Are there any proven Alzheimer's prevention strategies?
Answer From Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D.
Not yet. But there's strong evidence that healthy lifestyle habits — such as diet, exercise and not smoking — 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 lifestyle factors can be considered a proven strategy to prevent Alzheimer's disease.
In particular, the Mediterranean diet has been associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The Mediterranean diet is also linked to improved cognition in people who are at risk of heart and other vascular diseases.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fish and uses olive oil as the primary cooking fat. This type of diet is also a heart-healthy diet that reduces the risk of conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. These conditions are also risk factors for dementia.
More research is needed before experts know specific ways to prevent Alzheimer's. But here are some steps that promote good overall brain 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.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Take care of your mental health.
- Use thinking (cognitive) skills, such as memory skills.
- Avoid head injury.
- Treat hearing loss.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
June 02, 2022
Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D.
See more Expert Answers
- NIH consensus development conference statement on preventing Alzheimer's disease and cognitive decline. NIH Consensus and State-of-the-Science Statements. 2010;27:1.
- Press D, et al. Prevention of dementia. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed March 31, 2022.
- Duplantier SC, et al. A critical review of the study of neuroprotective diets to reduce cognitive decline. Nutrients. 2021; doi:10.3390/nu13072264.
- Can Alzheimer's disease be prevented? Alzheimer's Association. https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/research_progress/prevention. Accessed March 31, 2022.
- Guzman-Martinez L, et al. New frontiers in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Journal of Alzheimer's disease. 2021; doi:10.3233/JAD-201059.
- Livingston G, et al. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. Lancet Commissions. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30367-6.
- Graff-Radford J (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic; March 31, 2022.