Scientists have recently identified the three major factors for dementia and disability. Keeping blood pressure down, exercising regularly and maintaining good lung function through not smoking were found to have the most impact on staying physically and mentally healthy in later life.
Previously other factors such as low fruit and vegetable consumption, high alcohol intake, poor sleep, depression, obesity, body mass index, high cholesterol and high glucose levels had been linked to poor cognitive and mobility function in later life. But scientists found that they actually had little impact on overall health.
Dementia is the leading cause of death in Britain with around 850,000 people affected. To find out what were the most dangerous health risks researchers from UCL, the Economic and Social Research Council and the British Heart Foundation looked at data from the Whitehall II study of more than 10,000 people in Britain who have been followed since 1985.
At age 50, all were checked for twelve risk factors of dementia and disability and followed for 18 years when they were again tested for physical and cognitive functions. Of the twelve risk factors, physical activity, high blood pressure and lung function were the three most important predictors of poor functioning around age 70.
Researchers say policies to encourage a healthy lifestyle in older age should aim to tackle those three risk factors above all others.
It all makes sense. I believe keeping the mind alert is also an important issue and moderation in everything else will certainly keep us as immune to dementia as humanly possible.