You’ve heard it all before — living an active, healthy lifestyle is crucial for surviving well into your senior years. And if someone in your family has dementia, then you’re probably particularly wary of how you’re treating your body. In case you’re unfamiliar, this condition is characterized by cognitive decline. This can include memory loss and a reduction in the ability to communicate and properly reason or judge. And even the simplest everyday habits may be increasing your risk.
Remember — Alzheimer’s is just one type of dementia
Alzheimer’s is certainly the most talked about form of dementia, but it’s by no means the only one. There’s also cognitive decline that can occur from poor heart health, or Parkinson’s disease that develops into dementia over time.
While some forms of this condition are totally genetic, there’s a lot you can do to protect your brain. To start with the obvious, eating right, exercising, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption and smoking are a few. As for the not so obvious habits, this next one you’ll definitely want to break.
The habit to break: Going to too many loud concerts
All those concerts of your youth may have lead to some hearing loss, which can actually increase your odds of developing dementia. Beltone explains several studies show a correlation between hearing loss greater than 25 decibels and dementia development in adults over 60. Researchers are still trying to find exactly why this is, but in the meantime, make sure you’re protecting your hearing.
This isn’t the only habit you need to break to avoid dementia, either. Read on for even more.
Not eating citrus
Fruit is a necessary part of a healthy diet, but citrus might be key in preventing dementia. A study from the British Journal of Nutrition used data on 13,000 Japanese adults and found those who ate citrus nearly every day were a lot less likely to develop the condition. Mandarin oranges were the most common citrus fruit consumed amongst this demographic, AARP notes. But if you can get your hands on clementines, grapefruit, lemons, limes, or oranges, that works just fine, too.
Eating a lot of white foods
Still on the nutrition side of things, there are some foods that increase the likelihood of developing memory loss. Alzheimers.net says “white foods,” like white bread, flour, white rice, pasta, and sugar are amongst some of the biggest offenders. These foods spike your blood sugar when you eat them, resulting in inflammation, which can really harm your brain. You’ll want to watch your processed meat and dairy consumption, too, as that’s also not helping.
Ignoring your seat belt and not wearing your helmet
If you’ve ever experienced a traumatic brain injury, the Alzheimer’s Association notes you may have an increased risk of developing dementia. One study in particular shows older adults who have a history of moderate brain injuries are over twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared to seniors who have no such history. And older adults who have experienced severe trauma may be over four times as likely.
Just to be clear, not everyone who has had a head injury will develop dementia. But you’ll want to wear a helmet on your bike rides just in case.
Staying up way past your bedtime
CNN says 45% of the world’s population isn’t getting enough sleep — and it’s becoming a public health crisis. A study from Neurology shows those who get less deep, REM sleep may be more likely to develop dementia later in life. This may be because disturbed sleep causes more buildup of beta amyloid. This is the protein that forms into the plaque that kills brain cells and slows your ability to process information.
Leaving your high blood pressure or diabetes untreated
High blood pressure and diabetes aren’t just harmful to your body — they’re also hurting your brain when left untreated. Howard Fillit, M.D., tells Reader’s Digest diabetics have an increased risk of developing dementia by up to 73%. And having hypertension is also hurting your brain health significantly.
If you do have either of these diseases, then it’s important to visit a doctor and get their recommendation on how best to manage it. And as always, do your best to avoid hypertension and diabetes with a healthy lifestyle.