There is no way to prevent dementia altogether, but there are things that can be done to reduce the risk of developing it. For example, studies have indicated that there is a link between cardiovascular health and dementia. A healthy cardiovascular system relies on blood vessels that can circulate oxygen and vital nutrients efficiently throughout the body. Any damage to blood vessels anywhere in the body can cause blood-vessel blockages in the brain which depriving brain cells of essential elements. Damaged blood vessels in the brain can lead to vascular dementia, a condition that often coexists with Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia. By protecting the heart we in turn protect the brain.
Eat a healthy balanced diet
The Mediterranean diet, with its proven benefits to heart health is highly recommended. This diet consists of relatively little red meat, lots of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, it uses herbs as a flavouring rather than salt and nuts, olive oil, and other healthy fats instead of butter or other saturated fats
Also try and get plenty of omega-3 fats. Evidence suggests that the DHA found in these healthy fats may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by reducing beta-amyloid plaques. Omega-3 fats can be found cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, seaweed, and sardines.
Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
Studies have overwhelmingly demonstrated that regular exercise can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia by increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain. A recent UK study found that a group of people who had been diagnosed with an early, mild form of vascular dementia and who followed an exercise regimen of brisk, one-hour walks three times a week, had lower blood pressure and significantly improved cognitive function after a 6 month period. The aim should be to undertake moderate activities such as gardening, walking, cleaning for 30 minutes at a time, 5 days a week
Avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption
There is compelling evidence that smoking can increase your risk of developing dementia. Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, have both been linked to problems with the vascular system, smoking increases the risk of vascular problems and that puts you more at risk of developing dementia. Also studies have shown that the toxins in cigarette smoke increase oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which have both been linked to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Stopping smoking can reduce this risk as well as improve your overall health.
Moderation is the key for alcohol consumption. Having a drink in company or at the end of the day is a sociable activity and can be a pleasant way to relax. However, people with dementia can become more confused after a drink, so it may be prudent to limit the amount consumed. General NHS guidelines recommend that women should not regularly drink more than one or two small glasses of wine a day and men should not regularly drink more than one pint of strong larger/beer a day.
Social Engagement and Staying Mentally Active
There is no doubt that social engagement can help keep the brain healthy. Researchers have concluded that high levels of social engagement and interaction with others seems to prevent or delay dementia. The researchers also saw a clear association between maintaining or increasing social-engagement levels and reduced dementia risk. the key is to keep as busy as possible, join a lunch club, continue with or take up a new hobby, accept every opportunity to engage with the world around you.
Staying mentally active may also protect the brain in both long and short term. Learning a new skill, pursuing a new hobby, doing puzzles and crosswords or taking classes where you learn and process new information may help preserve brain function.