Home LanguageEnglish Healthy Aging! Don’t let Bad Habits Put You at High Risk for Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Healthy Aging! Don’t let Bad Habits Put You at High Risk for Dementia and Alzheimer’s

by Amélie Poulain
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A new study published in The BMJ shows that the main cause of life expectancy and disease is unhealthy living habits. Experiments have found that poor eating habits, insufficient cognitive activity and moderate-intensity physical activity, and bad habits such as smoking or excessive drinking can increase the risk of dementia and reduce life expectancy.


By developing good habits, you can live a long and healthy life.
(Photo via pexels.com)

Taipei, TAIWAN (Merxwire) – New research published in The BMJ shows that increased life expectancy is not the main cause of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and the diseases of old age. The main reason that affects longevity and disease in old age is bad living habits. Experiments have found that poor daily eating habits, insufficient cognitive activity and moderate-intensity physical activity, and bad habits such as smoking or excessive drinking will increase the risk of dementia and reduce the average life expectancy.

The research was “The Chicago Health and Aging Project” led by Rush University Medical Center in the United States, and the research object was the elderly over 65 years old of different genders, races, and educational levels. The research started in 1993 to the completion of the cases in 2012, nearly 2,500 valid samples were collected. Mainly to explore the impact of the following five health indicators on the risk of dementia.

Five Lifestyle Habits that Brought Risk of Dementia

  1. Eating habits: The MIND Diet assessment scale was used to investigate the dietary habits of the subjects. Those who fully conformed to them were awarded full marks. The top 40 percent of the overall subjects were classified as healthy eaters. The “MIND Diet” recommends eating whole grains, nuts, berries, legumes, multi-colored vegetables, white meat, and fish. The oil suggested is mainly cold-pressed olive oil. Foods rich in vitamin E, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and flavonoids support brain health, reduce the risk of dementia, and reduce intake of refined sugar and alcohol.
  2. Cognitive Activity: The questionnaire mainly investigates the frequency of subjects engaged in seven cognitive activities of reading, visiting museums, playing poker, word puzzles, puzzles, and chess. The higher the activity frequency, the higher the score, and the top 40 percent of all subjects in the score are people with healthy cognitive activity habits. Studies have found that the aforementioned cognitive activities can help stimulate the brain, strengthen the cognitive ability and prevent memory loss.
  3. Moderate and high-intensity physical activity: Time spent biking, swimming, walking, weight training, gardening, or calisthenics in the past year was measured using the items listed in the 1985 American Health Survey. In addition, according to the health guidelines announced by WHO, American Heart Association, and other index organizations, adults need to perform moderate and high physical activity for more than 150 minutes a week as a health standard. The research showed that the higher the frequency of exercise, the lower the risk of developing dementia.
  4. Smoking: The subjects were asked to answer the frequency of their smoking. There were three options: no smoking, who had smoked but quit smoking, and having a smoking habit. Non-smokers and ex-smokers were rated as those with healthy living habits.
  5. Alcohol consumption: Ask subjects to answer their daily alcohol consumption. It is considered a healthy habit to drink less than 30 grams of alcohol per day for men and 15 grams for women. According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people who drink less alcohol are less likely to develop dementia.

After the subjects are assessed by the questionnaire, they can get 1 point if they reach the health standard of the item. The total score ranges from 0 to 5, and people with higher scores represented having healthier living habits.

Healthy eating habits are an important first step in preventing dementia.
(Photo via unsplash.com)

During the nearly 20-year research period, subjects were required to undergo a cognitive function test every 3 years to assess whether they had functional deterioration or suffered from dementia. The tested parts included their attention, observation, memory, and language skills. and sense of direction. Following the study, 339 of the 2,449 active subjects were found to have dementia.

In-depth exploration of the health index scores of people with dementia. From the perspective of 65-year-old subjects, if the health index score is 4 to 5 points, the average life expectancy of men is 23.1 years, and the average time of suffering from dementia is 1.4 years, about 6.1% of the remaining lifetime. The average life expectancy of women is 24.2 years, and the time of developing dementia is about 2.6 years, accounting for about 10.8% of the remaining lifetime. Conversely, for those with a health index of 0 to 1, the average life expectancy of men and women was 17.4 years and 21.1 years, and the average time of developing dementia was 2.1 years and 4.1 years, accounting for about 12% and 19.3% of the remaining lives. It can be seen that people with better health habits have a longer average life expectancy, a shorter time to suffer from dementia, and a lower proportion of dementia time in their remaining life.

This inference is more pronounced in older people. From the perspective of 85-year-old female subjects, women with better health habits have an average remaining life of 8.5 years, and the average time of suffering from dementia is 2.6 years, accounting for about 30.6% of the remaining life. Women with health indicators score 0~1 their average remaining life is 7.2 years, and the average time of suffering from dementia is 4.4 years, accounting for about 61% of the remaining life. The difference in the proportion of males is more pronounced. A healthy 85-year-old male suffers from dementia for about 17.7% of the average remaining life, while those with a less healthy lifestyle account for 46% of the remaining life.

It can be seen from the statistics that women live longer on average than men, have a higher chance of suffering from dementia, and suffer from dementia for a longer time on average, accounting for a higher proportion of their remaining lives. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain good living habits to live a long and healthy life and reduce the entanglement of illness.

Based on statistics women live longer on average than men, have a higher chance of suffering from dementia, and suffer from dementia for a longer time. (Photo via unsplash.com)

Preventing Alzheimer’s Starts with Everyday Life

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in recent years, mainly due to damage to nerve cells in the brain, resulting in the deterioration of memory and cognitive function. Scientists have summarized 378 relevant research reports to find ways that can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The following 10 are considered to be the most effective, most of which are related to lifestyle habits and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Because of scientific evidence, it can be regarded as a standard for daily life. This research has been published in “Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry”.

  • Maintain healthy blood sugar and weight to avoid diabetes.
  • Body mass index (BMI) maintained below 25.
  • Learn and receive more education at a young age to activate the brain.
  • Try to avoid head injuries or strong hits, such as concussions.
  • Maintain cognitive abilities through activities such as study, reading, word puzzles, or puzzles.
  • Find ways to manage your emotions and reduce depression.
  • Learn to relieve undue stress, and control cortisol levels.
  • If you feel dizzy when you stand up from a sitting position, check for symptoms of postural hypotension.
  • Maintaining healthy blood pressure in middle age.
  • Avoid high levels of “homocysteine” in the blood to reduce the chance of arteriosclerosis, cerebral infarction, or myocardial infarction.

In the part of the daily diet, it is recommended to use 8 types of food sources: vegetables, berries, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, fish, beans, and chicken as the main food sources to help maintain intestinal health, reduce inflammation in the body, reduce brain aging, prevent cardiovascular disease, reduce the risk of vascular dementia and maintain neurological development.

According to Dr. Richard Isaacson, a neurologist and director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Institute at Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University, mentioned that at least one in three people with Alzheimer’s disease could prevent disease by reducing risk factors in their lives. Therefore, regardless of age and gender, the sooner you start to pay attention to these trivial things in life and develop good health habits, you can live a healthy life and make the life of the elderly more quality.

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