According to the Brain test review, dementia is an umbrella term for various neurodegenerative diseases. The common factor between such disorders is the progressive loss of memory and cognitive impairments.
WHO reported that dementia affects 50 million people all over the world, predominantly older adults. Research shows that more women than men develop Alzheimer’s disease — a type of dementia.
Various factors – most of them beyond our control – have been linked to the development of dementia in an individual. For instance, age-related memory loss is a reality.
However, fitness is one of the factors that are under our control! The good news is that research reports that fitness can keep dementia at bay.
So, how can you stay fit? What should you know about dementia and fitness? Below, we have gathered the five important details that you should be aware of:
A person can reduce the risk of developing dementia by making certain lifestyle changes. This means that the onset of dementia may be slowed down if we are willing to change.
A University of Southern California review found that at least 1 in every three cases of Alzheimer’s disease was preventable if the individuals in question could make some lifestyle changes.
Physical exercise and dementia
One such change is ensuring that we get regular physical exercise. According to the results of this Swedish University of Gothenburg study, the risk of dementia diagnosis in women could potentially drop by 90 percent if they were to exercise regularly! Even when compared with other women who were moderately fit, the magnitude of risk decreased dramatically.
The study involved almost 200 women in their late middle ages. They passed a bicycle exercise test and were assessed on how quickly they became physically exhausted, i.e., their peak cardiovascular capacity.
About 40 of them were found to be highly physically fit while 59 women had low levels of fitness. Out of the latter group, some had to be excused from exercising due to cardiovascular problems.
Almost 50 percent of the ones excused went on to develop dementia! Do we really need more proof of the effectiveness of exercise?
Aerobic exercise could help prevent dementia
You may have heard of various types of exercises and their effectiveness in keeping one fit. This raises some important questions:
If exercise keeps dementia away, would any type of exercise do?
Is there a type that is considered the most efficient in terms of slowing down dementia?
Do we know which one it is?
The answers to those question are no, yes, and yes! Research on the cognitive function in elderly adults guided us to the right solution in this case.
The participants who engaged only in aerobic exercise displayed cognitive function almost three times better than that of other seniors!
It was also seen that exercise improved the cognitive function in seniors as compared to those who didn’t exercise. The latter began to show a slight cognitive decline.
To sum it up, among the different kinds, aerobic exercise had the most favorable effect on the individuals who participated in the study.
Mental exercise is equally important
Lifestyle changes aren’t just limited to our physical health. They are also concerned with mental health. Just as our bodies thrive when provided with regular physical exercise, so do our brains when they receive mental training.
A study from the Alzheimer & Dementia Translational Research and Clinical Interventions journal showed that a specific kind of mental exercise might reduce the chances of developing dementia!
Additionally, the scientists associated with this study postulated that our brains use a different memory system to operate mental training. This system is different from the one we use for conscious learning, i.e., the explicit system.
We use the procedural system when we engage in mental exercise. It could be that very system that holds the key to unlocking the secrets of dementia!
According to the researchers, regardless of how we choose to exercise our brains, it is important that we have fun while at it. Any mental training that makes us feel nervous or leaves us depressed does more harm than good!
Food – the other side of fitness
If fitness were an equation, food would be an important part of it. Here are some foods that should be – and shouldn’t be – a part of our daily diets if we want to stay fit:
Leafy greens are high in B9 and folate. Both these nutrients reduce depression and improve cognition. So, load up on spinach, kale, mustard greens, and collard.
Limit your salt intake to just a leveled teaspoon of salt, if you really care about your health. Salt-laden foods consumed regularly may put us at increased risk of developing vascular dementia!
Surprisingly, we consume three-quarters of the salt from the processed foods that we eat. This includes condiments, bread, soups, and breakfast cereals. Why not opt for something healthier than breakfast on the go?
Beans and legumes
Like the leafy greens, beans, and legumes are also rich in folate. Besides that, they contribute other nutrients to our daily diets, such as iron, magnesium, and potassium. They are also rich in a vitamin known as choline, which boosts acetylcholine production, and improves brain function.
Beets, pumpkin, tomatoes, squash, carrots, and asparagus are all laden with vitamin A, folate, and iron. All these micronutrients help improve cognition. Stir-fry them or make a salad out of these vegetables!
Omega 3 and oily fish
It is imperative for the maintenance of health and proper functioning of our brains that they get their supply of omega 3’s essential fatty acids. These nutrients are part of the brain cells themselves!
The OPAL or Older People And n-3 Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid study reported that we could keep the levels of the essential fatty acids up by eating oily fish.
This helps maintain the state of cognitive function as we age. So, head over to the supermarket to get your fish fillets right away!
Slowing down the symptoms of dementia and preventing it all together requires some lifestyle changes. We can alter our lives and become fitter by making healthy decisions, eating a balanced diet, and getting exercise. So, are you ready for some changes?