Researchers have long known links between dementia and factors such as social isolation and obesity, but the scale and scope of the new study show that a healthy lifestyle can slow brain aging. It adds substantial evidence to global studies that suggest it may improve.
It also suggests that the impact of a healthy lifestyle may be beneficial for people who are genetically predisposed to memory loss. This is a “very encouraging” finding for millions of individuals worldwide who carry her APOE ε4 gene, a major risk factor. Eef Hogervorst, a professor of biological psychology at Loughborough University, said Alzheimer’s disease was not involved in the study.
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memory naturally People gradually decline with age. Some older people can develop dementia, an umbrella term that includes Alzheimer’s disease, and generally represents cognitive decline beyond the normal effects of aging. , “Amnesia is just the forgetfulness of aging,” wrote the authors of the BMJ study. For example, forgetting the name of a TV show you once loved or forgetting an embarrassing fact you wanted to look up.
Memory loss is equally detrimental because it is gradual, and age-related memory decline can be an early symptom of dementia in some cases. The news is that it “may be reversed or stabilized rather than progressing to a morbid state.”
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The BMJ study was conducted in China from 2009 to 2019. Researchers tested her more than 29,000 people over the age of 60 to track progress or decline over time. This is known as a population-based cohort study. Over the next decade, more than 10,500 participants dropped out of the study, although some died or stopped participating, but the researchers used the data collected from those individuals in their analyses. Did.
At the beginning of the study, researchers performed a baseline memory test and a test of the APOE gene. They also surveyed the participants’ daily habits. Participants were categorized into one of her three groups, Favorable, Average, and Unfavorable, based on their lifestyle.
Here are six modifiable lifestyle factors that researchers focused on:
- Physical Exercise: At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.
- Diet: Eat at least 7 of the 12 foods (fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, dairy products, salt, oil, eggs, cereals, legumes, nuts, and tea) in moderate amounts each day.
- Alcohol: never or occasionally.
- Smoking: Never smoked or was a former smoker.
- Cognitive activity: Exercise your brain at least twice a week (for example, read or play cards or mahjong).
- Social Contact: Engaging with others at least twice a week (for example, attending community meetings or visiting friends and relatives).
In the course of research, researchers find that people in the Favorable groups (4-6 health factors) and average groups (2-3 health factors) had a faster rate of memory decline over time than people with unfavorable lifestyles (0-1 health factors). It was late.
People who lead a favorable lifestyle that includes at least four healthy habits They were also less likely to progress to mild cognitive impairment or dementia.
The results show that “the more of these behaviors, the better.” In other words, the healthier lifestyle factors you combine, the better your chances of preserving memory and avoiding dementia.
In particular, this also applied to those who carry The APOE gene is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
“These results cannot modify genetic risk, but suggest that a combination of healthier lifestyle factors are associated with a slower rate of memory decline, regardless of genetic risk.” and therefore provide an optimistic outlook,” the study’s authors wrote.
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Carol Blaine, a professor of public health medicine at the University of Cambridge, said that while “most publications are based on Western high-income countries,” the size and length of follow-up studies, and that conducted in China It stands out in that respect. The geriatrics and dementia researcher said in an email.
However, the study authors cautioned that people’s own reports of health behavior may not be entirely accurate, and that people who participated in the study were more likely to lead healthy lives from the start. We allow some restrictions.
Hogervorst says some of the results of the study differ from those of other large studies conducted in the United States and Europe. For example, a BMJ study found that a balanced diet was the most effective lifestyle factor in slowing memory loss. Other research suggests that diet in old age is less important than physical and mental exercise, says Hogervorst.
Still, the results are consistent with the broad scientific consensus that there is a link between the way we live and cognitive function as we age. And perhaps more importantly, it suggests that it may not be too late to improve brain health.
Snorri B. Rafnsson, associate professor of aging and dementia at the University of West London, said in an email. “That is, cognitive function, especially memory function, in old age may be positively affected by regular and frequent engagement in a variety of health-related activities.”
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