Reducing Your Risk of Dementia

It's one of our most feared diseases, even more so than heart disease or stroke.  The thought of losing your ability to think, reason, remember and undergo personality changes is terrifying not only for the sufferers but for the people who love them.  The fact is there are currently 850, 000 people in the UK with dementia and this is set to rise to over a million by 2025 (statistics from Alzheimer's research UK - The disease often starts slowly and gradually progresses. This doesn't mean you need to panic if you forget where you left your keys or go into a room and forget what you went in there for - we all do that sometimes!!

There are different types of dementia.  By far the most common is Alzheimer's which makes up around 80% of cases.  This is characterised by deposits of beta-amyloid (plaques), a protein and twisted strands of the protein tau (tangles) leading to death of brain cells.  

Around 10% of cases are vascular dementia.  It is caused by blood vessel problems in the brain and often follows a stroke.  There are other types too including Parkinson's disease which my dad started with at the age I am now. The disease was progressive, he struggled with movements, and became a different person - painful to watch.

So what can we do to help prevent dementia.  It is my firm belief that if you look after your cardiovascular health, you will also go a long way to preventing dementia. This keeps blood carrying oxygen and nutrients circulating to your brain.  Exercise is key to this - it lowers cholesterol which can block the arteries supplying the heart and the brain.  It also helps prevent obesity and diabetes which can affect cardiovascular health as well as helping to reduce inflammation and stress.  I believe inflammation underlies many diseases including Alzheimer's.  So try to incorporate some exercise into your day - walking, dare I say power walking or running, yoga, gardening etc.

Also key is a good diet.  Cut out foods that trigger inflammation such as processed food and sugar, and limit saturated fat.  Include plenty of good oils in your diet from nuts, seeds etc Please also see 'Where do vegans get their omega 3s from'-  Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains for fibre and antioxidants, both of which help reduce inflammation.  Studies show that people who eat plenty of fibre in their diet have lower levels of C reactive protein in their blood which is a marker of inflammation. 

Antioxidants neutralise free radicals which damage cells thereby setting up the inflammatory response. 

For other ways to look after your cardiovascular health please see 'Love your heart'-

You might also like  'Beating inflammation with serraenzyme' 

Picture credit-beckybeebooks-You can find her work on Instagram-

Stay sharp 

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