How and where we spend our time has a surprisingly immense impact on our health. Although we can’t change factors like genes, there are many day-to-day factors that we are in control of. Every small decision we make influences our health—and when we make many small decisions throughout our lifetime, they become big decisions.
Poor lifestyle habits have been linked to the development of many serious conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease. While there is no sure way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, there are small changes we can make each day to lower our risk. Learning about the connection between lifestyle and Alzheimer’s disease prevention can help you better understand how to care for your brain.
Alzheimer’s disease, the leading cause of dementia, is considered a multifactorial disease, meaning there is no single cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, Alzheimer’s disease is believed to develop as a result of complex interactions between genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors.
Although we can’t change our genetics or our environment in many cases, we do have control over how we live our lives. A large body of evidence suggests there are 12 potentially modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
*Note: A relative risk value greater than 1.00 indicates an increased risk of developing all-cause dementia, while a relative risk value less than 1.00 indicates a decreased risk of developing all-cause dementia.
Together, these risk factors are estimated to account for 40% of dementia cases worldwide. This means that nearly half of all dementia cases could potentially be prevented or delayed. However, it is important to keep in mind that some of the above factors are not always modifiable. For example, where you grow up and the level of education you are able to attain may not be modifiable. Similarly, there are genetic factors at play for hypertension and diabetes, meaning these risk factors are not always modifiable. At the end of the day, what matters is you do your best to modify the risk factors that are in your control.
Making changes is always challenging, but when it comes to brain health, the importance of making these changes cannot be overstated. Brain health underlies our abilities to communicate, make decisions, solve problems, and live healthy, fulfilling lives.
Making sustainable lifestyle changes takes time, dedication, and patience, but it can also be an opportunity for growth and improved health. Here’s what you can do to take charge of your brain health through healthy living.
Further research suggests that combining multiple healthy lifestyle behaviors may provide an even greater protective effect than individual healthy lifestyle behaviors alone.
Currently, all signs point to a close relationship between lifestyle and Alzheimer’s disease risk. We have a great deal of control over our brain health now and in the future. Small changes in your daily routine can have a big impact on your brain health.
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