Are there any proven Alzheimer's prevention strategies?
Answers from Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D.
Not yet. But there's strong evidence that several factors associated with leading a healthy lifestyle may play a role in reducing your risk of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. However, more research is needed before any of these factors can be considered a proven strategy to prevent Alzheimer's disease.
Population-based studies suggest that factors associated with overall good health, such as regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet and keeping your brain active through lifelong learning, may also reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline.
In addition, the Mediterranean diet has been associated with a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease and, among those at risk of heart and other vascular diseases, improved cognition. The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fish and uses olive oil as the primary cooking fat.
While more research is needed to confirm specific Alzheimer's prevention strategies, here are some steps that promote good overall health:
- Avoid smoking
- Control vascular risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes
- Eat a balanced diet—such as the Mediterranean diet—that's rich in vegetables, fruits and lean protein, particularly protein sources containing omega-3 fatty acids
- Be physically and socially active, including engaging in aerobic exercise
- Take care of your mental health
- Use thinking (cognitive) skills, such as memory skills
Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D.
Feb. 11, 2016
- Preventing Alzheimer's disease: What do we know? National Institutes of Health. https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/preventing-alzheimers-disease/introduction Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
- Press D, et al. Prevention of dementia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
- Baumgart M, et al. Summary of the evidence on modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia: A population-based perspective. Alzheimer's & Dementia. 2015;11:718.
- Morris MC, et al. MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's & Dementia. 2015;11:1007.
- Martinez-Lapiscina EH, et al. Mediterranean diet improves cognition: the PREDIMED-NAVARRA randomised trial. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. 2013;84:1318.