Preventing Dementia – the role of nutrition in dementia prevention

Preventing Dementia – the role of nutrition in dementia prevention

Dementia was once thought to be a natural part of getting older.

“But research is showing that dementia may be preventable,” says Activity and Nutrition Aotearoa (ANA) executive director Alison Pask.

“By increasing awareness that the condition is not necessarily an inevitable part of ageing, we can encourage New Zealanders to take steps to reduce the risk of getting it, enabling them to live a full and active life.”

What is dementia?

Dementia is a group of conditions leading to cognitive decline that impacts upon activities of daily living and social functioning.

There are different types of dementia. In New Zealand, the most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease (60% to 80% of dementia diagnoses).

Alison Pask of ANA says: “Globally, the number of people with dementia is increasing, and it is now recognised as a major health challenge.

In 2016, over 62,000 New Zealanders were diagnosed with dementia, a total expected to increase to over 170,000 by 2050., This increase has a wide-reaching impact on our country; both economically and socially.”

How can I reduce my risk of dementia?

Dementia is not a natural part of the ageing process. Both non-modifiable risk factors (genetics, age, gender, ethnicity) and modifiable (diet, activity, pre-existing medical factors, smoking, educational attainment) influence whether we get dementia or not.

As well as positive dietary changes and eating well research shows benefits of physical activity, attending to health issues, remaining socially engaged and stimulating our brains.

Modifiable risk factors may cause approximately 35% of dementias.