As we age, we often worry about our brain health and the possibility of developing dementia. A new study reveals that we can reduce our risk of dementia by following simple healthy habits, called “Life’s Simple 8”. These habits are easy to adopt and can improve our overall well-being. As a behavioral neurologist and researcher at NYU Langone Health and Chief Medical Officer of Isaac Health, I was interviewed to share insights about this study. In this blog post, I’ll discuss what Life’s Simple 8 are, how they can help reduce the risk of dementia, and how you can adopt them into your lifestyle.
What is Life's Simple 8?
Life’s Simple 8 is a set of eight healthy habits created by the American Heart Association (AHA) to improve cardiovascular health. These habits include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Engaging in regular physical activity
- Managing blood pressure
- Controlling cholesterol levels
- Regulating blood sugar levels
- Not smoking
- Getting enough sleep
Why are these habits important?
According to the AHA, these habits can improve cardiovascular health, which can reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and other health issues. But recent research suggests that these habits can also reduce the risk of dementia.
Reducing the Risk of Dementia with Life's Simple 8:
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that following Life’s Simple 7 (which includes 7 out of the 8 habits of Life’s Simple 8) can reduce the risk of dementia by up to 60%. The study followed over 6,000 adults for an average of 8 years and found that those who followed these healthy habits had a lower risk of developing dementia than those who did not.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these habits and how they can reduce the risk of dementia:
- Eating a healthy diet: A healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, can reduce inflammation in the brain, which has been linked to dementia. Eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can also improve heart health, which can reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
- Maintaining a healthy weight: Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of dementia. Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, which are also risk factors for dementia.
- Engaging in regular physical activity: Physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which can improve brain function and reduce the risk of brain damage.
- Managing blood pressure: High blood pressure has been linked to an increased risk of dementia. Managing blood pressure through medication, diet, and exercise can reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
- Controlling cholesterol levels: High cholesterol levels have been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Controlling cholesterol levels through medication and diet can reduce this risk.
- Regulating blood sugar levels: High blood sugar levels have been linked to an increased risk of dementia. Regulating blood sugar levels through medication and diet can reduce this risk.
- Not smoking: Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Quitting smoking can reduce this risk.
- Getting enough sleep: Sleep is important for brain health, and lack of sleep has been
As a behavioral neurologist and researcher, I’ve had the pleasure of studying the human brain extensively. While we don’t necessarily use only 10% of our brain’s capacity (contrary to what some movies might have you believe), there’s no denying that optimizing brain health can be a valuable step in reducing the risk of developing dementia later in life. And who wouldn’t want a brain that runs like a well-oiled machine, right? A brain that — for as long as possible — can think quickly, make smart decisions, and navigate complex situations with ease. That’s where Life’s Simple 8 comes in – a set of evidence-based lifestyle habits that can help keep your brain in top shape.
- Life’s Simple 7: https://playbook.heart.org/lifes-simple-7/
- How These Simple 7 Lifestyle Habits Can Help Lower Risk of Dementia for Women: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/how-these-simple-7-lifestyle-habits-can-help-lower-risk-of-dementia-for-women
- Can Seven Healthy Habits Now Reduce Risk of Dementia Later?: https://www.newswise.com/articles/can-seven-healthy-habits-now-reduce-risk-of-dementia-later
- Life’s Essential 8: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/lifes-essential-8