"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Lifestyle changes can reduce the danger of dementia by maintaining brain plasticity—but now’s the time to act.

Walk 10,000 steps a day, cut down on alcohol, get a greater night's sleep, be more socially energetic—we're told these sorts of changes can occur. Prevents up to 40% of dementia cases worldwide..

Given that dementia remains to be considered one of them. The most dreaded diseasesWhy aren't we pushing our doctors and governments to support these lifestyle changes through latest programs and policy initiatives?

The reality, nonetheless, is more complicated. We know that making lifestyle changes is difficult. Ask anyone who's tried to maintain their New Year's resolution to hit the gym thrice per week. It may be doubly difficult when the changes we'd like to make now won't show results for years, and even a long time, and we don't really understand why they work.

Take control of your health

Anyone who has seen a loved one. Living with DementiaYoung and old face indignities and decay that leaves them unable to eat, communicate or remember, knowing that this can be a devastating disease.

Actor Chris Hemsworth attends the premiere of National Geographic's original series 'Limitless with Chris Hemsworth' in New York on November 15, 2022. While filming the series, Hemsworth discovered he could also be at an increased genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease.
(Photo by Andy Krupa/Invision/AP)

There is Many new drugs Going to marketplace for Alzheimer's disease (probably the most common types of dementia). However, they're still removed from a cure and are currently only effective for early-stage Alzheimer's patients.

So lifestyle changes could also be our greatest hope for delaying dementia or not developing dementia in any respect. Actor Chris Hemsworth He knows he watched his grandfather live with Alzheimer's and is making lifestyle changes after learning he has two copies of the APOE4 gene. This Jain is a risk factor for Alzheimer's, and having two copies significantly increases the danger of developing the condition.

Research has identified. Modifiable risk factors Which contributes to an increased risk of dementia:

  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • less sleep
  • Stay away from people
  • Hearing loss
  • Low cognitive engagement
  • Bad food
  • High blood pressure
  • obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • smoking
  • Mental stress
  • Air pollution

Our understanding of the biological mechanisms for these risk aspects varies, with some being more clearly understood than others.

But we all know loads more — and here's what you could know, too.

Cognitive reserve and neuroplasticity

Two old men on a park bench, one tired of listening to the other.
As an individual's hearing declines, it will probably make it difficult to have interaction socially with others, leading to a lack of sensory input. The brain has to work harder to compensate.

Cognitive reserve Ability to face up to brain damage or neurodegenerative disease. If there's tissue or functional damage in a single a part of the brain, other brain cells (neurons) work harder to compensate. In theory, which means a lifetime of experiences and activities create a dam within the brain against the damage of disease and aging.

Neuroplasticity The brain has an incredible ability to adapt, learn and reorganize, creating latest pathways or rebuilding existing pathways to recuperate from damage. The essential point is that neuroplasticity can occur at any time and at any age, which implies that learning and activities should be lifelong.

Many of the danger aspects related to dementia likely work together, which is why a holistic lifestyle approach is significant. For example, The study is shown This exercise, cognitive and social engagement stimulates your brain and maintains its plasticity by growing latest neural connections and constructing cognitive stores.

The mechanism behind this can be a combination of things: increased oxygen and blood flow to the brain, growth aspects that keep neurons healthy and reduced inflammation.

The opposite can also be true. Poor sleep, weight loss plan, social isolation and untreated depression are linked. Decline in cognitive reserves.

The same argument applies to hearing loss, which is a crucial emerging risk factor for dementia. As an individual's hearing declines, it will probably make it difficult to have interaction socially with others, leading to a lack of sensory input. gave The brain has to work harder. To compensate, possibly reducing his cognitive repertoire and leaving him vulnerable to dementia.

The role of stress and inflammation

Illustration of hand drawing a brain with multi-colored chalk on a blackboard
Chronic or prolonged inflammation disrupts normal function and damages brain cells.

Stress responses and inflammation are the body's complex response to injury. Inflammation is a crucial component of the body's immune system, which helps defend against threats and repair tissue damage. While short-term inflammation is a natural and healthy response, chronic or prolonged inflammation disrupts normal function and damages brain cells.

For example, considered one of the commonalities between dementia and untreated depression is Inflammatory processes. Prolonged exposure to emphasize hormones can result in chronic inflammation. High blood pressure, physical inactivity, smoking and air pollution are also linked to chronic inflammation and stress that may damage blood vessels and neurons within the brain.

A brand new area of ​​research still being explored, Stay away from people has also been Associated with inflammation. As we learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the brain is wired to answer social engagement through bonding and emotional support, especially during times of distress.

With surveys showing greater than One in three Canadians Feeling isolated, lack of social contact and loneliness can trigger the body's stress response and neuroendocrine changes, and prolonged exposure to this inflammatory process can damage the brain.

Similar pathways in multiple diseases

Three women are walking in sports clothes.
Although there are advantages to being physically and socially energetic at any age, some research suggests that the payoff for these advantages could also be greater after age 40 when the body's metabolism slows, risk aspects increase. increases and cognitive reserves change into much more essential to assist protect against cognitive decline. .

Many of those risk aspects, and their biological pathways, intersect in multiple chronic diseases. Collecting evidence of Decades of research Supports the concept of “what's good for your heart is good for your head”.

This implies that making these lifestyle changes not only lowers your risk of dementia, but in addition lowers your risk of diabetes, hypertension and heart problems. It highlights the complex nature of dementia but in addition offers a unified strategy to handle the multiple health concerns that may arise as people age.

It's never too late

A man is sleeping on a bed.
Factors corresponding to not getting enough sleep, poor weight loss plan and lack of social and cognitive engagement can increase the danger of dementia.

It really isn't too late to vary. The human mind and body have a remarkable capability for adaptation and resilience throughout life.

Although there are advantages to being physically and socially energetic at any age, some research suggests These benefits can lead to higher payouts. After the age of 40, when the body's metabolism slows down, risk aspects increase and cognitive reserve becomes much more essential to stop it. Cognitive decline.

If making lifestyle changes means you may watch your child navigate maturity, walk 20 blocks a day to their favorite cafe and stay in their very own home, perhaps walking 10,000 steps a day, changing their weight loss plan and Keeping your friendship network strong is helpful. At worst, you'll be healthier and more independent, with or without dementia. At best, you may avoid dementia and other major illnesses altogether and live your best life.