Life Style Choice and Memory Decline

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According to a decade-long study conducted by researchers from the National Center for Neurological Disorders in Beijing, China suggests that “a combination of healthy lifestyle choices such as eating well, regularly exercising, playing cards and socializing at least twice a week may help slow the rate of memory decline and reduce the risk of dementia”, writes Andrew Gregory, Health editor of the Guardian.

The study was recently published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) where its researchers wrote “A combination of positive healthy behaviors is associated with a slower rate of memory decline in cognitively normal older adults”.

Other findings of the study (as reported in the Guardian) include:

  • Practicing multiple healthy lifestyle choices together “was associated with a lower probability of progression to mild cognitive impairment and dementia”.
  • A healthy diet had the strongest effect on slowing memory decline, followed by cognitive activity and then physical exercise.
  • Overall, people with four to six healthy behaviors or two to three were almost 90% and almost 30% respectively less likely to develop dementia or mild cognitive impairment relative to those who were the least healthy.

Dr Susan Mitchell, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, told the Guardian:

  • “This is a well-conducted study, which followed people over a long period of time, and adds to the substantial evidence that a healthy lifestyle can help to support memory and thinking skills as we age.
  • “Too few of us know that there are steps we can all take to reduce our chances of dementia in later life.”

During their study, there researchers defined:

  • Healthy diets: eating at least seven out of 12 food groups: fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, dairy, salt, oil, eggs, cereals, legumes, nuts and tea.
  • Other healthy behaviors: writing, reading, playing cards or other games at least twice a week was the second area of healthy behavior.
  • Other healthy behaviors: drinking no alcohol, exercising for more than 150 minutes a week at moderate intensity or more than 75 at vigorous intensity, and never having smoked or being an ex-smoker.
  • Social contacts: at least twice a week was the sixth healthy behavior, including activities such as visiting family and friends, attending meetings or going to parties.
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