Olive oil has been a culinary staple since the dawn of time – and for more reasons than its tasty flavor. When consumed in moderation, it’s really healthy, offering a range of benefits including lowering inflammation, decreasing the risk of heart disease, depression, and dementia.
In fact, olive oil is considered to be one of the best foods for boosting brain health – improving both memory and focus. A recent study by Temple University linked extra-virgin olive oil consumption to reducing the formation of plaque on the brain that are indicators of Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Consuming a Diet High in Saturated Fats
Research has shown that people who have a diet which is high in saturated fats, such as canola oil, are more likely to develop dementia. The best nutrition that you can give your brain is a diet that is full of nuts, fruits, grains, and vegetables. You should replace butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil, and replace red meat with lean protein sources such as fish and chicken.
The reasons why you should decrease your sugar intake continue to mount, with one of the newest ones being that a diet which is high in sugar may trigger dementia. Researchers from the University of Bath and King’s College London tested the brain samples of 30 individuals with and without Alzheimer’s for glycation, or the condition of having sugar molecules in one’s system.
They discovered that those with Alzheimer’s disease were more likely to have issues with a vital enzyme called MIF as a result of glycation. Therefore, for the first time ever, researchers were able to link high blood sugar to Alzheimer’s.
4. Ignoring Chronic Illness
Untreated hypertension and diabetes are two high-risk factors for dementia. Those who are diabetic have a 73% increased risk of dementia and an even higher risk of developing vascular dementia than non-diabetics.
For both diseases, managing them with medication, diet and exercise can significantly decrease your dementia risk. To contain – or avoid – chronic illnesses, be sure to keep up with your doctor’s appointments. “Patients who visit doctors are less likely to get dementia, as high blood pressure, diabetes and hypertension all can be modified when they’re under a physician’s surveillance,” says Clifford Segil, DO, neurologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
Drinking too much can increase your risk of many health issues, including stroke, high blood pressure, liver disease, and dementia. “Drinking too much can make people’s brains atrophy or get pickled, causing early onset memory loss,” says Dr. Segil.
To add to this, years of drinking alcohol can cause rare forms of memory loss that lead to confusion, known as Wenicke-Korsakoff syndrome. It’s safe to drink in moderation – one drink per day for women and two for men. In fact, doing so, especially red wine, may be good for your brain health and overall well-being as the flavonoids in red wine are linked to a lowered risk of dementia in older people.
Cigarettes and cigarette smoke contain more than 4,700 chemicals. In addition to this, studies have shown that people who smoke are at higher risk of developing all types of dementia, and a much higher risk of Alzheimer’s, specifically. The good news is that former smokers have a much lower dementia risk than current smokers, so the sooner you quit, the better.
More than one million cases of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States can be linked to a lack of exercise, and yet nearly a third of Americans remain physically inactive.
The World Health Organization recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week, which is the equivalent of working out 30 minutes a day, five times a week.
8. Being a Loner
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital published a study that found an association between the feeling of loneliness and social isolation and the build-up of beta-amyloid – a protein that is linked to Alzheimer’s.
Therefore, even if you’re an introvert and enjoy your alone time, try to put more effort into pursuing social activities.
9. Taking Antihistamines Too often
Research has linked long-term antihistamine use to an increased risk of dementia. "Antihistamines offset what dementia medication is trying to do, which is increase the amount of acetylcholine in your system," explains Philip Stieg, MD, head of the Weill Cornell Medicine Brain and Spine Center and chief of neurosurgery at NY/Presbyterian.
Therefore, if you take over-the-counter drugs frequently, ask your doctor, nutritionist, or pharmacist about alternative treatments such as adding apples and vitamin C to your diet.