Nine Lifestyle Changes Can Reduce Dementia Risk, Study Says

Researchers have found nine lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce your dementia risk. According to the Lancet, the cumulative impact of these changes can reduce your of suffering dementia by 35 percent. 

Of these nine factors, mid-life hearing loss has the largest impact and increases your dementia risk 9 percent and lack of a secondary level degree also has a significant impact. Smoking, untreated depression, physical inactivity, isolation, high blood pressure, obesity and type 2 diabetes round out the list. 

"Dementia" is an umbrella term covering an array of neurological diseases and conditions that develop when neurons in your brain die or cease to function normally. The death or malfunction of neurons causes changes in memory, behavior and ability to think.

Alzheimer's disease, which is the most serious form of dementia, eventually leads to the inability to carry out even the most basic of bodily functions, such as swallowing or walking. Alzheimer's is ultimately fatal, as conventional treatment options are few and limited in effectiveness.

Disturbingly, Alzheimer's has reached epidemic proportions, currently affecting an estimated 5.4 million Americans. In the next 20 years it is projected that Alzheimer's will affect 1 in 4 Americans, rivaling the current prevalence of obesity and diabetes and by 2050, Alzheimer's diagnoses are projected to triple. Already, more than half a million Americans die from the disease each year, making it the third leading cause of death in the U.S., right behind heart disease and cancer. Considering there's no known cure and so few treatments, prevention is key.

The Lancet list of factors includes some very important lifestyle factors but fails to consider the environmental factors behind the Alzheimer’s epidemic. Vitamin D deficiency, air pollution and occupational pesticide exposure are huge contributors to the Alzheimer’s surge. Living close to power lines also has "limited yet robust" evidence suggesting it may influence your susceptibility to dementia.

It is possible to protect your brain and keeping sugar consumption to a minimum is a great starting point. Instead, you should eat a diet rich in healthy fats. Healthy fats to add to your diet include avocados, butter made from raw, grass-fed organic milk, organic pastured egg yolks, MCT oil, coconuts and coconut oil (coconut oil, and to an even greater degree MCT oil, show particular promise against Alzheimer's) and raw nuts such as pecans and macadamia, both of which have a near-ideal ratio of protein and healthy fats.

Rejuvenating sleep is necessary for maintaining metabolic homeostasis in your brain. Wakefulness is associated with mitochondrial stress; without sufficient sleep, neuron degeneration sets in. While sleep problems are common in Alzheimer's patients, poor sleep may also be contributing to the disease by driving the buildup of amyloid plaques in your brain.

Research shows that your blood-brain barrier is negatively affected by gluten. Gluten also makes your gut more permeable, which allows proteins to get into your bloodstream where they sensitize your immune system and promote inflammation and autoimmunity, both of which play a role in the development of Alzheimer's. Make sure you boost your gut health with fermented foods, optimize your vitamin D levels, and increase your intake of animal based omega-3 fats. Exercise and challenging your mind daily may also make you less susceptible to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.