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Lifestyle and Alzheimer's Disease: Protecting Your Brain Health

February 10, 2023Neelem Sheikh

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.

Lifestyle and Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

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.

Potentially Modifiable Risk Factors for Dementia: The Life-Course Model

Risk Factor

Relative Risk for Dementia (95% CI)

Risk Factor Prevalence

Early-Life (age <45 years) 

Lower Educational Attainment



Midlife (age 45-65)

Hearing Loss



Traumatic Brain Injury






Alcohol Consumption (>21 units/week)



Obesity (body mass index ≥30)



Later Life (age >65)







Social Isolation



Physical Inactivity 






Air Pollution



*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.

Lifestyle and Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention

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.

Dementia Risk Factor

Prevention and Mitigation

Less Education

  • If not already in place, vote for policies that address access to high-quality education.

Hearing Loss

  • Get your hearing tested regularly.

  • Avoid excessive noise when possible.

  • Monitor the volume of your devices (e.g., TV, speakers, mobile devices).

  • Wear protective hearing gear, such as earplugs or protective earphones, in noisy environments (e.g., concerts, construction sites, lawn mowing/leaf blowing, auto racing, hunting/shooting).

  • Don't smoke or stop smoking.

  • Protect your head from injury.

Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Wear your seat belt.

  • Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Prevent falls.

  • Wear a helmet or appropriate headgear during sports.


  • Eat a healthy diet.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Don’t smoke or stop smoking.

  • Limit alcohol consumption.

  • Get enough sleep.

Alcohol consumption

  • Limit alcohol consumption.

Obesity (body-mass index ≥30)

  • Eat a healthy diet.

  • Increase physical activity.

  • Limit your time sitting.

  • Get enough sleep.

  • Reduce or mitigate stress.


  • Don’t smoke or stop smoking.


  • Find ways to manage stress.

  • Prioritize self-care (eat healthily, exercise regularly, get enough sleep).

  • Confide in those you trust.

  • Seek professional mental health support.

  • Avoid or limit alcohol consumption and smoking.

Social Isolation

  • Stay socially active by volunteering, participating in clubs, and engaging with friends and family.

Physical Inactivity 

  • Engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.


  • Control your weight.

  • Exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet.

  • Don’t smoke or stop smoking.

Air Pollution

  • Check the daily air pollution forecast in your area and act accordingly.

  • Exercise indoors when air quality is unhealthy.

  • Avoid wood fires.

  • Consider using an air purifier.

  • Change your air filters regularly.

  • Vote for policies that reduce population exposure to air pollution.

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. 

Altoida’s mission is to accelerate and improve drug development, neurological disease research, and patient care. To learn more about our precision neurology platform and app-based medical device, contact us today.

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