The Healthy Food Guide team believe that making small diet and lifestyle changes brings the best long-term gains. We look at the science behind the headlines and promote a balanced way of eating.

Check out the lifestyle changes that may help delay or prevent onset of dementia

DEMENTIA IS NOW one of our biggest health challenges, affecting 820,000 people in the UK. Alzheimer’s disease is its most common form, resulting in memory loss and changes in personality. It’s currently incurable and sufferers eventually need full-time care. Around 500,000 people in the UK suffer from Alzheimer’s, and around 5% of these are under 65.

The disease occurs when protein plaques and tangles develop in the structure of the brain, leading to the death of brain cells. Early symptoms to look out for are confusion and disorientation, memory loss and language problems.

Thankfully, results from a 35-year study carried out by Cardiff University have identified five important factors in preventing diseases of old age:

1. Take regular exercise
2. Don’t smoke
3. Maintain a healthy BMI
4. Follow a healthy diet
5. Keep alcohol intake low

Researchers found that people who followed four of these healthy lifestyle habits experienced a 60% decline in dementia (as well as 70% fewer instances of heart disease, stroke and diabetes), compared with those who followed none. What’s more, exercise was the most significant. ‘We should all lead a more active lifestyle,’ says the study’s Professor Peter Elwood. ‘Any exercise has some benefit, and the more the better.’

Following the recommended lifestyle habits leads to a 60% decline in dementia

Professor Peter Elwood, Cardiff University