With the progressive ageing of the world's population, it is estimated that the number of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease will double over the next 15 years, generating enormous costs for health systems. Consequently, reducing the risk of this disease is one of the priorities of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Almost a third of cases could be prevented by acting on modifiable risk factors, i.e. factors that could promote the development of the disease and that the person can influence by modifying his or her lifestyle.
Recent research has shown that the neurodegenerative process that leads to the progressive loss of brain cells (neurons) already begins 10 to 15 years before the first clinical symptoms of the disease appear (e.g. memory loss). For this reason, primary prevention interventions that act on risk factors could lead to a reduction in the number of cases of Alzheimer's disease or a slowing of its onset. This innovative field of investigation shows how certain simple interventions can improve the cognitive and cerebral health of senior citizens.
Here are some strategies to improve cognitive performance and keep the brain trained and active!
Particularly aerobic activities, such as running, brisk walking, cycling, but also amateur dancing, tai chi and martial arts.
Risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke, such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes, are also risk factors for developing Alzheimer's disease.
Smokers have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Quitting smoking can reduce the risk to a level comparable to that of non-smokers.rs.
Participating in social and recreational activities and engaging in daily relationships with others improves quality of life and is associated with a lower risk of dementia.
Engaging in cognitive activities promotes the mechanisms of brain plasticity. For example, reading a book or newspaper, doing crosswords, playing cards or checkers, visiting a museum or an exhibition helps to maintain brain plasticity.
The Mediterranean diet is effective in reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. It is advisable to eat fruit, vegetables (preferably seasonal), bread, pasta and wholegrain cereals, olive oil, onion, garlic and spices daily and in quantity, while limiting red meat, cold cuts, sugar and salt.