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LMU 60 – Empowering Brain Health: Lifestyle and Nutrient Factors in Dementia Prevention

Nine Lifestyle Factors Shown to be Responsible for 35% of Dementia Cases

LMU 60 – Empowering Brain Health: Lifestyle and Nutrient Factors in Dementia Prevention

Lifestyle Medicine Update (July 29, 2017)


Dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease as its most usual form, poses a significant global health concern. A study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on July 20, 2017, and simultaneously published in The Lancet, unveiled an intriguing insight into the factors that contribute to dementia. Surprisingly, nine lifestyle elements were found to be accountable for 35% of all dementia cases worldwide. This revelation underscores the pivotal role of lifestyle choices in the realm of brain health.

Lifestyle Factors and Dementia: Unveiling the Nine

The nine lifestyle factors identified as catalysts for dementia are a compelling wake-up call. These include:

  1. Incomplete Secondary Education: The early years of education emerged as a crucial determinant, with failure to complete secondary education found to be linked to increased dementia risk.
  2. High Blood Pressure: Uncontrolled hypertension was highlighted as a potent contributor to dementia.
  3. Midlife Obesity: The repercussions of obesity during midlife resonated as a factor that amplifies the risk of dementia.
  4. Midlife Hearing Loss: A subtle yet impactful association was established between midlife hearing loss and heightened dementia risk.
  5. Smoking: The perils of smoking emerged as an influential lifestyle element that enhances the vulnerability to dementia.
  6. Depression: The link between depression and dementia reinforced the intricate interplay of mental health and cognitive well-being.
  7. Physical Inactivity: A sedentary lifestyle was identified as a significant precursor to dementia, emphasizing the importance of staying active.
  8. Social Isolation: The consequences of social isolation echoed as a concerning factor that contributes to dementia.
  9. Diabetes in Later Life: The correlation between diabetes in later stages of life and dementia risk underscored the significance of managing diabetes for cognitive health.

Beyond the Nine: Uncharted Terrain

It is noteworthy that the study refrained from incorporating dietary factors, alcohol consumption, visual impairment, air pollution, and sleep practices. Consequently, the 35% attributed to lifestyle factors may be a conservative estimate, as one researcher implies. The influence of these unexplored dimensions could potentially elevate the significance of lifestyle choices in the prevention of dementia.

Nutrients and Cognitive Health: A Glimpse into the Future

The pursuit of cognitive well-being extends beyond lifestyle factors to encompass specific nutrients. Recent scientific reviews underscore the role of select nutrients in memory preservation, focus enhancement, and mood regulation.

Omega-3 fats garnered attention for their cognitive benefits, with a meta-analysis from 2015 demonstrating their positive impact on cognitive health. Omega-3 supplementation, particularly with daily DHA doses exceeding 1 gram, displayed improvements in cognitive function among older adults. Moreover, omega-3 fats complement drug therapy in depression treatment, establishing their dual role in mental health.

Phosphatidylserine, a noteworthy supplement, showcased potential in dementia and cognitive dysfunction alleviation. The FDA’s cautious endorsement reflects the evolving research landscape, allowing for the assertion that phosphatidylserine may mitigate dementia risk.

CDP-choline supplements surfaced as promising interventions to counter early-stage cognitive decline. Choline’s role in acetylcholine production, a memory-related neurotransmitter, solidifies its significance in preserving cognitive vitality.

B-vitamin supplementation, particularly folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and vitamin B3-niacin, exhibited brain health benefits. Their efficacy in curtailing age-related brain shrinkage and lowering homocysteine levels, a molecule linked to Alzheimer’s development, underscore their relevance.

Antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E exhibited potential in reducing cognitive impairment risk, while emerging nutrients like lutein and magnesium emerged as preventives against age-related cognitive decline.

In an Indian context, Bacopa Monnieri demonstrated remarkable efficacy in early-stage memory loss treatment, rivalling dementia medications. The adaptogen herb Ashwagandha and melatonin supplementation showcased preliminary promise in reversing mild cognitive impairment and fostering sleep, respectively.

A Holistic Approach to Dementia Prevention

Dementia prevention extends beyond the brain to encompass overall health. Ensuring ideal blood cholesterol levels to prevent cerebrovascular disease, averting head injuries, and head trauma assumes a pivotal role. However, the crux of dementia prevention rests in embracing a proactive stance towards lifestyle modification and nutrient integration. Empowering brain health involves nurturing cognitive well-being through education, sound health practices, and a nutrient-rich diet.



Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino


Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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