Posted on May 15, 2019, 2 p.m.
The World Health Organization says “Dementia is not a natural or inevitable consequence of aging”, although age is a top risk factor.
For those wanting to save brain function it may best to focus on keeping the entire body healthy with regular exercise and healthy lifestyle habits which includes following a well balanced diet rather than just popping a bunch of pills, according to new guidelines for preventing dementia advise.
Some 50 million people currently are suffering with dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form, and according to W.H.O each new year will bring about 10 million new cases, the cost to care for dementia is projected to reach $2 trillion by 2030 with the oncoming silver tsunami.
Research suggests that at least a third of cases are preventable as many health conditions and behaviors can affect the odds of developing dementia. To date there is no known cure for this debilitating brain wasting disease, and many experimental therapies have failed, perhaps focusing on prevention may provide more benefits, according to Maria Carrillo of the Alzheimer’s Association.
The US National Institute on Aging and W.H.O appear to be on par with each other in their common sense advice which includes getting enough exercise; treating other health conditions; having an active social life; curbing/avoiding harmful habits such as smoking, as well as avoiding overeating and limiting alcohol.
The new guidelines suggests that Mediterranean style diets and eating well may help to prevent dementia, but they take a firm stance against taking vitamins and supplements that are promoted for brain health because there is not enough strong evidence to show they work.
“There is currently no evidence to show that taking these supplements actually reduces the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, and in fact, we know that in high doses these can be harmful,” says Dr. Neerja Chowdhary of W.H.O.
“People should be looking for these nutrients through food ... not through supplements,” says Carrillo agreeingly.
Surprisingly The World Health Organization did not endorse brain games or other activities aimed at boosting thinking skills saying that these can be considered for those with normal capacities or mild impairment but there is limited evidence of benefit.
Also the report says that there is not enough evidence to recommend using antidepressants to reduce the risk of dementia, and use of hearing aids will not reduce the risk of dementia but older people should be screened for hearing loss and have it treated accordingly.
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