Dementia is a condition whereby we experience a decline in cognitive function and our general brain abilities. Symptoms can include a loss of memory, thinking speed, mental agility, judgement, language and understanding. With those changes, there is sometimes a gradual loss of interest in life, experiencing hallucinations, a loss of independence as well as the ability and interest in socialising.
Globally, the number of people living with Dementia is on the increase from 46.8 million back in 2015 to 131.5 million predicted in 2050, resulting in a 281% increase. In the UK, there are currently 850, 000 people estimated to be living with Dementia. As expected, these numbers are also predicted to rise.
So although we know a person’s risk of developing Dementia rises from 1 in 14 over the age of 65, to 1 in 6 over the age of 80, we should look into factors which contribute to Dementia and what can we do to help possibly prevent its onset?
Most cases of Dementia are associated with increasing age and can be caused by physical brain disease with complex causes. Latest research also shows that our lifestyle, our genes, and medical history all contribute to the risk of Dementia. About a third of a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease may be due to modifiable lifestyle factors according to reports from the University of Cambridge.
Factors that may help reduce our risk of developing Dementia
Smoking and Alcohol. Alcohol in large amounts can affect the health of our brain cells and the communication between these. Heavy drinking as well as smoking should be avoided.
Obesity-The lack of physical activity accounts for the largest proportion of Alzheimer’s cases in the UK, Europe and in the UK. So aim to move as often as possible even if it is for short bursts of time. Aiming for that target of 10, 000 steps and more on a daily basis using your phone or other fantastic tools we now have to track. Start slowly but keep up the good work for the long term. Exercising with friends has shown to be useful, especially when the motivation is low and will help keep the activity fun and sociable. Physical activity in whichever way you go about it, will help to also keep the other risk factors at bay. (ie. blood pressure and diabetes). The aim is to achieve 30 minutes of moderate activity at least 5 times a week and 2 sessions of muscle strengthening per week.
Exercise to help lose weight or maintain a stable weight will reduce your risk of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. It will also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and vascular dementia in particular.
Blood pressure & Diabetes: Must be kept under control as they are associated with a higher risk of dementia.
Dietary habits: We know that eating healthily contributes to a healthy heart and a healthy mind. Research shows that switching to a Mediterranean type of diet, may help to reduce the risk of developing Dementia! In other words, eating plenty of nuts, seeds, avocado, oily fish and white fish, olive oil and plenty of antioxidants derived from colourful fruits and vegetables.
Fats-Swapping your types of fats from saturated and trans-fats to an intake of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats is associated with a lower risk of developing dementia. (Morris, 2004). Replace deep fried food; processed foods which can contain trans-fats and cut down on the saturated fats like butter and ghee. Replace all these with organic coconut oil for any cooking involving high heat, and olive oil, hempseed oil, flaxseed oil and other cold pressed organic oils for drizzling on food. Nutiva’s and Organic Traditions products offer a wide range to choose from.
Omega 3 fatty acids in the form of DHA, help to maintain normal brain function with a daily consumption of at least 250 mg (EU nutrition and health claims, 2015). A delicious serving of salmon fillet can provide you with up to 240mg, vary your sources and you will easily get there. If you struggle, supplements can also help you to top up your levels. Examples include Nature’s Answer Omega 3 or Barlean’s Omega Swirls for the whole family
Vitamins: Include food sources of Vitamin C and E as these helps to protect our body cells from oxidative stress and keep them healthy. Oxidative stress is the result of an imbalance between the production of harmful unstable molecules, called free radicals, and the body’s ability to counteract those. It can be caused by stress, medication, our diet and the environmental pollution amongst other things. It is therefore important to include plenty of those nutrient dense foods, also termed as ‘antioxidants’ in the diet, to counteract those harmful effects. Vitamin C food sources also help to support the normal functioning of the nervous system. (EU nutrition and health Claims, 2015). Antioxidant levels are also very high in Matcha green tea, Purple corn, Acai berry, Maqui berry, Purple cabbage amongst others. Browse our selection of Organic Traditions superfruits, and superfruit powders. You can also try 1 scoop of Amazing Grass Green Superfood ORAC, which provides 15, 000 ORAC units in a bursting berry flavour along with a boost of nutrients supporting the body’s natural defences. ORAC is simply a measure of antioxidant potency
Herbs: Although health claims still need to be approved by the EU Commission, ancient ayurvedic remedies and several studies categorise the following as nerve tonics; Gingko Biloba as well as Gotu Kola. Nature’s Answer liquid herbal extracts containing those may help to enhance memory and mental alertness by improving cerebral circulation as well as acting as ‘antioxidants’
Encouraging each other to keep up with mental stimulating activities as we age: Whether you look into crosswords, a game of scrabble, chess or simply reading involves the mind’s ability to challenge itself. Learning a new language, activity and making sure to sleep a good amount of hours daily helps to stimulate and support brain health.
* Alzheimer’s Research UK: http://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/research-projects/high-blood-pressure-contribute-alzheimers-disease/
* EU Nutrition and Health Claims (2015)
* Morris, M.C.(2004).Diet and Alzheimer’s Disease: What the Evidence Shows. Available at: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/466037
* Prince, M. et al. (2015).World Alzheimer’s Report 2015 . The Global Impact Of Dementia: An analysis of prevalence, incidence, costs and trends. Alzheimer’s Disease International. Available at https://www.alz.co.uk/research/world-report-2015
* Solomon et al. (2014) Advances in the prevention and detection of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. J Intern Med; 275(3): 229–250. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4390027/
* The European Dementia Prevention Initiative: http://www.edpi.org/