Dementia affects roughly 5 million Americans and that number is expected to grow dramatically in the next few years, according to Braintest. The good news is there are ways to reduce the risk of dementia and it starts with diet and exercise. A new set of guidelines just released in a report Tuesday by The World Health Organization highlighted things you can do to help prevent dementia.

“In the next 30 years, the number of people with dementia is expected to triple,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. With dementia affecting 50 million people around the world, and with nearly 10 million new cases appearing each year, the time to act is now.

“We need to do everything we can to reduce our risk of dementia,” Ghebreyesus continued. “The scientific evidence gathered for these Guidelines confirm what we have suspected for some time, that what is good for our heart, is also good for our brain.”

The report, which is close to 100 pages, identifies various lifestyle adjustments that can be made in an effort to reduce the risk of dementia. These includes regular exercise, not drinking and smoking and adopting a healthy “Mediterranean-like” diet.

Maintaining a healthy weight is another preventative measure identified in the report as well as managing blood pressure. Social activity is also important to maintain overall well being and the report states: “Social disengagement conversely, has been shown to place older individuals at increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.”

The WHO explained dementia is an illness that affects memory, thinking, learning, and judgment. It is the result of other diseases and injuries that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke, but prevention is possible through an integrated public health approach.

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