50+ health * Healthy living

Cut your risk of demetia

Cut your risk of demetia Tips to stave off memory loss

Making a few lifestyle changes may help cut your risk of dementia, according to recent research.

Tea and coffee

Good news if you're a tea or coffee drinker. Researchers from the University of California tracked 4,800 people aged 65 and over for 14 years and found that those who drank tea regularly decreased their risk of Alzheimer's by as much as 37 per cent compared with non-tea drinkers.

And drinking coffee more than five times a week reduced their memory loss by up to 20 per cent compared with non-coffee drinkers.

The Alzheimer's Society said the study "adds weight to previous research that indicates caffeine could significantly reduce cognitive decline." However, more research is needed to confirm this.

Sunshine vitamin

Getting out and about in the sun may also help reduce your risk of Alzheimer's. Scientists from the University of Exeter looked at 3,325 people over the age of 65. Those who were severly deficient in the "sunshine vitamin" - vitamin D - were nearly five times more likely to suffer from memory loss and lack of concentration.

"It appears that the odds of cognitive impairment increase as vitamin D levels go down, which is consistent with the findings of previous studies," said Dr David Llewellyn, who led the study.

Vitamin D is produced by the skin when it is exposed to the sun. As it is only found in a limited number of foods such as oily fish, liver, milk and eggs, older people who spend more time indoors are more at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Some exercise will do you good

Doing moderate to heavy levels of physical activity may cut your risk of developing all types of dementia by 40 per cent, a US study found. Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine tracked 1,200 elderly people with an average age of 76 for 5 to 15 years.

Those who got little exercise were nearly 50 per cent more likely to develop dementa compared with those who did the most. The results were most evident in men than women.

Professor Clive Ballard, director of research at The Alzheimer's Society, said: "This robust and influential study provides strong support to the already comprehensive evidence that exercise is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of dementia. It is the old adage, what is good for the heart is good for the head.

"Whether it be a round of golf, a brisk walk or a session on the treadmill, 30 minutes of exercise five times a week can be beneficial at any age."

Eat some nuts

Eating walnuts may also help in staving off memory loss. US researchers found that mice with Alzheimer's disease which had been fed a walnut rich diet for 9 to 25 months showed significant improvements in learning, memory and motor co-ordination, compared to mice fed an ordinary diet.

Although further studies are necessary to test the effect on humans, adding foods packed with antioxidants and omega-3 can only be of benefit to your diet.

The findings were presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference held in Honolulu last week.

This article was published on Mon 12 July 2010

Image © Marcel Mooij - Fotolia.com

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