The WHO’s outlined measurements to prevent dementia
Let’s take a closer look at a very serious but often forgotten illness. Read on to find out what the WHO’s measurements to prevent dementia are.
For a long time, we believed that you cannot protect yourself from dementia. However, each of us can actually help to reduce our personal risk on a daily basis. It depends on our diet and lifestyle, say the new WHO guidelines on preventing the disease.
Moving more, eating according to the Mediterranean model, not smoking, this is how you can prevent dementia.
The World Health Organization (WHO) published measures against the degenerative disease for the first time, thereby pointing out the connection between diet, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and dementia.
What is good for the heart is also good for our brain
According to the WHO, dementia will affect more and more people in the coming years. Around 5 million Americans of all ages and 5.8 million over the age of 65 currently suffer from Alzheimer’s dementia or other dementias.
These numbers could triple in the next 30 years. Every year around 10 million new cases get registered worldwide.
“We have to do everything we can to reduce the risk of dementia,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The measures for this can be summarized easily: “What is good for our heart is also good for our brain.”
Preventing dementia and staying mentally fit: 7 things we can do ourselves
The following measures are the key findings of the new WHO guideline for the prevention of dementia:
1 – Enjoyment for the brain
A balanced and healthy diet not only tastes good to us, but it also tastes good to our brain. The WHO expressly recommends Mediterranean cuisine to reduce the risk of dementia. It consists of a lot of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, some cereals and olive oil.
Stay mentally fit – the WHO recommends this menu:
Plenty of vegetables, fruits, legumes (lentils, beans, etc), nuts and whole grains (unprocessed corn, millet, oats, wheat, brown rice).
At least 400 grams (5 servings) of vegetables and fruits a day. This does not include potatoes, sweet potatoes and tapioca.
Less than 10 percent of our energy should come from sugar. This corresponds to a maximum of 50 grams per day (including processed sugar in finished products, sweet drinks, (manuka) honey).
Prefer unsaturated fats from fish, avocado, nuts and vegetable oils like olive oil. You should avoid industrial trans fats, e.g. from snacks, fried foods, donuts.
Eat less than 5 grams of salt a day (1 tsp), and use iodized salt.
2 – Exercise for the gray matter
It’s just that our body wants movement and exercise. We are not designed to sit down for a long time. And our brain also benefits from it, because it receives challenges and training with the different stimuli.
It doesn’t always have to be a sport. The WHO also counts on household chores, cycling and walking. Muscle strengthening exercises are recommended twice a week.
From the age of 65, at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intensive training per week would be ideal.
3 – Maintain social contacts
Puzzles and memory training is good, but what is also important: meet up with friends, family and other social contacts.
Those who exchange ideas have lively conversations and, thus, also deal with new things. This promotes brain activity. Or maybe you are learning a new foreign language together with others in a group?
4 – Keep an eye on blood pressure and blood sugar
Have your blood pressure and blood sugar levels checked regularly. Elevated values are risk factors for our mental degradation and have a negative impact on our brain.
5 – Avoid being overweight
If we carry too much weight with us, it also affects our brain. This fact makes our diet and regular exercise the most important tools to reduce excess weight.
6 – Consume less alcohol
Alcohol acts as a cell poison and damages our brain. The WHO, therefore, advises maximally moderate alcohol consumption.
7 – Don’t smoke
The toxins contained in tobacco directly damage our brain. Therefore, not smoking is an important protective factor against dementia.
Psychologist Becca Levy from the Yale School of Public Health (PLoS ONE, 2018) furthermore discovered that people with a positive attitude toward aging have only half the risk of dementia as pessimists. So stay optimistic and enjoy life!
Dementia – what role do inflammation and oxidative stress play?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common dementia. This leads to changes in the brain and nervous system.
The breakdown of nerve cells leads to the loss of numerous cognitive abilities. The causes have not yet been fully researched.
So far, doctors know that oxidative processes and inflammation are involved. Because the brains of those affected demonstrate oxidative damage. You can find out more about oxidative stress and cell protection here.
Would you like to add something to our topic of measurements to prevent dementia? Or, perhaps, you have questions or would like to share your own experiences and stories regarding this disease with us.
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