NIH details five lifestyle choices that slash Alzheimer’s disease risk

The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging (NIA) has funded a study that links five lifestyle behaviors with a drastic decrease in one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The research was recently published in the journal Neurology, revealing that people who adhered to at least four of the five lifestyle factors were at a 60-percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that often appears late in a person’s life, slowly robbing them of their memory and potentially causing mood issues, among other things. The rise in dementia cases caused by increasingly long lifespans has prompted vast amounts of research into ways to identify the disease early and stop or reverse its progression before symptoms appear.

Alzheimer’s disease is linked to both genetic and lifestyle factors, with neither necessarily resulting in the development of the disease. The new NIH-funded study focused on the lifestyle aspects, finding five habits that drastically cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in 3,000 study participants. They are:

– Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise every week.

– Not smoking

– Eating a MIND diet, which is a combination of the DASH and Mediterranean diet that focuses on plant-based foods.

– Staying mentally active late in life

– Limiting alcohol consumption

Based on the participants’ data, the study found that at least four of these five factors must be followed to see the benefits, though even one lifestyle factor was found to lower the risk by 37-percent. The research follows many past studies that have found similar links between lifestyle factors and Alzheimer’s risk; some have also warned that poor sleep quality and high blood pressure may increase one’s odds of developing the condition.

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