Two Behaviors Reduce Dementia Risk

There is no single answer to the question: What causes Alzheimer’s and dementia in a certain percentage of the population? There are many studies, however, that investigate how one’s lifestyle contributes to the risk of developing dementia later in life.

From these studies it becomes clear that eating healthy food and exercising  reduce overall risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Healthy diet and exercise habits should begin in childhood, because they are more likely to last throughout the lifetime. shutterstock_117974122

Eat Healthy Foods in Moderation

Keeping your heart healthy helps save your brain. Individuals who have an elevated risk of developing heart disease and stroke also tend to score lower on tests for cognitive function.

In a study published by the journal Neurology, researchers state that “Higher cardiovascular disease risk and higher stroke risk were associated with greater cognitive decline in all tests except memory.” Cognitive decline refers to things like making decisions, and figuring out problems.

Over-eating also leads to an increased risk of cognitive impairment. In a study out of Mayo Clinic, researchers found that “the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI [mild cognitive impairment].” Watch a video summary of the study here:


One of the best diets to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s is the Mediterranean diet. Researchers have found that eating more nuts and extra virgin olive oil [EVOO] helps the brain function better. According to the published results of the study “An intervention with MedDiets enhanced with either EVOO or nuts appears to improve cognition compared with a low-fat diet. ”


There are numerous studies that prove exercise helps the brain. Short and focused exercise improves cognitive function and memory immediately. Mild to moderate exercise that is carried out regularly helps prevent the brain from shrinking.

shutterstock_252786013Staying active is especially important in middle age. Exercising  helps improve brain function later in life, because it prevents the hippocampus in the brain from losing volume. The hippocampus is found in the middle center of the brain, and is associated with memory and emotions.

According to one study “important findings indicate that aerobic exercise training is effective at reversing hippocampal volume loss in late adulthood, which is accompanied by improved memory function.”

Eating healthy food and exercising help in all aspects of living and aging in a healthy manner. Eating healthy food in moderation and exercising regularly improve not only quantity of life, but also quality of life. These habits are an investment in a better future.

The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed medical professional. It is essential that you discuss with your primary care provider any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.


Sara Kaffashian, Aline Dugravot, Alexis Elbaz, Martin J. Shipley, Séverine Sabia, Mika Kivimäki, and Archana Singh-Manoux Predicting cognitive decline A dementia risk score vs the Framingham vascular risk scores Neurology 2013; doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31828ab370

Elena H Martínez-Lapiscina, Pedro Clavero, Estefania Toledo, Ramon Estruch, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Beatriz San Julián, Ana Sanchez-Tainta, Emilio Ros, Cinta Valls-Pedret, Miguel Á Martinez- Gonzalez; Mediterranean diet improves cognition: the PREDIMED-NAVARRA randomised trial Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry Published Online First 13 May 2013

Erikson, K. et al. (2010) Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory; Proceedings of the National Academy of Science , 3017–3022, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1015950108

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