Dementia causes an ongoing decline of brain function and can trigger problems such as memory loss, a person’s thinking speed, their mental sharpness and quickness, their mood and their movement. While getting older is a big risk factor for dementia – the four main types being Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal demential and Lewy body dementia – there are things you can do to reduce your risk. One of these is making sure you drink a certain amount of water each day.
A healthy, balanced diet may reduce your risk of dementia, says Alzheimer’s Society, as well as other conditions including cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke and heart disease.
Drinking water forms part of this.
The dementia charity, as well as other health bodies and professionals, recommend drinking six to eight glasses of fluid a day.
While the healthiest choice is water, lower fat milk and sugar-free drinks can also be included.
Other components of a healthy diet should include eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
You should also eat protein, such as oily fish, beans, pulses, eggs or meat, at least twice a week, limit your sugar intake and look out for hidden salt.
It’s also important to eat starchy foods like bread, potatoes and pasta, but eat less saturated fat.
Other things you can do to reduce your risk of dementia is exercise.
You should aim to do either 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, riding a bike or pushing a lawnmower, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging, fast swimming or rising a bike up a hill.
Doing resistance activity is also important, this can include something as simple as digging in the garden, or exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups.
Other ways of reducing your risk of dementia are:
- Not smoking
- Drinking less alcohol
- Exercising your mind
When it comes to exercising your mind, alzheimer’s society explains: “Keeping your mind active is likely to reduce your risk of dementia. Regularly challenging yourself mentally seems to build up the brain’s ability to cope with disease. One way to think about it is ‘Use it or lose it’.
“Find something you like doing that challenges your brain and do it regularly. It’s important to find something that you’ll keep up. For example study for a qualification or course, or just for fun, learn a new language, do puzzles, crosswords or quizzes, play card games or board games, or read challenging books or write (fiction or non-fiction).”
It adds: “Talking and communicating with other people may also help to reduce your risk of dementia. Make an effort to keep in touch with the people who are important to you, such as friends and family.
“Volunteering, or joining a club or community group are also good ways to stay socially active.”
Because there’s currently no cure, it’s important to recognise the early symptoms of dementia.