Cut out these dementia risk factors

Dementia prevalence has been increasing in Singapore.

In 2005, there were roughly 22,000 dementia sufferers aged 65 and above. This number is set to hit 187,000 by 2050.

These figures from Singapore's Alzheimer's Disease Association are worrying, but all is not lost. Change these lifestyle choices to slash your risk.

Being overweight

Individuals with a high body mass index (BMI) have an increased risk of developing dementia compared to those who are of normal weight.

These results were published in the Alzheimer's & Dementia journal. Each five-unit increase (roughly 14.5kg for someone 1.7m tall) in BMI was associated with a 16 per cent to 33 per cent higher risk of getting the disease.

One theory is that excess body fat can lead to changes in the brain that make it more susceptible to degeneration.

Being sedentary

When you work out, your body's levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) increase. This protein helps improve long-term memory.

In a study in the journal Jama Neurology, researchers found that participants who had an increase in BDNF had a 33 per cent lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's.

Eating "bad" carbs

In a study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, researchers monitored the diets of 937 elderly volunteers and found that those who filled up on carbohydrate and skimped on fat and protein had a higher risk of developing dementia.

Load up on nutrient-packed carb options such as brown rice but keep your intake to less than half of your daily caloric count.

Proximity to traffic

Being exposed to pollution is detrimental to health as it causes widespread inflammation in your body, including your brain.

Results from a study published last year found that participants who lived within 50m of roads with heavy traffic had a higher likelihood of developing dementia compared with those who lived more than 300m away from busy roads.

If you live in such an area, keep windows closed during peak periods and use an air purifier.

Your single status

New research shows that lifelong singles had a 42 per cent higher risk of getting dementia compared to married people.

Researchers think this could be because singletons may feel lonelier and be more susceptible to depression, both of which are risk factors for dementia.

Have your mental health taken care of by surrounding yourself with loved ones.

Having sweet tooth

Drinking artificially sweetened soft drinks is associated with an increased risk of getting ischemic stroke, dementia and Alzheimer's, according to findings in the journal Stroke.

In the study, participants who regularly consumed such drinks were also at a higher risk of diabetes, a known risk factor for dementia. - DAWN CHEN