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5 Healthy Steps to Lower Your Odds for Alzheimer's

WEDNESDAY, June 17, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- A combination of healthy habits -- such as a good diet and regular exercise -- may lower your risk of Alzheimer's disease by as much as 60%, a new study suggests.

Data from nearly 3,000 people in the United States was scored on five beneficial lifestyle factors: high-quality diet, physical activity, not smoking, brain-challenging activities, and light-to-moderate alcohol consumption.

Compared to people with none or just one of the healthy lifestyle factors, the risk of Alzheimer's was 37% lower in those with two to three, and 60% lower in those with four to five healthy lifestyle factors.

The study, which was funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA), was published online June 17 in the journal Neurology.

"This observational study provides more evidence on how a combination of modifiable behaviors may mitigate Alzheimer's disease risk," NIA director Dr. Richard Hodes said in an institute news release.

"The findings strengthen the association between healthy behaviors and lower risk," according to Hodes. They also support the value of controlled clinical trials to directly test the ability of interventions to slow or prevent development of Alzheimer's disease, he noted.

Dallas Anderson is program director of the neuroscience division at the NIA. "This population-based study helps paint the picture of how multiple factors are likely playing parts in Alzheimer's disease risk," he said.

"It's not a clear cause-and-effect result, but a strong finding," Anderson explained.

Here's more on the five healthy lifestyle factors that could help your brain:

  • Exercise your body. Get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity. The NIA suggests talking to your doctor about the best ways to keep active.

  • Quit smoking. Research shows that even in people 60 or older who have smoked for decades, quitting improves health, according to the NIA.

  • Limit your alcohol consumption. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, moderate drinking is up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

  • Mind what you eat. The NIA says there are benefits to sticking to the MIND diet -- a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. This focuses on plant-based foods associated with dementia prevention.

  • Give your brain a workout. Stay intellectually engaged by keeping your mind active. Try reading, playing games, taking a class or learning a new skill or hobby.

More information

The Alzheimer's Association has more on Alzheimer's prevention.

SOURCE: U.S. National Institute on Aging, news release, June 17, 2020

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