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Encouraging healthy living can reduce chances of dementia

Living a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of dementia in later life by a third claims research.

Edinburgh University's Disconnected Mind project, sponsored by Age UK, carried out a range of studies concluding that lifestyle was responsible for 76% of changes in the brain.

This means that certain habits such as taking regular exercise, eating a Mediterranean diet and reducing alcohol intake can decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer'sor other forms of dementia.

Similarly, lifestyle habits that increase the chance of diabetes such as high blood pressure and obesity are also likely to increase the chances of dementia in later life.

One large UK study carried out over 30 years found that men aged between 45 and 59 who followed four to five of the identified lifestyle factors were found to have a 36% lower risk of developing cognitive decline and a 36% lower risk of developing dementia than those who did not.

The review supported claims that very heavy drinking increases the risk of developing dementia as it results in the loss of brain tissue, particularly in the parts of the brain responsible for memory and processing and interpreting visual information.

According to the latest estimates, there are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia and the disease will affect one in three people over the age of 65.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director, said: “While there's still no cure or way to reverse dementia, this evidence shows that there are simple and effective ways to reduce our risk of developing it to begin with.

“What's more, the changes that we need to make to keep our brains healthy are already proven to be good for the heart and overall health, so it's common sense for us all to try to build them into our lives.

“The sooner we start, the better our chance of having a healthy later life.”