The numbers of people living with dementia doubles every year. As we live longer we expect our bodies to age, but dementia is not a normal part of ageing. It affects the ability to perform every day activities by reducing the capacity of the brain for memory, thinking and normal behaviour. It is the most common cause of transition into residential aged care.
What can we do to prevent dementia?
- B vitamins – Low levels of folic acid and Vitamin B12 are associated with dementia. Studies show that supplementing these vitamins slows down the loss of brain size as well as cognitive function.
- Reduce inflammation – Research shows that inflammation in the brain contributes to dementia. Anti-inflammatory nutrients include turmeric, vitamins A and E and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. The main components of an anti inflammatory diet are an abundance of vegetables and fruit, and fish.
- Eat a diet rich in anti oxidants – As the brain ages it undergoes wear and tear in what is called oxidative stress. Antioxidants in our foods actually protect the brain from this damage. This is most likely the reason that a daily dose of cocoa reduces the loss of nerves in the brain, and slows the decline in dementia.
- Lose weight (if needed). Mid life obesity, especially central obesity ie fat around the waist,is associated with an increased risk of dementia.
- Regular exercise reduces the incidence of dementia by half compared to people who don’t exercise at all.
- Mediterranean diet – This diet consists of predominantly plant food (ie vegetables, fruits, legumes and wholegrains), olive oil as the main source of fat, with moderate amounts of fish and only small amounts of other meats. 1-2 glasses of wine are included on most days. This diet has been associated with a lower risk of developing dementia.
- Brain stimulating leisure activities such as reading, board and card games, playing musical instruments and dancing are associated with a reduced risk of dementia.
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