Dementia guide

Can dementia be prevented?

There is no certain way to prevent all types of dementia.

However, a healthy lifestyle can help lower your risk of developing dementia when you are older. It can also prevent cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and heart attacks.

To reduce your risk of developing dementia and other serious health conditions, it's recommended that you:

  • eat a healthy diet
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • exercise regularly
  • don't drink too much alcohol
  • stop smoking (if you smoke)
  • make sure to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level

Diet and dementia

A low-fat, high-fibre diet including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and wholegrains can help reduce your risk of some kinds of dementia.

Limiting the amount of salt in your diet to no more than six grams a day can also help. Too much salt will increase your blood pressure, which puts you at risk of developing some types of dementia.

High cholesterol levels may also put you at risk of developing some kinds of dementia, so try to limit the amount of food you eat that is high in saturated fat.

Read more about eating healthily.

How weight affects dementia risk

Being overweight can increase your blood pressure, which increases your risk of getting some kinds of dementia. The risk is higher if you are obese. The most scientific way to measure your weight is to calculate your body mass index (BMI).

You can calculate your BMI using the BMI healthy weight calculator. People with a BMI of 25-30 are overweight, and those with a BMI above 30 are obese. People with a BMI of 40 or more are morbidly obese.

Read more about losing weight.

Exercise to reduce dementia risk

Exercising regularly will make your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient. It will also help to lower your cholesterol and keep your blood pressure at a healthy level, decreasing your risk of developing some kinds of dementia.

For most people, a minimum of 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, such as cycling or fast walking, is recommended.

Read more about exercising regularly.

Alcohol and dementia

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol will cause your blood pressure to rise, as well as raising the level of cholesterol in your blood.

Stick to the recommended limits for alcohol consumption to reduce your risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and dementia.

The recommended daily limit for alcohol consumption is three to four units of alcohol a day for men, and two to three units a day for women. A unit of alcohol is equal to about half a pint of normal-strength lager, a small glass of wine or a pub measure (25ml) of spirits.

Read more about drinking and alcohol.

Stopping smoking could reduce dementia risk

Smoking can cause your arteries to narrow, which can lead to a rise in your blood pressure. It also increases your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, cancer and dementia.

The NHS Smoking Helpline offers advice and encouragement to help you stop smoking. You can call them on 0800 022 4332 or visit the NHS Smokefree website.

Your GP or pharmacist can give you help and advice on giving up smoking.

Read more about stopping smoking.

 

Page last reviewed: 16/10/2014

Next review due: 16/10/2016

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Living with dementia

Advice, help and support for anyone newly diagnosed with dementia, worried they have early signs of dementia, or caring for a person with dementia.

Media last reviewed: 22/11/2013

Next review due: 22/11/2015

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