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We know that slimming down and moving more can have huge benefits for your physical health and wellbeing, but did you know that maintaining a healthy weight could also help to reduce your chances of developing dementia?

Some studies suggest that being overweight may be a risk factor for dementia, alongside getting older and poor cardiovascular health. While there’s no proven way to fend off the disease, there’s a lot you can do to give yourself the best possible chance of being fit and well as you age:

  • Eat a healthy diet. Research shows that eating fruit and vegetables which are high in antioxidants and lowering our cholesterol levels by cutting down on saturated fats could help protect our brain cells from the damage associated with Alzheimer’s.
  • Try to be more active. There is evidence that increasing your activity levels is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing dementia.
  • Drink less alcohol. Consuming more than the government-advised 14 units per week, spread over three days or more, can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
  • Quit smoking. Lighting up can make you 30-50% more likely to develop dementia, and increases your risk of stroke, which is also associated with the disease.

We understand that, without support, taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle can be very challenging. This Dementia Awareness Week, if you’d like to put any of the above advice into action, here are some simple steps you can take…

Click here to find your nearest Slimming World group

4 ways to reduce your dementia risk

Eat a healthy diet

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The Alzheimer’s Society recommends eating a balanced diet to reduce your risk of dementia. That includes:

  • Five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • Two high protein foods (oily fish, eggs, meat and pulses) per week
  • Starchy foods like bread, pasta and potatoes

The good news is, if you’re Food Optimising your meals will already fit into this dietary advice. In fact, the British Nutrition Foundation found that the average Slimming World member actually eats six portions of fruit and veg a day. Food Optimising also encourages you to cut down on foods that are high in sugar and saturated fat, like chocolate and biscuits, by counting them as Syns.

FIND OUT MORE: Five ways to eat more fruit and veg

Try to be more active

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As well as reducing your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes – all major risk factors for dementia – studies show getting active improves your memory and mood. Exercise is also hugely beneficial for your overall health and for the best results, go for a mixture of cardio activities – ones that get your heart beating faster, like brisk walking and dancing – and some muscle-strengthening workouts, such as yoga, push-ups and gardening.

Slimming World members can follow our Body Magic programme, which is designed to help build activity into your life in a way that works for you, whether you’re just starting out or looking to step it up with something more challenging.

FIND OUT MORE: What is Slimming World Body Magic?

Drink less alcohol

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Heavy drinking is linked with high blood pressure and stroke, which are risk factors for vascular dementia, and in the long-term can lead to alcohol-related dementia and permanent memory loss.

One key to reducing your alcohol intake is to know your tipping point – the point at which drinking alcohol tips us into drinking (and eating) far more than we ever intended. You can find more information about identifying your ‘tipping point’ in our blog post, along with some simple swaps and strategies to help you cut back, or quit drinking altogether if that’s what you’d like to do.

Quit smoking

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Research suggests stopping smoking reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer’s, and it’s never too late to quit. You can find stop ‘smoking services’ in your area and helpful tips on how to quit on the NHS website.

It’s a common concern that giving up cigarettes inevitably means piling on the pounds – however, it is possible to manage your weight while you quit. A recent study showed that some smokers who joined Slimming World were even able to lose weight while stopping. Ask your local Consultant for the Stop Smoking And Still Lose Weight leaflet for more information.

FIND OUT MORE: 10 snacks to help you curb hunger pangs – plus our quitting tips

You’ll find lots more information about dementia on the NHS website. If you or someone you know is worried about becoming increasingly forgetful, particularly if they’re older than 65, talk to your GP.

Slimming World proudly supports Alzheimer’s Research UK

We’re thrilled to announce our newest charity partner for 2022, Alzheimer’s Research UK. We’ll be supporting this brilliant cause by donatng money from every sale of a Slimming World recipe book, to help fund life-changing dementia research.

Slimming World proudly supports Alzheimer’s Research UK

We’re thrilled to announce our newest charity partner for 2022, Alzheimer’s Research UK. We’ll be supporting this brilliant cause by donatng money from every sale of a Slimming World recipe book, to help fund life-changing dementia research.

You can find out more about our charity partnerships, including this new partnership and our ongoing work to support Cancer Research UK and the Irish Cancer Society here.

If you feel that losing weight could benefit your long-term health, you’ll be warmly welcomed at one of our local groups or on our friendly online community:

Find your local group

Go digital with Slimming World Online

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