Sunday, 3 Dec 2023

Dr Mosley shares ‘tricks’ to stave off dementia include new hobbies

Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia

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Cases of dementia are set to skyrocket in the upcoming decades as populations around the world get older. The good news is that age isn’t the only driver of cognitive decline which means you might be able to modify your risk of the brain condition. Dr Mosley has offered three research-backed solutions that could help do just that.

As someone in the world develops dementia every three seconds, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International, researchers keep looking at approaches that could help stave off the culprit.

Dr Mosley explains that one way to boost the brain known as neurogenesis, the process of creating new brain cells, has received a lot of interest in recent years.

For example, research, published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, found that genetic manipulation increases the production of new brain cells in mice with Alzheimer’s disease and restores memory.

“Using this technique in humans is some way off, but another more unusual approach to neurogenesis involves spending time in a hyperbaric chamber, a bit like those used to treat divers with the bends,” the doctor penned for Daily Mail.

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He continued: “In a study, published last year in the journal Aging, six people with an average age of 70, who were all showing signs of memory loss, underwent a series of sessions in a hyperbaric chamber.

“The changes in pressure and rising and falling oxygen levels increased blood flow to their brains by around 20 percent, with an average 16.5 percent improvement in memory scores.”

Although you probably don’t have an access to a hyperbaric chamber, there’s no need to worry as there’s another way to boost your brain’s blood flow.

You might be tired of hearing about the endless benefits linked to physical movement but exercise can really stave off various health problems. And dementia is no different.

Dr Mosley said: “A simpler way to improve blood flow to the brain is exercise, in particular press ups or squats — these involve moving your head up and down against gravity, which leads to big changes in blood flow. 

“This releases brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a hormone that acts like a fertiliser for the brain.”

While exercise is incredibly important for your overall health, it’s not the only thing that can ward off dementia.

The doctor also recommended trying intermittent fasting as research from King’s College London showed it improves long-term memory and leads to the generation of new brain cells in animal models.

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In case you’re not aware, intermittent fasting means that you don’t eat for a period of time each day or week.

You can eat normally during an eight-hour window each day, follow a normal diet for five days and fast for two, or alternate between days.

However, if exercise and fasting don’t appeal to you, the doctor’s “simple tricks” also include something that’s fun and doesn’t involve restricting yourself.

Dr Mosley added: “Another established approach for growing new brain cells is to challenge your brain by taking up a hobby such as learning a new language, painting or dancing.”

The Alzheimer’s Society explains that staying mentally and socially active could help “delay, or even prevent, dementia from developing”.

What’s more, anything that challenges your brain goes, so you can find the activity that’s right for you.

From crosswords to card games and from creative writing to arts and crafts, there’s plenty to choose from, including:

  • Any kind of adult education or learning
  • Arts and crafts (especially in groups)
  • Playing a musical instrument or singing
  • Volunteering
  • Doing brainteasers such as puzzles, crosswords or quizzes 
  • Playing card games, chess or board games 
  • Reading books, or becoming a member of a book club 
  • Creative writing or keeping a diary 
  • Learning a new language.

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