Change life to fight dementia
A GROWING number of young people are falling prey to dementia.
Some 850,000 people in the UK currently have the degenerative brain disease which destroys many lives, according to the Alzheimer’s Society.
Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with the condition that causes memory loss, confusion and speech problems.
Equally alarming is that an increasing number of younger people are succumbing to the disease, with over 40,000 UK sufferers who are under 65.
In 2016 it became the leading cause of death in the UK, overtaking heart disease.
Nutritional therapist Clare Daley, 53, said: “It’s happening in younger and younger people, with studies in Mexico finding changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s in their teens.”
She warned stress, lack of exercise and diet can affect your brain health. She believes we should try to prevent cognitive decline from our teenage years.
Clare said: “The sooner people start looking after their brain health the better. It’s never too late to make changes.”
Here are her top tips. Table tennis and dancing The World Health Organisation said more than a third of UK adults fail to get enough exercise, increasing the risk of dementia.
But instead of going for a run, Clare recommends taking up a sport that helps you exercise your body and brain.
She said: “More complicated exercise is the best, like table tennis or dancing.” Breakfast Better Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, so pack it full of foods and nutrients that can help keep the brain healthy.
Blueberries have lots of antioxidants and can be sprinkled on top of porridge, while walnuts are also high in healthy fats. Dark chocolate with more than 70 per cent cocoa content is also good for the brain.
Clare said: “A portion of blueberries at breakfast helps improve concentration and memory up to five hours later, and research shows kids who eat them at breakfast have a short term boost in brain function during the day.” Switch TV shows Getting enough shut-eye is a crucial to maintaining a healthy brain because this is the time the brain resets and recovers. Stress has a negative affect on our brain. A key hormone released when you are stressed, cortisol, has been linked to problems with memory. Stress also affects the immune system, which is known to play an important role in the development of dementia.
Clare suggests watching fewer high-action dramas – which can wind you up before bed – and try nature shows, such as David Attenborough’s, to cut stress. Write a happiness journal Even focusing on the positives of the day by writing a happiness or gratitude journal can reduce stress. Clare said: “Keep a notebook by your bed and at the end of the day write down three good things that happened.
“Even if you’ve had a rubbish day you have to find three good things. It puts your brain in a positive frame before sleep.” Sing loudly It will lift for your mood and stimulate a nerve connecting your brain to your gut.
A healthy gut is key in the battle against dementia. Harvard researchers discovered gut bacteria can cause the brain inflammation behind dementia.
Clare said: “Gargling and singing loudly stimulates the vagas nerve, and doing exercises can support both of your brain and your gut. Singing loudly also releases endorphins and other happy chemicals in the brain.” ■Clare works for Cytoplan supplements which has launched The Brain Health Programme to improve people’s cognitive function, memory and mood. See the website thebrainhealthprogramme.co.uk.
GET ACTIVE: For brain as well as body