GMB: Jackie Stewart says his wife's dementia gets 'very serious'
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Doctor Hilary Jones recommends “small ways” people can reduce their risk of dementia, from dietary tweaks to how you can stimulate the brain. “As we get older, it’s very important to keep your mind active,” said Doctor Hilary. “You can do this by challenging your brain with puzzles, reading books, learning new skills, or taking art classes.”
Keeping the brain sharp doesn’t require joining MENSA – the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world – as it can be as simple as engaging with loved ones.
To help protect the brain from toxins, it’s also advisable to stay away from cigarette smoke and to limit the body’s exposure to alcohol.
“We know that smoking does a lot of harm to the body, including the blood vessels in the brain, and the heart,” Doctor Hilary explained.
“If you’re a smoker you’re not only heightening your risk of cancer and heart disease, you’re also increasing your risk of dementia too.”
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“Talk to your GP or pharmacist for support on ways to stop smoking,” the doctor elaborated.
As for alcohol consumption, if you are regularly drinking more than 14 units a week, “you’re at risk of damaging your brain”.
What’s the equivalent of 14 units? It’s 10 small (125ml) glasses of wine or seven pints or beer.
Doctor Hilary cautioned: “Binge drinking is particularly bad because you’re exposing your brain to really toxic levels of alcohol in one sitting.
“Your brain and liver will thank you for cutting down and spreading your units over the week.”
In addition to removing toxins from the diet, you need to make sure it’s healthy in other ways to help minimise the risk of dementia.
“A healthy, balanced diet that contains a variety of different food groups, sensible portions and not too many treats is a really great way of staying healthy,” said Doctor Hilary.
“A Mediterranean-style diet is a great way of achieving this.”
A Mediterranean-style diet
The cholesterol charity Heart UK explained what the Mediterranean diet consists of, such as:
- Unsaturated fats.
Doctor Hilary also recommends committing to regular physical activity.
“Not only is it good for your heart, circulation and wellbeing, it’s one of the best ways to reduce your risk of dementia,” assured Doctor Hilary.
“It also doesn’t require an expensive gym membership! You can even sign up to do a charity challenge event.”
Doctor Hilary suggests taking part in the Alzheimer’s Society’s Trek26, which is “taking place in eight breathtaking locations across the UK between May and September”.
For more information on how to get involved in the event, visit alzheimers.org.uk/Trek26.
This Dementia Action Week (May, 16-22), Alzheimer’s Society wants to make sure no one is missing out on a dementia diagnosis.
If you’re worried about your memory, or that of a loved one, visit www.alzheimers.org.uk
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