Amira, Here's the link to a large recent meta-study on exercise and dementia prevention. (I had made a chart of various exercise studies and this is my summary plus the link.
Exercise interventions for cognitive function in adults older than 50: a systematic review with meta-analysis
British Journal Sports Medicine
My summary notes:
The findings suggest that an exercise program with components of both aerobic and resistance type training, of at least moderate intensity and at least 45 minutes per session, on as many days of the week as possible, is beneficial to cognitive function in adults aged over 50 years." Aerobic helped cognitive in general. Resistance helped memory, working memory, executive functions. Tai Chi may also have benefits. Yoga did not show benefits.
My understanding is that aerobic exercise is crucial to the brain because it gets oxygen and nutrients there. There are new neurons created in the hippocampus (memory center) in response to exercise. Volume of hippocampus in regular exercisers is larger. These effects are quite strong. (I can give you more links if you'd like.)
Resistance training may do its work because of the chemical messages muscles send when we tear them up a bit in strength training. The chemicals call for a clean-up crew to come clean up the mess (autophagy). This does not take place just in the muscles we worked out, but all over the body. When the clean-up crew gets called in, quirky or damaged cells anywhere might get cleaned up. The brain gets a cleaning as well. (The other way I am aware of to induce autophagy is fasting. Some protocols have suggested that either an extended overnight fast (12-14 hours) or a 2 day per week light eating "fast") or a few days every few months of pure fasting may be protective. )
The plaques that occur in our brains get cleaned out during the deep stage of sleep, making getting a full night's sleep an important dementia-prevention strategy.
Gingivitis bacteria (the stuff that causes inflammation in your gums) has been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. Since it's implicated in heart disease as well, good oral hygiene could turn out to be important beyond avoiding dentures.
Cognitive stimulation is important. People with higher levels of education have lower rates of dementia, as do people who had very mentally taxing jobs. (Didn't work for Reagan.) Pretty much keep seeking cognitive growth your whole life. One theory is cognitive reserve: if you've created a whole lot of neural "highways" and several get clogged, you may still have a viable route left whereas someone with fewer highways may be at a deadend. Research has been 'meh" for computer games except one: Double Decision by Posit X science. http://www.trci.alzd...0059-8/fulltext You can get access to that and other brain games for like $15 per month. That's the only one with this level of research support though.
Social connection is another factor that seems to stave off dementia longer.
Make sure any hearing loss gets corrected ASAP. Untreated hearing loss is implicated in dementia.
Avoid certain drugs that can precipitate or accelerate dementia. Many are OTC and commonly used, but in the aging population, they can cause or accelerate dementia. http://www.sigot.org...rs-Criteria.pdf Scroll to Table 2 and look at Dementia and to Table 7 for list of anticholinergic drugs. Don't count on primary care physicians to know about this. That's why the Geriatric Association publishes this list--because of the need to inform. My loved one was on several of these, one of the worst an antidepressant prescribed for 8 years for a &%*#@ rash. 8 years. My loved one is of the generation who aren't inclined to question a doctor's advice. I asked a friend who is in charge of medication errors in a major university hospital why doctors are not aware and she said that right now, there are no warnings on package inserts and that's what doctors read. She was well aware of the research suggesting the drugs are dangerous.
Plus Mediterranean, DASH or MIND diet.
Edited by Laurie4b, 03 January 2018 - 05:55 PM.