Surprisingly Easy Ways to Reduce Your Dementia Risk Right Now

You know that one bad habit you know you need to give up, but you just haven’t found the motivation yet? Your brain health might depend on your willingness to quit. Your dementia risk increases if you maintain those poor health habits your doctor keeps mentioning — whether you want to believe it or not.

The good news is, reducing your risk isn’t hard. Here are a few things you can start doing right now to keep your brain in shape.

1. Drink raw juices

Freshly-made juices are displayed.

Raw fruit and veggie juices may fight Alzheimer’s in ways you didn’t know. | Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Investing in a juicer may seriously lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A Vanderbilt University study found that participants could cut their risk of developing the neurodegenerative disease by up to 76% by drinking raw fruit and veggie juices more than three times a week. Researchers know that fruit and vegetable juices contain polyphenols, which link to antioxidants found in plants and can protect the brain from developing Alzheimer’s.

Next: Your multivitamin probably doesn’t include this vitamin.

2. Take a vitamin K supplement

Woman holding supplements

Multivitamins don’t often contain Vitamin K. | iStock.com/diego_cervo

People take a multitude of vitamins, but they often forget about vitamin K. This life-changing vitamin helps clot blood and helps prevent cancer and osteoporosis. A University of North Carolina study found those with “low levels of vitamin K have dysregulated calcium in their brains that causes some of the damage done to the brain in Alzheimer’s.” Another study discovered that patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease consumed considerably less vitamin K than the control group. Taking vitamin K regularly might really benefit you.

Next: People who speak multiple languages have an advantage over those who only speak one.

3. Learn a new language

Woman sitting on a bench reading a book and drinking coffee.

A great hobby for keeping your mind healthy.  | Moussa81/iStock/Getty Images

Could learning a second, or even a third or fourth language decrease your dementia risk? Some experts suggest people who are bilingual develop dementia later than those who aren’t. This could be because switching between multiple languages requires constant mental stimulation — important for delaying or preventing cognitive decline. If you’ve always wanted to learn a second language, now’s the time.

4. Learn to love fish

Fish and a lemon slice over vegetables.

Fish is chock-full of good fats. | iStock.com

A little fat in your diet is good for your brain. Following the Mediterranean diet — high in fish, fish oil, and other foods containing healthy fats — could help delay the onset of dementia later in life. If you really aren’t into eating anything that comes from the ocean, avocados, eggs, and nuts provide similar benefits toward your heart and brain health.

Next: You’ve probably heard that this activity is the best medicine.

5. Laugh more

Friends and family having a meal and laughing.

Good times can keep your health in check. | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

There’s a reason you feel better after watching a comedy or repeating a joke to a friend. Laughter, according to Forbes, acts like a natural antidepressant. It’s also good for your brain as well as your heart. Because it keeps your brain active — your mind has to decode what others’ laughter means — laughing could help delay the cognitive decline associated with dementia and related diseases.

Next: Here’s another habit you might want to consider quitting.

6. Don’t drink too much alcohol

Red wine, cheese, bread and a knife on a wooden table.

Don’t go overboard on the red wine. | Derkien/iStock/Getty Images

Your brain and alcohol aren’t friends. Some observational studies report even moderate alcohol consumption can contribute to cognitive decline in older adults. Again, it’s important to remember that reducing your alcohol consumption can benefit your health in more ways than one. Avoiding liver and brain damage, as well as heart problems, improves your chances of living longer — and healthier.

Next: This form of exercise isn’t getting enough of your attention.

7. Make crossword puzzles part of your daily routine

Crossword puzzles

Crossword puzzles will keep your mind sharp. | Jas0420/iStock/Getty Images

Physical activity is important, but so is mental exercise. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, staying mentally active is an important step in slowing and even preventing cognitive decline. Whether you complete crossword puzzles, memorize and recite state capitals, or attend classes, talks, and lectures on subjects that interest you, do your best to stay curious and keep your brain working hard.

Next: This daily activity has a major impact on your dementia risk.

8. Get better sleep

Man sleeping in his bed.

Another reason why you should never skimp out on sleep. | Tommaso79/iStock/Getty Images

Research published in the journal Neurology suggests getting less REM sleep can increase your dementia risk. Experts believe REM sleep has a direct involvement in your brain’s memory storage and ability to learn and store new information. If you aren’t making sleep a priority, you could already be causing major damage to key areas of your brain associated with the development of dementia.

Next: You’re probably not doing this enough, and it’s hurting your brain.

9. Exercise often

A woman takes a break from running while listening to music.

Another reason to get your workouts in. | Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images

You may not love getting up in the morning to work out, but it’s worth your while. According to the journal Translational Psychiatry, physical activity influences brain health as you age. Regular exercise, even as little as 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, can decrease your dementia risk. Keep your brain sharp and your body looking (and feeling) amazing.

Next: This health condition can destroy your brain — it’s time to get it under control.

10. Get your blood pressure under control

Blood pressure medication and tools on a black table.

If you have high blood pressure, keep it under control. | Ronstik/iStock/Getty Images

Whether you have to take medication, get active, or stop eating potato chips, do whatever you have to do to control your blood pressure. Women especially suffer extreme consequences as a result of high blood pressure — including increased dementia risk. Your brain depends on a fully functioning circulatory system to stay healthy. High blood pressure can damage that system, sometimes preventing your brain from getting enough nutrient-rich blood over time.

 

Next: Here’s why you might need to give up cereal and doughnuts for breakfast.

11. Consume fewer added sugars

Sugar

Sugar is not your friend. | Stocksnapper/iStock/Getty Images

Of the many foods that increase your dementia risk, added sugars should be the first to make a grand exit from your diet. According to Harvard Health, chronically high blood sugar — a symptom of the over-consumption of harmful sugars — increases your risk of dementia. You can avoid the probable cause, insulin resistance, by removing as many added sugars from your meals and snacks as possible.

Next: Add more of this food to your diet instead.

12. Eat more fruit

Oranges, grapefruits and mandarins on a wooden table.

Fruit should always be part of your diet. | Voloshin311/iStock/Getty Images

A healthy diet is as good for your brain as it is for your body. Some observational research highly suggests citrus fruits might protect certain older adults against cognitive decline and dementia. Overall, adding more fruit to your diet can improve your digestion, combat overeating, protect your cells as you age, and even extend your life.

Next: This activity improves your mental health and can slow the onset of dementia.

13. Meditate

Woman meditating on the beach.

Meditation will keep you centered and mindful.  | Kieferpix/iStock/Getty Images

Being more mindful of your surroundings can change your life for the better. According to Medical News Today, meditating regularly can decrease your risk for multiple forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Meditation literally changes your brain, helping you manage your stress and maintain long-term mental health.

Next: Motivation to lace up your running shoes

14. Log 15 miles of running per week

woman running

You should still be focused on implementing a healthy lifestyle. | Lzf/iStock/Getty Images

The National Runners’ and Walkers’ Health Studies found that, among 153,000 participants, those who ran at least 15.3 miles per week saw a 40% drop in Alzheimer’s mortality. Running fewer miles didn’t help as much (they only saw a 6% drop), so you’ve really got to dedicate yourself to a runner’s lifestyle. However, if you seek motivation to train for a marathon, you’ve got it.

Next: Stressed? Here’s why that’s bad news for your brain.

15. Find a healthy way to relieve stress

A woman does a workout in front of her television.

Investing in your health now will pay off later. | Comstock/iStock/Getty Images

The Alzheimer’s Society touches on several possible reasons why long-term stress hurts your brain. Stress produces a hormone called cortisol, which can lead to memory problems over time. Prolonged stress can also lead to other health conditions that put you at a greater risk of developing dementia, like depression. Find a healthy way to manage your stress that works for you, like biking, yoga, or reading.

Next: This bad habit doesn’t just hurt you physically.

16. Quit smoking

A person holding a lit cigarette.

Kick this bad habit. | iStock.com

Smoking is bad for you. You already know this, even if you haven’t quit yet. Here’s another reason to consider giving up the habit: dementia. Your risk for Alzheimer’s disease, the most well-known form of dementia, increases the more you smoke. Even if you cut back only a little bit, you could save your brain a lot of irreversible damage.

Next: Being overweight is dangerous, but it turns out this might hurt you even more.

17. Maintain your ideal (healthy) body weight

Womans feet on weighing scale.

Maintaining a healthy weight is possible with the right resources. | iStock.com

It’s no secret that long-term obesity increases risk for multiple diseases over your lifetime. However, a study published in The Lancet that spanned over multiple decades found that being underweight can also cause you harm. Compared to people maintaining a healthy weight, underweight individuals had a 34% higher risk of dementia. Being overweight doesn’t necessarily increase your dementia risk, but chronic conditions like heart disease — often associated with excess fat tissue — do.

Next: You could be deficient in one specific dementia-preventing vitamin.

18. Add more green leafy veggies to your plate

A wooden bowl full of leafy greens.

Leafy greens should make regular appearances on your plate. | Vkuslandia/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Eating your veggies is essential for brain health. Vegetables have been associated with a lower risk of dementia in older adults. Like we said before, Vitamin K specifically seems to keep our brains in good health. Science Daily explains you can find this vitamin in green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, which are easy to add to sandwiches, salads, pasta bowls, and more.

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