The 5 step lifestyle plan to prevent dementia – and help you lose weight too
FOLLOWING a Mediterranean diet and limiting the booze may help to prevent millions of Brits from developing dementia, experts claim.
Forget the brain training – loading up on fruit, veg, fish and nuts and exercising regularly are far more effective at slashing the risk than taking supplements or pills.
Scientists from the World Health Organisation say that up to a third of dementia cases could be prevented or slowed down with lifestyle tweaks.
And they largely include following a Med-style way of eating – which has also been linked to improving heart health and weight loss.
The WHO report says: “While age is the strongest known risk factor for cognitive decline, dementia is not a natural or inevitable consequence of ageing.
“Several recent studies have shown a relationship between the development of cognitive impairment and dementia with lifestyle-related risk factors.
Food is better than supplements
“The existence of potentially modifiable risk factors means that prevention of dementia is possible.”
Taking supplements containing fish oil and vitamins B and E also fail to slash the risk of dementia, the experts warn.
People should eat food containing these nutrients instead.
And the report also found that there’s no evidence that brain training or socialising can help keep the brain dementia-free.
Around 850,000 people have dementia in the UK and this is expected to rise to more than 1 million by 2025 and 2 million by 2051.
It is now the leading cause of death in the country but surveys reveal only 34 per cent of adults know they can reduce their risk.
One in three cases are preventable
British charities welcomed the guidelines, which they say could prevent one in three cases and slow its progress in others.
But some people have a high genetic risk of dementia and are still more likely to develop it even if they lead healthy lives.
Fiona Carragher, from the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It’s estimated a third of dementia cases could be prevented, and this report provides the best available prevention advice.”
Dr Carol Routledge, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Sadly, there will always be individuals who address many or all of these risk factors and still develop dementia.
“And while we cannot change the genes we inherit, taking the steps outlined in this report can still help to stack the odds in our favour.”
A cure is still 'decades' away
She added: “This valuable resource, which has been reviewed and developed by leading experts based on high-quality evidence, represents the best possible source of information.
“We now need to see these recommendations shared through NHS Health Checks in midlife, as well as through government-led risk reduction campaigns to reach as many people as possible.”
Prof Robert Howard, from University College London, said: “Like many colleagues, I already tell my patients that what is good for their hearts is probably good for their brains.
“We are probably decades away from treatments to slow or stop established dementia.
Prevention would be so much better than a distant cure.”
Dementia costs the UK more than £26billion a year in health and social care.
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