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Brain Health: 12 Ways to Reduce your Risk of Dementia

A recent article from The Lancet, one of the world’s leading medical review journals, highlighted 12 major risk factors for developing dementia. They noted that minimizing these risks could prevent or delay up to 40% of the cases worldwide and that prevention and wellbeing was the goal of dementia care. As NDs, we try and promote preventative medicine every day in our practice. Our goal is to treat the whole person and help them feel their best mentally, physically, and emotionally. Although not all genetic and lifestyle factors can be changed, many of these risk factors can be identified and managed early on with the right care. Have a look to see if you fall into any of these categories and consider booking a consult with one of our NDs to learn more about reducing your risk and optimizing your health.

12 Risk Factors for Dementia & How to Reduce Them

  • High blood pressure – the article noted it’s best to aim for a systolic BP reading of 130mm Hg or less. This can be done through diet, lifestyle, supplements, herbs and medication.
  • Smoking – set a goal to quit smoking as it carries a number of negative health effects with its use. Smoking cessation has been significantly reduced with the use of acupuncture, counselling and hypnotherapy.
  • Excessive alcohol intake – limiting alcohol to less than 21 units per week showed a reduction in risk. Note that 1 unit of alcohol is not equal to one glass, but to 10ml of pure alcohol content. A standard glass of wine has about 2 units, while a bottle of beer has 1.7 and a pint of strong lager/IPA has 3.
  • Obesity – weight loss and management can be a challenge for many. Talk to your doctor about ways to modify your diet and aim to fall into a good BMI based on your body type and height.
  • Diabetes – Type 2 diabetes develops later in life due to poor insulin regulation. Modifying diet and lifestyle factors, as well as supporting insulin resistance with supplements, herbs and medication can significantly improve blood sugar levels and reduce overall risks of cardiovascular disease and dementia.
  • Head injury – this might be hard to completely prevent but be mindful to wear protective gear during physical activity and make sure to check in with your ND about cognitive support using antioxidants and other nutrient therapy after a concussion.
  • Hearing loss – wearing protective hearing equipment to reduce noise and using hearing aids when needed can help reduce hearing loss and lower risk.
  • Air pollution – in-home filters, personal masks and monitoring air quality while outside can be a start to cleaning the air around you.
  • Depression – if you’re not feeling like yourself lately, going through moments of sadness or hopelessness, check in with your provider to help identify any triggers and help support you through diet, counselling, acupuncture, supplements, herbs or medication.
  • Lack of exercise – aim for about 150minutes per week, this can be broken down into 30 minute walks 5 times a day. Consider taking a walk after dinner in the cool breeze of the outdoors or doing a family hike on the weekends.
  • Minimal social contact – call your loved ones, write to an old friend, start a weekly family zoom chat, join a community group. It’s never too late to make new friends and form new companionships.
  • Poor education – tackle inequality with adequate education starting at an early age. For those later in life, stimulate your brains memory and cognition by reading books and working on puzzles or crosswords.

Making small changes can have big impacts. You deserve to feel your best and it all starts with making the right choices for you.

In health and happiness,
Dr. Natalia Ytsma, ND

References:
Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report. Livingston, G et al. The Lancet, July 31 2020. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30367-6

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