Dementia: Exercise, diet, healthy lifestyle can prevent it …

Posted: May 19, 2019 at 12:48 am

USA TODAY sat down with Ruth Drew of the Alzheimers Association to discuss family conflicts due to caring for a relative with dementia. USA TODAY

Eat well, exercise often and don't take some of those vitamins, the World Health Organization said in newly released guidelines on how to reducerisk of dementia.

With dementia already affecting 50 million people globally and withnearly 10 million new cases each year, the WHO issued new guidelines Tuesday in efforts to curb its riseand help health providers and lawmakers provide better care and policy around it.

"In the next 30 years, the number of people with dementia is expected to triple,"WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. "We need to do everything we can to reduce our risk of dementia. The scientific evidence gathered for these guidelines confirm what we have suspected for some time, that what is good for our heart, is also good for our brain."

The nearly 100-page report outlines various recommendations with varying degrees of scientific backing for people to consider.

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Physical activity, not smoking or drinking too much, eating a balanced diet (the WHO named aMediterranean-like diet specifically) and managing blood pressure and weight were all among the recommendations the global health group said mighthelpreduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Taking pills for vitamins B and E, polyunsaturated fatty acids and multi-complex supplements is not recommended to reduce your risk, the WHO said.

Dementia affects people's memory, comprehension, orientation, judgment and other cognitive functions beyond what is normal for aging. A variety of diseases or conditions, like Alzheimer's or stroke, can cause dementia, the WHO says.

"While age is the strongest known risk factor for cognitive decline, dementia is not a natural or inevitable consequence of aging," the report states. "Prevention of dementia is possible through a public health approach."

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Follow USA TODAY's Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller

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