Dr. Zorba Paster: Reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease with these 5 tips for a healthy lifestyle | Madison.com Health, Sports Health & Fitness
I teach a lot of classes on aging. And the older I get, the more interested I am in aging well.
A question I get all the time is, “How can I grow old without having Alzheimer’s disease?” Dementia, memory loss, is a big deal when it comes to living the long, sweet life we crave.
Is there a 100% sure way to prevent it? Obviously not. Are there things you can do to reduce the risk? Sure. What are they? This is the problem.
Compare this to car accidents. When I was a kid, there were more car crash deaths than there are now, and there are a lot more people in the United States driving today. Seat belts, better cars with crumple zones, airbags, better tires, etc. These things all made a difference. We cannot prevent automobile accidents, but we have reduced them considerably.
The same is true when it comes to aging. Things are different than they used to be.
People also read…
Recent research published in the British Medical Journal points out that a healthy lifestyle not only gives you a longer life, but also reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This is the kind of thing that interests me. If I have a long life, I want it to be robust.
The researchers looked at data from nearly 2,500 people aged 65 and older with no history of dementia. It was part of a large, 27-year long-term study, still ongoing, the Chicago Health and Aging Project – the aim of which was to see how well people aging with a particular interest in Alzheimer’s disease. Over the years, people have filled out detailed lifestyle questionnaires.
Participants were encouraged to:
- Devote 150 hours per week to physical activity. That means 20 minutes a day of walking, gardening, and yes, vacuuming counts too. You don’t have to be on a treadmill to move your body.
- Follow a Mediterranean DASH Diet – Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – with a diet high in whole grains, green leafy vegetables and berries, and low in fast foods, fried foods and red meat.
- Engage in cognitive activities such as reading, drawing, stimulating conversations, crosswords and other puzzles, nature walks, visiting museums, learning of any kind, critical thinking – basically in actively using your mind rather than watching TV or movies, which is passive.
- Give up smoking.
- Limit alcohol consumption. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation – one to two drinks a day.
For each lifestyle factor, participants received a score of 1 if they met the criteria for good health and 0 if they did not. Scores for five lifestyle factors were added together to give a final score ranging from 0 to 5, with a higher score indicating a healthier lifestyle. It’s a simple calculation, a simple assessment.
After controlling for other potentially influential factors, including age, gender, education, and finances, the researchers found that, on average, the total life expectancy at age 65 among people with healthy living was approximately 24 additional years for women and 23 for men.
For those with an unhealthy lifestyle, it fell to 21 years older for women and 17 years for men. Now here’s the clincher: When they looked at who had Alzheimer’s disease, they found that about 10% of women who lived healthy lives developed Alzheimer’s disease, while it doubled in 20% if they were not living well. As for men, the same thing happened – 6% of men who lived well developed Alzheimer’s disease, while it doubled to 12% for those with low lifestyle scores.
So what does this mean for you? First off, if you’re living well, you’re still at risk for Alzheimer’s, but there’s a 90% chance you don’t have it if you’re female, and a 94% chance you don’t. not if you are a man. . Not bad, really.
My turn : Lifestyle clearly plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease. Eating well, moving your body, using your brain, not smoking and not drinking too much gives you a longer life which is also more likely to be a life without this devastating disease. The actions you take now can reap great rewards in the future. Stay well.
This column provides general health information. Always consult your personal health care provider about concerns. No continuing relationship of any kind is implied or offered by Dr. Paster to persons submitting questions. All opinions expressed by Dr. Paster in his columns are personal and are not meant to represent or reflect the opinions of SSM Health.