About one million people in Italy are suffering from dementia and their number is increasing. Although there is still no treatment, in about one in three cases, cognitive decline is avoidable. With Dr. Lara Fratticci, a neurologist at Humanitas, we have seen what, according to the latest scientific evidence, are all the actions that can be taken to prevent the disease that, in one case out of three, with the right measures can be avoided.
Here are seven strategies that keep our brains healthier
1. Keep your weight under control: diabetes and obesity in middle age can double the chances of dementia in old age. Monitoring weight has an impact on cardiovascular health and this can significantly reduce the risk to the brain.
2. No smoking: A study showed that middle-aged people who smoked more than two packets a day had a risk of dementia more than double in old age.
3. Stay active: Regular physical activity, such as walking at a steady pace, can preserve faculties in old age. Studies have found that older people who had started a regular exercise program had better cognitive function.
4. Train the mind: people with more years of school and university education have, even as elders, a more elastic mind, but also undertake new hobbies and participate in daily intellectual activities, such as doing crossword puzzles, has neuroprotective effects.
5. Don’t isolate yourself: attending associations or volunteering has been shown to have a protective effect on brain functions.
6. Adopt the Mediterranean diet: the increased consumption of fruit, fish and vegetables can reduce the risk, probably because it helps to prevent hypertension.
7. Sleep an appropriate number of hours for your age: the reason is not clear yet, but chronic insomnia has been linked to an increase in cognitive decline in old age.