The Impact of Lifestyle Choices on Memory Decline: Insights from a 10-Year Study

Research published in The BMJ has found links between a healthy lifestyle and memory decline in older adults using a 10-year, population based prospective cohort study. As people get older, some notice that they have changes in memory, like forgetting where they put their keys or having trouble remembering someone’s name.

The Impact of Lifestyle Choices on Memory Decline

For the most part, these changes don’t significantly impact a person’s daily life. Many people believe these are normal changes that occur with aging, and yet they don’t occur in everyone. It is normal for people of all ages to forget things occasionally, but progression to mild cognitive impairment, which is an early stage of loss of memory and other cognitive abilities, is not a normal part of aging.

The prevalence of memory decline may be increasing. In a 1993 Spanish study of people aged 40 years and over, researchers found the prevalence of memory impairment was 3.6%, and in individuals 65 years and older it was 7.1%. According to the CDC, a more current measurement found that 1 in 10 U.S. adults aged 45 years and older reported having memory loss.

The Role of Lifestyle Choices in Memory Function

While they are similar in nature, memory decline and dementia are two distinct conditions that affect how the brain functions. However, worsening memory loss is sometimes an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, which affects an estimated 6 million Americans, 73% of which are 75 years and older. But there is hope, since data from the featured study indicates that making simple lifestyle choices can have a significant impact on your long-term brain health.

Simple Steps Linked to Slower Memory Loss

A group of researchers from China investigated lifestyle choices that might protect against memory loss in older adults. The study involved 29,072 participants aged 60 years or older, and the researchers followed up with them over a 10-year period.

These lifestyle factors included physical exercise, diet, alcohol consumption, smoking habits, cognitive activity, and social contact. Participants who followed four to six of these lifestyle choices were in a favorable group, while those who followed two to three were in an average group. Individuals who followed 0 to 1 were in the unfavorable group.

Results Were Also True for APOE4 Carriers

The study also considered the impact of the APOE genotype on memory decline. While the APOE4 genotype is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, individuals who carried APOE4 and had favorable or average lifestyles showed a slower memory decline compared to those with unfavorable lifestyles.

Diet, Linoleic Acid, and Memory Decline

Linoleic acid, found in seed oils, can have a detrimental effect on memory and overall health. Choosing the right type of fats for your diet, such as olive oil over canola oil, can help protect against memory impairment. Consuming linoleic acid has been linked to worsening memory and learning abilities in animals with Alzheimer’s disease.

Additional Strategies for Memory and Cognitive Health

Aside from lifestyle choices, there are other strategies you can implement to protect your memory and cognitive health. These include consuming mushrooms rich in antioxidants, taking a 10-second balance test to assess cognitive function, addressing periodontal disease, walking backward to boost memory, ensuring adequate intake of flavonol and choline, supplementing with magnesium threonate, avoiding statins, and maintaining a healthy body weight.

Protecting your cognitive health is a combination of what you do and do not do. By incorporating these simple steps into your daily routine, you can support long-term brain health and potentially slow down memory decline.

Original Author: Dr. Mercola

Source: Dr. Mercola’s Blog

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