society touches on many reasons why long-term stress hurts your brain, including cortisol production. Prolonged stress can also lead to conditions like depression, which put you at a greater risk of developing dementia. Find a healthy way to manage stress, like biking, yoga, or reading.
Next: This bad habit doesn’t just hurt you physically.
18. Quit smoking
- Why: Your risk for Alzheimer’s disease increases the more you smoke.
You already know smoking is bad for you. But even if you cut back only a little bit, you could save your brain a lot of irreversible damage.
Next: Pay attention to your scale.
19. Maintain an ideal (healthy) body weight
- Why: Underweight individuals have a 34% higher risk of dementia compared to those with a healthy weight.
A study published in The Lancet found being underweight can cause you harm. (Being overweight didn’t necessarily increase dementia risk, but chronic conditions like heart disease, often associated with excess fat tissue, do.)
Next: Add more of this food to your diet instead.
20. Eat more fruit
- Why: Some research suggests citrus fruits protect certain older adults against cognitive decline and dementia.
A healthy diet is as good for your brain as it is for your body. And adding more fruit to your diet can improve digestion, combat overeating, protect your cells as you age, and even extend your life.