Your Health And Your Brain
If you want to keep your wits about you as you age, the best strategy appears to be maintaining a healthier lifestyle when you’re younger. This finding comes from a new investigation of seniors living in China and was independent of whether or not individuals carry a particular form of the gene APOE. (One form of this gene increases the risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.) To reach the latest conclusion the Chinese team examined data from more than 6,000 seniors age 80 or older taking part in large, ongoing study. The investigators concluded that participants who had maintained healthy lifestyle practices in prior decades were 55 percent less likely to develop cognitive impairment than those with an unhealthy lifestyle. Those who had maintained intermediately healthy lifestyles were 28 percent less likely to suffer cognitive compromise than their peers who had less healthy lifestyles.
My take? Improvements in medicine, science and technology have enabled today’s older Americans to live longer lives than any previous generation and maintaining prudent lifestyle practices throughout life can make those years healthy, even among those with genetic predisposition to illness. Research has established that there are measurable and consistent benefits to performing daily physical activity, including both aerobic and weight-bearing exercise. Diet is just as important. Nutritional status influences the incidence and course of many diseases, and studies have shown that good nutritional status can reduce length of hospital stays and promote health, healing, and longevity.
Xurui Jin et al, “Association of APOE ε4 genotype and lifestyle with cognitive function among Chinese adults aged 80 years and older: A cross-sectional study.” PLOS Medicine, June 1, 2021; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003597
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