Since there are many types of dementia, it is not easily described as a specific disease. However, depending on the type, dementia causes or can cause a decline in cognitive function. For example, Alzheimer’s disease, one of the types of dementia, can include loss of memory and thinking skills. However, while dementia causes memory loss, not all memory loss is due to dementia. Follow these 8 steps to help you prevent dementia .

How to prevent dementia with 8 steps

Dementia even causes or can cause depression, mood swings, poor judgment and irritability. And very often, dementia causes a severe disruption in daily functioning. Other types of dementia include or can come from Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and frontotemporal dementia.

8 steps to prevent dementia

There are treatment methods for dementia available. Dementia treatment methods involve managing symptoms. Traditional methods of treating dementia include medication and therapy. Other treatment methods for dementia include exercises and learning to communicate with the patient. But since there is no cure for dementia, prevention is crucial.

1. Beware of high levels of copper in the water

Although you need small amounts of copper to survive, a large amount can be harmful to your brain.

In fact, a 2013 study found that copper can trigger the onset of Alzheimer’s. Also, it can fuel disease. The researchers in this study have not specified how much “too much” copper is. However, it is a good idea to test your water for excess copper which is where amounts may be leaked.

You will want to use a water filter that is NSF certified under NSF / ANSI 53 for copper reduction. Will reduce copper to below EPA’s maximum contaminant level or lower.

2. Avoid allergy medications and other dementia-related pills

Common allergy and sleep medications are linked to dementia. This includes many popular medications such as Benadryl, Dramamine, Advil PM, and Unison. These pills are known to have anticholinergic effects, which is something researchers are increasingly linking to dementia.

A 2016 study used brain imaging to detect how anticholinergic drugs affect the brain. Using imaging technology, the researchers were able to show how people taking anticholinergic drugs experience lower brain metabolism and increased brain atrophy. Also, participants taking anticholinergic drugs produce the worst results on memory tests.

Additionally, scientists at the University of Washington found that chronic use of certain anticholinergic sleep antidotes and allergy medications increased a person’s risk of dementia. However, the study found the link only for people taking these drugs for three or more years.

If you can, you should find other ways to ease your allergy symptoms. And you should incorporate more natural and safe ways to help you sleep.

A 2010 study suggests that peppermint oil acts as a relaxant and exhibits antispasmodic activity. This inhibits the contractions that make you cough. Just make sure not to use it on children under 30 months. It can affect the heart, lungs, and circulation in dangerous ways.

3. Sleep in a position favorable to the brain

It may not seem like a big deal, but sleep positions matter. Most people sleep on their sides. And it turns out that this may be the best position for your brain. It has to do with the drainage of harmful substances.

One study found that the brain’s glyphatic pathway, a complex system that cleans waste and other harmful chemicals from the brain, worked best when people slept on their sides. This was in comparison to people who sleep on their bellies or backs.

4. Avoid brain-damaging pesticides

Evidence increasingly suggests that dementia is not just a genetic problem. Researchers have linked environmental triggers like DDT to Alzheimer’s. People with higher levels of DDT in their blood are much more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Fatty and animal foods contain the highest levels of DDT. This is because they are stored in fat and increase in concentration as they move up the food chain. Also, some non-organic products imported from countries still use DDT.

If you’re still not convinced that pesticides are harmful, a 2015 study found that people who ingested foods treated with acetamiprid , an insecticide, complained of symptoms such as memory loss, finger tremors, and headaches.

5. Live a useful life

Rush University Medical Center revealed a remarkable connection between a person’s sense of purpose and dementia risk. Participants who reported the highest scores on the life purpose test were 2.4 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared to those with the lowest scores. Living a purposeful life includes things like feeling good about past accomplishments and hope for the future.

To find more purpose in your life, you can try volunteering or getting closer to your friends who make you feel whole. You can also try taking up a hobby that really interests you.

6. Beware of low vitamin D levels

A 2015 study suggested that people with a severe vitamin D deficiency face a 122 percent increased risk of dementia.

To determine if you are deficient in vitamin D, ask your doctor for a blood test. Make sure you get the actual number, rather than a descriptive word like “normal.”

If you need the supplements, make sure you are on the vitamin D3 form. This type is more available to your body than the D2.

7. Take care of your teeth and gums

Poor oral hygiene can also be linked to Alzheimer’s disease. One study investigated the dental habits of approximately 5,500 seniors over an 18-year period. The researchers found a strong link between people with poor oral hygiene and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Those who reported brushing their teeth less than once a day were up to 65 percent more likely to develop dementia. This was compared to people who brushed twice a day. The study author noted that gum disease bacteria can reach the brain. This triggers an inflammatory process that causes brain damage.

8. Be active

A 2017 study looked at vascular cognitive impairment with respect to dementia. Specifically, they studied how exercise affects patients.

Researchers recruited 38 older people who had been diagnosed with an early, mild form of vascular cognitive impairment. None of the subjects exercised at that time. The researchers measured the brain activity of the participants and then began the exercise regimen. The regimen consisted of three supervised one-hour sessions per week. The supervisors told the participants to move at a brisk pace; enough to raise your heart rates to about 65 percent of your maximum capacity.

At the end of the study, the brains of those in the exercise group were working differently. They showed less activity in the areas required for attention and quick decision-making. The researchers significantly associated reduced activity in these brain regions with faster task performance.

Dr. Eric Jackson

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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