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An interesting study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMMA) on July 14 2019.
The study’s aim was to determine how lifestyle choices determine a person’s chance of getting dementia:
The study involved 196,383 participants of European (non-black) ancestry aged at least 60 years who didn’t have dementia when they started the study.
The participants were awarded 0-4 points across the following 4 lifestyle areas:
1. Currently Smoking – 1 point for no, 0 points for yes
2. Physical Activity – 1 point for >= 150 minutes moderate activity/week, >= 75 minutes of vigorous activity/week, combination of both, or moderate activity at least 5 times a week, 0 points for none of the above.
3. Healthy Diet – 1 point for at least 4/7 of the following – >= 3 Servings of Fruit/day, >= 3 servings of veg a day, >= 2 Servings of fish a week, <= 1 serving of processed meat a week, <= 1.5 servings of un-processed red meat a week, >= 3 servings of whole grains a day, <= 1.5 Servings refined grains a
day, 0 points for less than 4 of the above.
4. Alcohol Consumption – 1 point for up to 1 standard drink a day for women and up to 2 standard drinks a day for men. 0 points for more than this.
The scientists carrying out the study then grouped people into 3 categories of lifestyle:
1. Favourable = 3-4 score on above 4 lifestyle factors
2. Intermediate = 2 score on above 4 lifestyle factors
3. Unfavourable = 0-1 score on above 4 lifestyle factors
Based on the above groupings those that were in the “Favourable” grouping had a lower number of actual cases of dementia later in life even if genetic factors hinted at a higher risk. For example of the people who had high genetic risk yet had a Favourable lifestyle there were less % of actual dementia than those with high genetic risk who fell into the Intermediate or unfavourable lifestyle group.
What this study states (based on the figures for non black people) is that lifestyle factors play a part in reducing your risk of developing dementia later in life.
This rings true in my life. My Dad was a heavy drinker, and was overweight and developed vascular dementia later in life and consequently died shortly after from it.
On the other hand his brother who I am assuming shared the same genetic risks, lived a healthy, active life and never smoked or drank to excess. He is still going strong and is as sharp as a tack.
So I want you all to take heart from this that the lifestyle choices you make every day can limit your risk of developing dementia later in life.
There are also studies about to come out on intermittent fasting and calorie restriction which will also shed a light on the part this plays in limiting your dementia risk.