| Sid Astbury |
LONDON (dpa) – Any one of five simple lifestyle changes could keep your brain healthier for longer.
Not smoking, taking more exercise, losing weight, cutting down on alcohol and eating better food can reduce the risk of dementia by over a third, research shows.
Men aged 45-59 who had a good score on at least four of those five lifestyle factors had a 36 per cent lower risk of developing cognitive decline and a 36 per cent lower risk of developing dementia than those with poor scores, a landmark British study carried out over 30 years found.
Dementia affects one in three people over the age of 65.
The research was commissioned by lobby group Age UK and carried out by Edinburgh University’s Ian Deary.
His research is based on the Scottish Mental Survey, a test that measured the cognitive abilities of every 11-year-old in Scotland in June 1947.
No other country had tested all children of a certain age and none has since – making the data collected hugely valuable to researchers.
Professor Deary tested some of those 70,000 children who were tested in 1947 – now adults in their 70s – and compared the results with profiles of their lifestyle, health, genetics and biology.
Age UK’s Caroline Abrahams described the research as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to understand how cognitive ability changes throughout life and during ageing itself”.
Deary’s work highlighted the importance of physical exercise as the most effective way to ward off cognitive decline in healthy older people and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Abrahams said: “While there’s still no cure or way to reverse dementia, this evidence shows there are simple and effective ways to reduce our risk of developing it to begin with.
“What’s more, the changes that we need to make to keep our brains healthy are already proven to be good for the heart and overall health, so it’s common sense for us all to try to build them into our lives.”