Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning. Common signs include memory loss and difficulties carrying out daily activities. Although some risk factors for dementia cannot be changed, factors tied to lifestyle can be. Health sites suggest drinking a certain amount of water may help to manage the risks.
Drinking water plays an essential role in helping people to exercise, maintain a healthy diet and boosting energy levels, all of which may reduce a person’s risk of dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Society advised drinking six to eight glasses of water a day.
In addition, the health body advised drinking fewer than 14 units of alcohol per week.
According to the NHS, avoiding sugary drinks also plays a key role in maintaining a healthy diet.
As Alzheimer’s Research UK explained, the following lifestyle tips may offer the best defence against developing dementia:
- Don’t smoke
- Keep cholesterol and blood pressure under control
- Be active and exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy balanced diet
- Drink fewer than 14 units of alcohol per week.
“Some research has found that identifying and treating high blood pressure in midlife may reduce the risk of dementia,” said the research body.
A person who maintains a healthy lifestyle in their forties and fifties seems to be at a lower risk, it said.
Interestingly, a social factor may also stave off the risk.
A person who is more socially active in their 50s and 60s may have a lower risk of developing dementia later on, revealed a recent UCL-led study.
The longitudinal study, published in PLOS Medicine, reported the most robust evidence to date that social contact earlier in life could play an important role in staving off dementia.
“Dementia is a major global health challenge, with one million people expected to have dementia in the UK by 2021, but we also know that one in three cases are potentially preventable,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Andrew Sommerlad (UCL Psychiatry).
He added: “Here we’ve found that social contact, in middle age and late life, appears to lower the risk of dementia. This finding could feed into strategies to reduce everyone’s risk of developing dementia, adding yet another reason to promote connected communities and find ways to reduce isolation and loneliness.”
The research team used data from the Whitehall II study, tracking 10,228 participants who had been asked on six occasions between 1985 and 2013 about their frequency of social contact with friends and relatives.
The same participants also completed cognitive testing from 1997 onwards, and researchers referred to the study subjects’ electronic health records up until 2017 to see if they were ever diagnosed with dementia.
For the analysis, the research team focused on the relationships between social contact at age 50, 60 and 70, and subsequent incidence of dementia, and whether social contact was linked to cognitive decline, after accounting for other factors such as education, employment, marital status and socioeconomic status.
The researchers found that increased social contact at age 60 is associated with a significantly lower risk of developing dementia later in life.
The analysis showed that someone who saw friends almost daily at age 60 was 12 per cent less likely to develop dementia than someone who only saw one or two friends every few months.
They found similarly strong associations between social contact at ages 50 and 70 and subsequent dementia; while those associations did not reach statistical significance, the researchers say that social contact at any age may well have a similar impact on reducing dementia risk.