Study Shows These Two Lifestyle Factors Increase Your Risk For Alzheimer's

New Research Sheds Light on the Connection Between Lifestyle Factors and Alzheimer’s Disease

New studies presented at the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference this summer contain significant findings on two primary areas of study: the harmful effects of stress on cognitive function and the brain health benefits related to diet.   

Stress is a Leading Factor in Brain Aging

Growing evidence shows that early life stress, negative major life events, and neighborhood conditions contribute to dementia risk in late life.  Topline research findings reveal:  

  • Even one major stressful event from early in life can have a lasting impact on brain health – aging the brain from 1-4 years - with each additional stressor causing more aging.
    • Stressful experiences include:  serious health problems or psychological trauma; struggles in school; growing up in a financially unstable household; living with a parent who abuses drug or alcohol.
  • Stress later in life has also been shown to cause increased cognitive decline and risks for dementia.
    • These later in life stressors include:  losing a job; having financial problems; going through a divorce; experiencing the death of a child.
  • African Americans experience more than 60 percent more stressful events than Caucasians.  Because of this stress, along with other factors, African Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
    • The levels of stress in an African Americans’ life were significantly higher for those living in poverty stricken areas, where quality of life stressors can be more prevalent.
    • Providing a better upbringing, more access to care, food, and proper education could help curve the rate of brain aging in African Americans.

Healthy Eating Habits May Preserve Cognitive Function

Study results are increasingly showing a connection between good dietary practices and better cognition in old age and a lower risk for dementia.  

  • The primary takeaway is that individuals who follow diets long known to contribute to cardiovascular health are also more likely to maintain strong cognitive function in old age.  Desirable dietary guidelines include:
    • Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, beans and seeds, with healthy fats coming from extra virgin olive oil, have been proven to help cognitive functioning.
    • Avoiding added sugars, flour, fats, processed foods, grease and fatty meats.

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