Lifestyle changes are a must to reduce the risk of acquiring dementia later in life: HCFI

11:27 am Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine

A balanced lifestyle can keep both physical and mental health in good shape

New Delhi, 27th May 2019: The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released a set of guidelines indicating that a range of lifestyle modifications may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. The guidelines put the focus on regular exercise, a healthy diet, and controlling obesity, diabetes and hypertension. The need of the hour is to raise awareness on the importance of taking preventive measures in averting the risk of dementia and other diseases.

Dementia can be defined as a group of symptoms involving loss of memory and other thinking skills. The WHO has termed it as one of the greatest global challenges for health and social care in the 21st century.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Lifestyle has a major role to play in the health and well-being of a person. It’s not just physical health that benefits from a balanced lifestyle, but also mental health. Dementia is usually regarded as a part of the normal aging process, but it is not always so. The condition is also associated with lifestyle factors. The risk of dementia can be reduced by simple yet effective lifestyle modifications. A healthy lifestyle adopted early in life builds up the cognitive reserve for later. It is also important to advise our family and friends to start making positive changes for a healthy old age.”

The WHO guidelines are aimed at healthcare providers who can advise people. They have been listed under various categories such as low to moderate, strong, and low to high, based on the quality of evidence available and the strength of recommendations.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “It is important that you engage in regular mentally stimulating activities to keep those brain cells up and running. This is particularly beneficial for those who have crossed their 40s. Try doing light brain stimulating tasks like crossword puzzles, quizzes, daily reading or anything similar that interests you. For older individuals, it is advised that they engage their mental reserves through social engagement and exercise.”

India has an ever-growing elderly population, out of which 1.6 million are suffering from Alzheimer’s. This number is only expected to triple by 2050. At an individual level, each one of us must take proactive steps towards a better lifestyle.

Some tips from HCFI

  • Maintain a healthy weight by eating healthy and indulging in regular physical activity.
  • Eat mindfully. Emphasize on colorful, vitamin-packed vegetables and fruits; whole grains; fish, lean poultry, tofu, and beans and other legumes as protein sources plus healthy fats. Cut down on unnecessary calories from sweets, sodas, refined grains like white bread or white rice, unhealthy fats, fried and fast foods, and mindless snacking. Keep a close eye on portion sizes as well.
  • Exercise regularly. Aim for 2½ to 5 hours of brisk walking every week. You can also try vigorous exercises like jogging for half that time.
  • Keep an eye on important health numbers. In addition to watching your weight, keep a check on your cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as blood pressure and blood sugar.

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