Lifestyle Changes That Can Prevent Dementia

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Dementia is related to a group of symptoms that affects thinking, memory and social abilities severely enough to disturb your daily life. Dementia is not a specific disease, but it causes memory loss and impaired thinking and reasoning skills. Even though Dementia involves amnesia (memory loss), amnesia has other variable causes.

Risk factors of Dementia 

Family history 

According to Jama neurology’s case study, a person with a family history of Dementia is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia.

This study suggests that the presence of the APOE gene is a risk factor gene for Alzheimer’s disease. APOE gene is a protein which combines with fat and forms lipoprotein molecules. The inheritance of this gene in a person does not mean to develop Dementia in them. But the lipid imbalance in brain cells may result in Dementia.

Down syndrome 

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that people with Down syndrome experience heart issues which increase the risk of Dementia in the early stage.


Age is a major risk factor for Dementia. People from four states aged between 44 and 66 have participated in a research study by NIH.

The result of this research study says that people with various risk factors, including cardiovascular disease, smoking cigarettes, Diabetes or hypertension, are prone to the risk of Dementia as they age.  

Using excess alcohol 


Excessive alcohol consumption may increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, cancer and damage to the nervous system, including the brain. These damages may lead to loss of memory and Dementia.

Cardiovascular risks 

Cardiovascular diseases are a group of health conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. Alzheimer’s Research UK states that cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure is also risk factor for Dementia.

Alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet and excessive tobacco use will increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases leading to the risk of Dementia. So consuming healthy foods are good for brain health.

Unhealthy diet 

Eating an unhealthy diet (sugary foods, processed meats, potatoes, alcohol and refined grains) can lead to Alzheimer. This unhealthy diet may also worsen other Alzheimer’s risk factors such as heart disease, Diabetes and obesity.  


According to a study titled “Archives of General Psychiatry” in Harvard Health Publishing, people with depression in late life are prone to a 70% risk of Dementia and people who are depressed in their midlife are prone to an 80% increased risk.   

The origin of Dementia begins in early childhood. Exposure to childhood stress and trauma may be associated with the adverse effects of physical and mental health like Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

In accordance with Arbour Company researchers, chronic stress is a risk factor for Dementia. A study of 1700 elderly individuals with an average age of 77 found an association between depression and Dementia.

Inadequate sleep 

Inadequate sleep-in middle age increases the risk of Dementia. Poor sleep may be due to various reasons, including insomnia, anxiety, pressing deadlines and huge responsibilities.

Inadequate sleep increases the deposition of Alzheimer’s protein and beta-amyloid increases the risk of Dementia in later life. Beta-amyloid is a protein that clumps and clusters together to form Alzheimer’s plaques that result in Dementia due to synapse dysfunction.

The beta-amyloid proteins cluster around the neurons, which interrupts the cell function and causes neuron degeneration. This neuron degeneration triggers an immune response in the affected area. These changes around neurons interrupt the function of the synapse.

Nutritional and vitamin deficiency 

Following a western diet will increase cardiovascular disease risk and contributes to faster brain ageing.

NCBI says that the typical western diet is high in salt and fat and low in fruits and vegetables. Along with fat and salt, foods with excess sugar are the most common food item in the western diet. The study says that nearly 47% of added sugar is present in beverages. Certain western diet foods are listed below.

Refined grains – white flour, white rice and white bread.

Red meat – beef, lamb, mutton, pork and goat.

Added sugars in foods – cakes, candies, cookies and ice cream.

It is believed that the western diet contains low nutrients and vitamins, which causes vitamin and nutrient deficiency in people resulting in Dementia in their midlife.

Head trauma 

NCBI states that the most feared long-term consequence of traumatic brain injury in early or midlife is the increased risk of Dementia in late life. It also reports that 50% of people with head trauma were prone to memory loss with an increased risk of Dementia.


An increased risk of Dementia is associated with smoking. Lancet Commission on Dementia ranked smoking as third Dementia.

A research study on Dementia in Finland found that heavy smokers in midlife will face the risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of Dementia 20 years later. This study also states that mild to heavy smokers will face a high risk of Alzheimer’s disease than light smokers.

The increased risks of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are observed in second-Hand Smokers (SHS) based on their duration and exposure to second-hand smoke.


Certain heart ailments in midlife, including Diabetes, increased blood pressure and smoking cigars, are the associated risk factor of Dementia.

A research paper on Diabetes and Dementia from Harvard Health Publishing gives an intriguing hypothesis which states that Diabetes directly causes Alzheimer’s Disease. This condition is called ‘type 3 diabetes’ because both Diabetes and Alzheimer’s have common molecular and cellular features.

The research further states that insulin resistance causes Diabetes and the amyloid cluster formation around neurons. In simple, insulin resistance in the body causes type 2 diabetes, whereas insulin resistance in the brain causes Alzheimer’s disease (a form of Dementia).

Diagnosis of Dementia 

Dementia can be diagnosed primarily with a physical examination. If the assessment is inconclusive, neuropsychological testing can help with diagnosing the presence of a stroke.

Brain neuroimaging may demonstrate structural changes including, but not limited to, tumours and other ailments in the brain. These ailments may not be identified in the physical examination.

Treatment of Dementia

Patients with Dementia are treated with non-pharmacologic approaches like cognitive engaging activities such as reading, physical exercise and socialisation.

People with mild to severe Dementia are treated with acetylcholinesterase (AChE). People with moderate to severe Dementia are treated with memantine (used alone or as an add-on therapy).

The causes of Dementia can be diagnosed by medical history and cognitive and physical examination, whereas the treatment must include both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic approaches.

Prevention of Dementia 

Control your high blood pressure  

Medications will treat high blood pressure, reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and improve symptoms of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

NIA claims that the recent SPRINT MIND trial showed that lowering high blood pressure decreased the risk of mild cognitive impairment and Dementia.  

Check your blood sugar levels 

High blood sugar levels contribute to several potential mechanisms, including chronic and acute hyperglycemia and insulin resistance, increasing the risk of Dementia.

Harvard medical school reports that high levels of blood sugar control may also lead to hypoglycaemia, memory loss and Dementia. The reason is that low blood sugars damage the hippocampus (the brain’s memory centre).

So, a limited sugar intake will help maintain blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of Dementia.

Maintain a healthy weight 

Maintaining a healthy weight will help decrease the risk of Dementia. NCBI states that healthy weight loss can be achieved with a limited calorie intake of 1200-1500 for women and 1500-1800 for men daily.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Agriculture (USDA) have released dietary guidelines for 2015 to 2020. These guidelines encourage a diet rich in nutrients and limited calorie intake of saturated and trans fats, added sugar and sodium.

Eat a healthy diet 


Eating healthy foods will reduce the risk of Dementia. The National Institute of Ageing (NIA) claims that following a MIND (Mediterranean DASH intervention for the neurodegenerative delay) diet.

This diet incorporates a DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet, which reduces high blood pressure, the risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of Dementia.

The MIND diet encourages eating the following foods for good health.

Leafy greens

Other vegetables


Whole grains





Olive oil

Regular exercise 

As per the research study of NCBI, regular exercise is considered a potential lifestyle intervention to help reduce the occurrence of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Exercising for 6-8 weeks showed a notable reduction in the risk of Dementia development.

Mentally active 

A person’s mood and mental health will affect every aspect of life. Harvard medical school also states that there is a link between physical and mental health. If either health gets affected, it may contribute to digestive disorders, lack of energy, trouble sleeping, heart disease and other health issues.

To improve mental health, the following tips are to be incorporated in the daily life of people.


Healthy eating



Stay close to your friends and family 

People with Dementia should continue their hobbies and interests without any constraint. If you have a friend or a relative with Dementia, offer your help by including them in social activities and events.

Spending much time with loved ones and participating in meaningful activities can have a positive effect on people with Dementia, even though they do not remember that event itself.

Ensure to treat hearing problems 

According to the journal of the American Medical Association in NCBI, age-related hearing loss may contribute to the risk of Dementia in older adults. 

Its longitudinal studies in older adults have demonstrated that hearing loss is independently associated with 30-40% of developing cognitive decline and increased risk of Dementia.

So, treating hearing problems in the early stages will reduce the risk of Dementia.

Get adequate sleep 


Beta-amyloid is produced and accumulated in the brain cells when a person is awake. It comes in several molecular forms that collect between neurons. These proteins are formed from a large protein (amyloid precursor protein) breakdown.

When a person sleeps, the brain cells and their connections generally shrink. As this shrink allows more space between the brain cells, the accumulated beta-amyloid and other substances are flushed away. 

The result of this study is that if a person does not get enough sleep, their brain will not get sufficient time to flush away beta-amyloid and other substances. These substances may accumulate day by day and cause Dementia by disrupting the function of neurons.

Avoid alcohol and smoking 

Alcohol and smoking are considered modifiable risk factors for Dementia. Controlled use of alcohol and restricted smoking will help reduce the risk of Dementia in people with or without stroke.

Decreased use of these two things will also help prevent other ailments like vascular risks, Diabetes and hypertension.


There is no proven treatment to cure Dementia, but the severity of symptoms can be reduced by treating underlying diseases like Alzheimer. And the clinical research focuses on discovering cures for Dementia-causing diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal Dementia. 


How to stop Dementia from progressing?

The following list will help stop Dementia from progressing.
1. Reduce alcohol consumption
2. Avoid smoking
3. Eat healthy foods.

What slows down Dementia? 

The following methods can slow down Dementia.
1. Eating a balanced diet
2. Regular exercise
3. Maintain a healthy weight.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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