Your heart health in middle age may predict your risk of dementia later
While factors such as your genetics, race, and gender play a role, a healthy diet and lifestyle can greatly reduce your risk of developing both heart disease and dementia later in life.
Researchers from a 2023 study that included data on more than 114,000 people found that people who followed a more healthful diet, including a plant-based and Mediterranean-style diet, had lower lower risk of developing dementia in later life7. The study also found that these healthy eating patterns were significantly associated with increased brain volume, which is encouraging because brain volume loss is associated with cognitive decline8.
Both of these diets are low in sugar, which appears to be particularly harmful to brain health. Researchers in 2021, who analyzed data from nearly 3,000 people, found that those who consumed sugary drinks the most were almost 3 times more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, than people who avoided these drinks.
These same recommendations (following a plant-based, low-sugar Mediterranean diet) are also associated with improving overall heart health9 and a lower risk of heart disease10.
In addition to what you eat, exercising, avoiding and quitting smoking, controlling your weight, and taking heart-healthy supplements can also help protect your heart and brain.