Why a healthy lifestyle is not enough to prevent dementia

Credit: Ella Olsson / Unsplash

In the absence of treatment options, the focus is shifting to preventing dementia. In particular, a healthy lifestyle is considered beneficial for brain health.

In a study from Germany, scientists found that opportunities for a healthy lifestyle are unequally distributed: being socially disadvantaged is linked to a higher risk of dementia.

Previous research has found great potential for dementia prevention based on modifiable health and lifestyle factors, such as hypertension, obesity, physical and mental activity, and diet. In other words: a healthy lifestyle is good for brain health.

In the current study, the team used data from more than 6,200 participants. The proportion of women and men was the same. The people were between 40 and 79 years old and were not affected by dementia.

The scientists mapped a complex lifestyle index with twelve modifiable risk factors for dementia. These include hypertension, physical activity, smoking, obesity, and dietary habits.

Subsequently, the influence of the index on the link between socio-economic factors such as education, occupational status, and household income, and mental performance and results of neuropsychological tests, is examined.

The team found that differences in mental performance due to social inequalities are related to modifiable health and lifestyle factors for dementia.

This suggests that lifestyle interventions could mitigate social inequalities in cognitive performance.

According to the researchers, however, health and lifestyle factors only explain differences in mental performance due to socio-economic factors to a small extent.

The study findings therefore also suggest that the greater emphasis may be on the social conditions themselves.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about Vitamin B9 deficiency linked to higher dementia risk, and flavonoid-rich foods could help prevent dementia.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that cranberries could help boost memory, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.

The study was conducted by Dr. Susanne Röhr et al and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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