Healthy lifestyle cuts dementia risk in people with diabetes

Healthy lifestyle cuts dementia risk in people with diabetes

If you have Type 2 diabetes, remember the number seven. That’s the number of healthy lifestyle habits that can help ward off dementia.

Recent research by scientists in China shows that adhering to a combination of positive lifestyle habits substantially reduces the risk of developing dementia later in life.

For the study, the researchers analyzed a health care database of nearly 170,000 people age 60 and older with and without diabetes. Participants gave blood samples, provided physical measurements and answered health questionnaires.

The scientists then calculated a healthy lifestyle score of zero to seven, with one point awarded for each of the seven healthy habits. Those included not smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, regular physical activity and seven to nine hours of sleep nightly. A healthy diet was also a consideration: Fewer refined grains and processed meats as well as more fruits, vegetables and fish.

Some of the other contributing factors to a healthy lifestyle score included watching less than four hours of television a day. Likewise, for those who can give up their relative isolation: The researchers awarded healthy lifestyle points to people who visited friends and family at least monthly and socialized once a week or more.

After tracking the participants for 12 years, more than 4,300 people developed dementia. People with diabetes who followed two or fewer of the seven healthy habits were four times more likely to get dementia than those without diabetes who adopted all seven healthy habits.

That, the researchers concluded, sends a clear message: Healthy lifestyle habits not only help control diabetes, they can keep cognitive abilities in tune.

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