Researchers from Beijing discovered that older adults who integrated more healthy lifestyle choices benefited the most.
A ten-year study reveals that a mix of healthy lifestyle choices, including as eating well, exercising frequently, playing cards, and socialising at least twice a week, may help delay the rate of memory loss and lower the risk of dementia.
A vital daily function, memory progressively deteriorates with age, lowering productivity and quality of life and raising the risk of dementia.
A new study contends that integrating several healthy lifestyle choices – the more the better – is associated with slowing the rate of memory deterioration. Previous research has not provided enough evidence to assess the impact of healthy lifestyle choices on memory trajectory.
In older persons with cognitively normal function, “a combination of positive healthy behaviours is related with a slower rate of memory decline,” stated researchers from Beijing, China’s National Center for Neurological Disorders in the BMJ.
They said, “There was a decreased risk of development to mild cognitive impairment and dementia when various healthy lifestyle choices were practised concurrently.”
In the China Cognition and Aging Study, 29,000 persons over 60 with normal cognitive function were examined.
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Tests were used to examine memory performance at the study’s beginning in 2009, and participants had their APOE gene levels checked, which is the gene with the highest risk of Alzheimer’s disease. After then, the participants were observed for ten years while being periodically evaluated.
Six elements were used to determine a score for a healthy lifestyle: a balanced diet, frequent exercise, engaging in social activities, cognitive activity, quitting smoking, and abstaining from alcohol.
Participants were divided into favourable (four to six healthy factors), medium (two to three healthy factors), or unfavourable (zero to one healthy factors) lifestyle groups as well as into APOE-carrier and non-carrier groups based on their score, which ranged from zero to six.
Consuming at least seven of the 12 food groups—fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, dairy, salt, oil, eggs, cereals, legumes, nuts, and tea—was considered to be part of a healthy diet.
The second category of beneficial behaviour was writing, reading, and playing cards or other games at least twice each week.
Other criteria included never having smoked or having quit smoking, exercising more than 75 minutes per week at a high intensity or more than 150 minutes per week at a moderate intensity.
The sixth healthy behaviour was to engage in at least two times a week of social contact, which might include visiting with family and friends, going to events, and attending meetings.
The researchers discovered that each distinct healthy behaviour was linked to a slower-than-average deterioration in memory over the course of ten years after controlling for characteristics that were expected to have an impact on the findings.
The three factors that had the biggest impact on memory deterioration were a good diet, cognitive activity, and physical exercise.
The pace of memory loss was slower in people with the APOE gene who lived generally healthy lives than in people with the least healthy form of the gene.
According to the BMJ, individuals with four to six healthy behaviours or two to three were, respectively, 90% and 30% less likely to get dementia or mild cognitive impairment than those with the least healthy behaviours.
“This is a well-conducted study, which tracked participants over a long period of time, and adds to the strong evidence that a healthy lifestyle can assist to enhance memory and thinking skills as we age,” said Dr. Susan Mitchell, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Too few people are aware of the actions we may all take to lower our risk of developing dementia in later life.