Change life to fight de­men­tia

The People - - LIFESTYLE - By An­to­nia Paget

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

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