The 13 Seemingly Harmless Habits That Increase Your Risk of Dementia

If you are a coffee lover who enjoys attending various concerts and spending time on Netflix, you may be at increased risk for a common brain disorder.

Scientists warn that certain seemingly harmless habits can cause the brain to age prematurely, with the chance of developing dementia increasing as you engage in other, everyday habits.

From smoking to avoiding your doctor, here are thirteen habits that can increase your risk of dementia:

1. Drinking alcohol

Not a surprise to anyone: drinking a beer in the pub is not a good habit for your brain. While some may think that binge drinking alone is harmful, it turns out that even having a small drink can have a big impact.

One study, published in 2022, concluded that just two pints of beer or glasses of wine per day can age the brain by ten years. Shockingly, just one pint can prematurely age your brain by two years.

A second study of 40,000 Britons found that alcohol was one of the three most harmful yet avoidable risk factors for dementia, behind diabetes and air pollution the other two. Dr. Esther Walton, from the University of Bath, said: “Alcohol is definitely one of the most common things that ages the brain.”

“People who drink tend to have older-looking brains, but we don’t know if that is causal. It could be that older-looking brains ‘make us drink’.”

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2. Lacking enough sleep

It is common knowledge that not spending enough hours in bed can lead to forgetfulness, irritability and low energy. However, the problems can persist for a long time, even if it does not feel that way. According to scientists, not getting enough sleep can increase the risk of dementia in the long term.

A study published in Nature Communications found that those who got six hours or less sleep per night increased their risk by 30 percent compared to people who got seven hours or more. According to the authors, sleep is important because it helps remove toxic proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease from the brain.

Separate research concluded that teens were less efficient, flexible and resilient when they didn’t get enough sleep. In addition, they had difficulty understanding things, controlling their behavior and regulating their emotions.

3. Spending too much time alone

An American study looked at the brains of healthy adults who reported feelings of loneliness. The researchers found that these individuals had elevated cortical amyloid levels – a marker used to help diagnose dementia.

Additional research has linked social isolation to early-onset dementia, with symptoms occurring before age 65. Dr. Walton said: “There is strong evidence that loneliness is linked to a faster aging brain.”

4. Going to concerts

Loud noises increase the risk of hearing loss, making you more likely to develop dementia, scientists say. There are many ways this is possible, such as listening to music through headphones, on the radio or live at a concert.

This can be by listening to music through headphones, on the radio, or live during a concert, or from the workplace. Dr. Tim Beanland from the Alzheimer’s Society urged people to protect themselves and get checked early. He said: “If you will be exposed to loud noises for extended periods of time (or if you have gigs in the coming months), wear hearing protection if necessary.”

“It’s important to have your hearing tested. You can normally book a free hearing test at your local optician or speak to your GP about a referral to an audiologist. This will reveal any hearing problems and provide ways to treat them, such as the use of a hearing aid.”

5. Drink a cup of coffee

Shockingly, some papers say that drinking coffee is linked to an older brain, although experts say there is no evidence that caffeine can cause dementia.

A study in Nutritional Neuroscience found that heavy coffee drinkers (those who drink more than six cups per day) had a 53 percent higher chance of being diagnosed with dementia compared to light drinkers (one to two cups per day). They also tended to have smaller amounts of total brain volume, especially in the area responsible for memory.

According to some studies, drinking a cup of coffee can increase the risk of dementia

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6. Missing GP appointments

Not attending routine appointments, such as having your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked, is not good. Dr. Beanland said: “We know that poor cardiovascular health is a risk factor for brain diseases such as stroke, Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia and therefore ‘what’s good for the heart is good for the head’.”

7. Not exercising enough

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing dementia by 28 percent. This includes going to the gym, getting your steps in, or enjoying a morning swim.

Dr. Beanland said: “Research has shown that regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of dementia. Part of this is about healthier living: exercise, a healthy diet and so on.”

8. Participate in contact sports

A study in Denmark found that people over the age of 50 had an increased risk of dementia after head injuries lasting ten years. In addition, the risk of dementia increased with the number of head injuries sustained.

Another study from the University of Glasgow found that professional footballers have a three-and-a-half times higher risk of death from progressive brain injury than the general population. They were also five times more likely to die from Alzheimer’s disease.

9. Junk food

There are mixed opinions about the link between diet and brain disorders. However, it goes without saying that healthy eating is good for you and will have a protective impact.

Dr. Beanland said: “There is some evidence that eating a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of developing memory and thinking problems and certain forms of dementia. This means adding more fruits, vegetables, and grains to your cart and eating more. less red meat and sugary foods.”

Dr. Walton added: “There isn’t much evidence for exercise or diet. However, diet has been shown to influence other measures of biological aging, such as epigenetic aging.”

10. Lack of education

While cognitive decline is something everyone goes through as they get older. There are indications that a higher level of education reduces this – and therefore also your risk of dementia.

Dr. Rosa Sancho, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “While it is difficult to measure the extent to which individual lifestyle factors contribute to our overall risk of dementia, this study supports the idea that the education we receive early in life can shape our can affect health.” risk of developing the condition.”

11. Living with a stressful job

It goes without saying that too much stress is not good for you. While some will do well under stress, too much will disrupt your sleep, skin and mental health, but it can also cause brain shrinkage.

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According to the Alzheimer’s Society, stress affects the immune system, which is known to play a key role in the development of dementia. The hormone cortisol is released during periods of high stress, and this has been linked to anxiety, depression and dementia.

12. Mindless scrolling

Research from 2023 shows that we stare at a screen on average seven hours a day. However, it can be much more.

This causes a huge impact on our brains – and on something called ‘digital dementia’. Although not an official condition, it describes problems with short-term memory, forgetfulness, difficulty remembering words, and difficulty multitasking due to overuse of technology.

Another 2023 study found that more than four hours of screen time per day was linked to an increased risk of dementia. Dr. Beanland, author of Mind Games, said: “It’s about mental exercise, simply put, the brain is just like any other muscle: to keep it toned you need to hit the gym to help improve brain health and increase mental agility. Brain-stimulating activities like puzzles work in a different way, by building a ‘cognitive reserve’ of stronger neural pathways.”

13. Smoking

“While it is by no means a harmless habit, if you smoke you are at much greater risk of developing dementia later in life,” Dr Beanland said.

It is estimated that smoking increases the risk of developing dementia by 30 to 50 percent. According to some experts, about 14 percent of dementia cases around the world may be caused by smoking.

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