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Five lifestyle factors 'can reduce Alzheimer's risk'

Five lifestyle factors 'can reduce Alzheimer's risk'
15th December 2014

Adopting a healthy lifestyle could reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's by as much as a third, a new study has revealed.

According to charity AgeUK, lifestyle is responsible for up to 76 per cent of changes in the ageing of the brain and undertaking five actions could significantly reduce the probability of contracting the condition.

Regular physical exercise, eating a Mediterranean diet, not smoking, drinking in moderation and preventing diabetes have been identified as the key lifestyle factors contributing to a healthier brain.

The charity compiled the list after an analysis of several major studies into Alzheimer's was conducted by researchers at the University of Edinburgh.

According to one large study carried out over 30 years, men aged between 45 and 59 who followed four to five of the identified lifestyle factors were found to have a 36 per cent lower risk of developing cognitive decline and a 36 per cent lower risk of developing dementia than those who did not.

While heavy drinking was linked to dementia due to the destruction of brain tissue, particularly in parts of the brain responsible for memory and processing, moderate alcohol consumption was found to protect brain tissue by boosting "good" cholesterol and reducing the "bad" variety.

Exercising three to five times a week for between 30 minutes to an hour is beneficial, the studies suggest.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said that while there is currently no cure for the condition, there are a number of simple and effective ways to reducing the risk of developing it.

"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," she added.

"The sooner we start, the better our chance of having a healthy later life."

According to the latest estimates, about 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia, which will affect one in three people over the age of 65.

Find out more about Alzheimer's disease care at Barchester homes