How to maintain a healthy brain
Research has demonstrated that meditators tend to have lifestyles which are dementia unfriendly. Typically people meditating at least twice a week have healthier diets than the general population and consume less alcohol and tobacco. We feature below some recent research which sets out lifestyle choices linked to reduced risks of cognitive impairment and dementia. As with all research treat each study on its merits and don’t assume any one study tells a full story.
- A correlation between moderate and strong forms of anxiety and the development of late stage dementia has been found.
- Meditation was demonstrated to improve memory in participants in the 52 – 76 age range. Significant results were seen in just 8 weeks.
- Smoking and dementia – In a big study from South Korea (46,140 men aged 60 years or over), it was indicated that men that had never smoked or that had given up smoking had lower risks of developing either Alzheimer’s dementia or vascular dementia. Stopping smoking at any age appears to support brain health.
- Remaining socially engaged appears to bring health and wellbeing benefits to young and old alike.
- In 2015 over 110,000 people died of Alzheimer’s Dementia (AD) in the US, the sixth leading cause of death. Deaths from AD increased by 123% in the fifteen years following 2000. In contrast mortality rates linked to stroke and heart disease fell.
- Strategy-based cognitive training (SCT) can be successfully used to improve memory and attention in older adults both in the short term and the long term. These improvements are likely to be supported with increased?altered brain structures. Although not studied against changes to the risk of developing dementia, the evidence is highly suggestive that increasing attention and memory post 65 would lead to a decreased probability of mild cognitive impairment or dementia.
Further information could be found (at the time of writing) at these locations.
- Information report by this BMJ website.
- Details of the study published at the WebMD website
- Choi, D., Choi, S., & Park, S. M. (2018). Effect of smoking cessation on the risk of dementia: a longitudinal study. Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.
- All in Together; Creating Places Where Young and Old Thrive, a report from Generations United and the Eisner Foundation, 2018.
- Alzheimer’s Association. (2018). 2018 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 14(3), 367-429.
- Mowszowski, L., Lampit, A., Walton, C. C., & Naismith, S. L. (2016). Strategy-based cognitive training for improving executive functions in older adults: a systematic review. Neuropsychology review, 26(3), 252-270.