5 Lifestyle Factors Linked to Dementia

Alzheimers Dementia Brain Disease Concept

According to recent research, lifestyle factors including diet, exercise, and sleep can be crucial in lowering the risk of dementia.

A new study finds that inequality-related dementia risk is correlated with diet and other modifiable lifestyle factors.

New research indicates that lifestyle aspects like diet, exercise, and sleep have a significant role in lowering the chance of developing dementia, even as the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia continue to climb in the United States. According to researchers, two recent studies provide unique insights into the elements that can contribute to dementia’s disproportionate impact among non-White and low-income U.S. populations.

“Our findings support the beneficial role of healthy lifestyles in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias among senior Americans, including those with socioeconomic disadvantages and a high risk of dementia,” said Danxia Yu, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of Epidemiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the study’s lead author.

“We should recognize that it is challenging for people facing systemic and structural disadvantages to maintain healthy lifestyles or make lifestyle changes. It is critical to establish public health strategies to make lifestyle modifications achievable for all, especially disadvantaged populations.”

The results of two research were presented online by Yu and her colleagues at NUTRITION 2022 LIVE ONLINE, the American Society for Nutrition’s flagship annual meeting. The study was also recently published in Neurology, the American Academy of Neurology’s official journal.

The Southern Community Cohort Study, a long-term research project that was started in 2001 to look into the causes of numerous diseases and health disparities, is the source of the study’s findings. Around 85,000 people were recruited from community health clinics in the southern United States.  Two-thirds of participants are Black, giving the study among the highest representation of African-Americans of any large U.S. research cohort.  Researchers tracked Alzheimer’s diagnoses among participants over the age of 65 using Medicare claims data.

Examining five lifestyle factors

In the first study, data were collected from 17,209 older study participants, 1,694 of whom had forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s over a median follow-up of four years. Smoking, alcohol usage, leisure-time physical activity, sleep duration, and diet quality were all examined both individually and in combination.

The results showed that healthy choices (no smoking, high leisure-time exercise, low-to-moderate alcohol consumption, adequate sleep and a high-quality diet) were individually associated with an 11-25% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. When combined, a composite score of those five lifestyle factors was associated with a 36% reduced risk in the highest versus lowest quartile. These associations were independent of participants’ age, sex, race, education, income and underlying chronic diseases.

Analyzing dietary polyphenols

For the second study, researchers drew data from 14,500 older study participants, of whom 1,402 developed Alzheimer’s or related dementias. In this group, they analyzed intakes of four major classes of dietary polyphenols — flavonoids, phenolic acids, stilbenes, and lignans — and their subclasses, using a validated food frequency questionnaire and polyphenol databases. Polyphenols are a large class of compounds commonly found in tea, red wine, chocolate, berries, and other foods and have been associated with a variety of health benefits.

In this study, researchers found a significant difference in intake of polyphenols among racial groups, with White participants consuming a median of about twice the amount of total polyphenols as Black participants daily. Overall there was no significant association between total dietary polyphenol intake and incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in either race; however, certain flavonoids were associated with reduced risk among Black participants but not White participants. The findings showed Black participants in the top quartile for tea consumption had a 28% lower incidence of Alzheimer’s than Black participants in the lowest quartile for tea consumption.

While both studies are observational and did not assess the mechanisms behind the associations, researchers said that healthy lifestyles, including healthy eating, may help protect brain health by improving glucose and lipid metabolism and reducing inflammation and psychological stress. Yu said more research is needed to further elucidate the relationship between lifestyle factors and Alzheimer’s disease among diverse populations.

“Black Americans and people with low socioeconomic status are disproportionately affected by the disease but have been largely underrepresented in epidemiologic studies,” Yu said. “Identifying modifiable factors for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias among low-income people of different races and ethnicities is a critical public health issue.”


Reference: “Association of Healthy Lifestyles with Risk of Alzheimer Disease and Related Dementias in Low-Income Black and White Americans” by Jae Jeong Yang, Laura M Keohane, Xiongfei Pan, Ruiqi Qu, Xiao-Ou Shu, Loren P Lipworth, Kyle Braun, Mark D Steinwandel, Qi Dai, Martha Shrubsole, Wei Zheng, William J Blot and Danxia Yu, 13 June 2022, Neurology.
DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000200774

61 Comments on "5 Lifestyle Factors Linked to Dementia"

  1. This study was intentionally geared to get a wanted result. I wish science and real studies were done for real truth and answers that are based on n facts . When you have 2/3 of your study handpicked to be of a certain race, or economical means. Then you are getting a false representation of general population. You picked your participants to fit your desired result. Science needs to be put back in the practice of the sciences. The education system in America is a failure of our own making.

    • Lori Salzman | July 24, 2022 at 9:37 am | Reply

      One of the most prevalent causes for Alzheimers is genetics. This should be figured into the equation.

  2. Bradley Bidell | July 22, 2022 at 1:15 am | Reply

    There are plenty of wealthy Caucasians who suffer from dementia. Let’s stop calling diseases “racist.” Also, no where in this “article” did I see anything about lifestyle changes that can be made to reduce the risk of getting dementia. You briefly and vaguely mentioned diet and sleep, but completely failed in delivering on the title. Maybe next time do actual research and provide actual facts and ways to reduce the risk?

    • Right. And there’s plenty of studies that look at those and other populations. Are you saying science and studies shouldn’t look at subset of populations or underrepresented population? Like the elderly,the young, regions, the differently educated, etc.? If interested in that particular topic, you can search for studies of wealthy Caucasians.

  3. Have you ever been to the South Shelia? The article stated Medicaid recipiants were the sample group for this study. Thusly it makes sense that 2/3 of those sampled were African American. Look before you leap perhaps?

  4. Uh. That’s what the study WAS about. Looking at an underrepresented population in comparison to an often represented population. That’s science. It’s done in every field. It’s fundamental. Just like you would compare addiction rates in teens in comparison to adult or one region vs the other.

  5. what a dumb Trump cultist comment.

  6. Carol Johnson | July 22, 2022 at 5:24 am | Reply

    Now we have to hear about woke dementia. Sorry but once you use the word inequality in any article, you’ve lost all credibility.

    • Because… inequality is “fake news“?

      Do you really not understand that some groups are more at risk of certain diseases than others?! Do you really not grasp that at least *some* of that risk can be correlated to socioeconomic status and/or race?

      I guess we should all just close our eyes and hum loudly while pretending all Americans have equal access to medical care, healthy food, etc.

  7. Shiela, you’re arbitrarily changing the data set to the entire population when the paper clearly says it pertains to a particular group, and then wailing that the study only pertains to that small group, as though there’s some unspoken rule of science that all studies must be tailored to consider the entire planet.

    In an effort to, what? Undermine the credibility of the information gleaned from the study? Get attention for yourself? Dissuade others with questionable logic faculties from edifying their selves or think critically to deconstruct a concept on their own?

    I would encourage you to spend some time in self-reflection and ask yourself why you would attack and dismiss anything without understanding it first. Once you have an answer (spoiler: it’s usually fear), try to adjust your epistemology to recognize that you’re afraid of a thing, but the that you’re afraid of something shouldn’t be in the calculus of attempting to understand it.

    If you can get to where you can objectively separate the two, I promise you will have a much easier and peaceful life, and your knowledge will be far closer to reality than delusion and fear allows.

  8. Bingo Sheila

  9. Why are most of the authors Chinese?

  10. Actually, including more minorities in various research studies is a good way to address the problems within those communities and find solutions to those problems.

  11. Aluminum from cans and cookware has long been a cause. CFLs especially if it’s close to your head like a reading light .

  12. Ummmmm Sheila, unless your intentions are to identify the differences in the levels of dementia among different socioeconomic statuses. These studies have already been done on the general population. This is drilled down to show the effects on specific sub populations. The blatant and hidden racism in this country is concerning. Are you ok?

  13. What’s the matter don’t you like my comment? This is my 2nd try! So aluminum from cans and cookware is a problem . Also CFLs especially if they are close to your head like a reading light .

  14. Robert F Solecki | July 22, 2022 at 10:32 am | Reply

    All empirical evidence suggest easy access to fentanyl and government cheese is not the answer!!!

  15. Soooo what they’re saying is, equity is the answer to all life’s ailments? This year I’m asking Santa for an equality of outcome play doh fun factory creator!!

  16. Laughable. I’m just upset it came up in my feed.

    • Harry Makongwa | July 23, 2022 at 6:51 am | Reply

      Is this a research Paper of “Racist article to express their racist options since when a disease affects non-whites and low income populations ,what does a neuro-disease being associated with race ..

      You are spreading hate..

  17. STOP studying by race. Report only by other scientific and economic factors. No one cares otherwise

    • So when there are health disparities based on race the factors surrounding that shouldn’t be examined because folk like you are uncomfortable, yet still racist? That’s the problem, you don’t want to read, you don’t want to listen, and you want to live in the past.

  18. This “study” is BS. Not everyone will step in it 😏

  19. What total biased story!! Who in the heck wrote this article! I have been researching Alzheimer’s for the last 7 years and this article is total BS! After having someone with this horrible disease; I have been literally obsessed with research. Liberal Journalism at its finest!

  20. Our mother had dementia. A study was done and it was found the second born twin most likely will have dementia. I’m a second born twin and have it. Not only me but my older sister has dementia.

  21. Whom ever did this story should visit the rest homes and assisted living facilities where I work as an CNA.Respectfully all I work with are elderly Caucasian people with these illnesses, It’s very sad but the truth is I work with them everyday!I just wish they would find an cure regardless of race!

  22. I am a Texan and I am not racist.and Dallas just might be a name of a person as in a certain person that I know.your comment about Texans was offensive Tommy boy.

  23. Elizabeth Escamilla | July 23, 2022 at 12:25 am | Reply

    Wow Sheila you’re an idiot.

  24. I know people that have lived well into their 80’s and 90’s that smoked, drank, ate s*** food, didn’t sleep right, lived hard lives and never got dementia. There all kinds of people like that. So these tests and research are false. I know it may apply to some people but not everyone.

  25. Nice WOKE study. You guys are twisted. Get back to science!

  26. Todd Scachitti | July 23, 2022 at 4:07 am | Reply

    More pandering and propaganda based on race and “Science”
    What real doctors describe the ADDICTION Americans have with Big Pharma!
    Get off Big Pharma drugs designed to harm the body and start eat real food, drink pH balanced alkaline water, basically making your body alkaline instead of acidic by introducing intermittent fasting and you will notice immediate results!
    Facts vs Fiction

  27. For those of you who think this is just a disease delegated to one race more than another, you are so very wrong. As the study stated all of those variables can lead to dementia, but external forces can predisposition someone toward a diagnosis of dementia as well. It is not a race thing but rather a lifestyle thing. And let’s not forget about genealogy. It runs in families. And working in an ALF doesn’t mean that it is predominantly a white disease. ALFs are expensive so that means that those people who have money get to enter otherwise you stay home with a familial CG or a SNF and live there on Medicaid and Medicare. I’ve worked in hospitals, SNF, ALF, Home care and outpatient and I’ve seen many with dementia from all walks of life and many different ethnicities. And for those calling names about Trump culture, it has NOTHING to do with politics. It’s a sad and horrible disease that effects many regardless of your race, demographics, and finances unfortunately those internal and external forces can make a person more susceptible.

  28. I have come to realize ever disease is a racist…..I have also learned this week we have white food prices and white gas prices because the black community is the only ones who feel the effects of having a [email protected]$$ in office…

    • Do not throw out this study on a poorly written article. This was a large study with ton of data that is still accumulating. The snapshot of this study is: Yes, these issues are effected more by economic lifestyles than luck of the draw genetics.; Yes, people with money are less likely to great certain types and have better treatment options including earlier detection for better quality of life over the course of the illness.; Yes improving quality of medical care, less stressful lifestyles better food quality all factor into improving existing conditions, preventing some future conditions and leads a better quality of life.; Yes black Americans disproportionately live in the lowest income brackets in the US. Basically just look at cross-section of the homeless population in the US. Terrible living conditions and constant mental and physical stress all rapidly degrade their health.

  29. Caregiver to my father | July 23, 2022 at 7:15 am | Reply

    Wow. Just wow. The studies authors pulled the people studied people that they got from community Healthcare clinics… not from majority white rest homes, not from assisted living facilities, not from a totally random picking off the street. They were looking to get people representative of those Healthcare clinics. Not just a sampling exactly like everyone but those who can’t afford better treatment. In the area they picked that was a fairly high black ratio to other races. Nothing sinister there. Just in the areas they got their sample that’s what the percentages were. They didn’t hide it, they didn’t keep it quiet, they put the information in there for you to see. And they said something that you guys are twisting around like a kids calliope. There was not a racially visible difference around most things they ate that gave the food substances they measured mostly though there was a few differences including a few that help keep dementia and alzheimers from occurring. What they are trying to do is to see how they can help or if they can help people of different races with different dietary habits change those habits to help their chances. And if you’re poor you have a different set of problems in changing to a healthier diet. People in AssistEd living or rest homes where their food is prepared should be on a balanced diet esp for those people so you don’t need to change theirs. And if you’re black and live in the south, traditionally, you weren’t the person who would volunteer for studies… remember the Tuskegee study? They said nothing bad about race or that any other race was better or needed to get all the help leaving non to you poor white people. It’s like none of you bothered to read it let alone comprehend it. And this is the way science works. Hypothesis, then test your hypothesis, results then apply your results. It’s not have belief something is right, test group set up to give result, smugly note result is what I thought, flip middle finger to rest of world. I don’t know why any publication bothers to let their readers from the web post comments since it always devolves into “thees aint science because it doesn’t say what I want it to” followed by “idiot trump followers wouldn’t know science if they fell into a puddle of it”. The number of folks seriously interested in this topic who have posted anything of value shows how little anybody gains from your bickering and back and forth.

  30. The second I read the word “inequality” I already knew where this was going.

  31. Lance Dugger | July 23, 2022 at 2:03 pm | Reply

    It’s funny how reflexively protective some people are when pointing out the fact that racist ideation’s have infected even the scientific process. This article simply attempted to present results obtained in undersampled populations of the incidence of dementia and its possible dietary nexus. The fact that the population sampled was routinely eliminated from prior studies is a fact not in dispute.

  32. Fred Friendly | July 23, 2022 at 3:31 pm | Reply

    Diet, exercise and sleep? Really?! I’m not a scientist or medical professional but I could have told you that. Everything shakes out from there.

  33. The key of this read is make people to belive polyphenol is good for your health. Guess who sell polyphenols…Chinese…

  34. Denise, I agree. I also worked in a Dementia unit for 5 years, all elderly white people. Most of them were highly intelligent professionals. Scientists, bankers, engineers, professors, doctors and nurses. Devastating to see the way this disease takes a brilliant person and turns them into someone that has low to no cognitive abilities. It’s like their brains just simply gave up

  35. Oh my gosh, people. Calm the eff down. Longitudinal studies are always performed across various demographic groups. I don’t think *anyone* needs to worry that wealthy whites are underrepresented in studies about Alzheimer’s, or any other disease for that matter.

    Good grief.

  36. I dispute this claim. My mother and many others are educated, active socially, financially well off and Caucasian. Please explain why you only pigeon hole a specific ethnicity and economic profile. Just say everyone is not discriminated against. Dementia affects everyone.

  37. All studies are distorted by parameters set to meet expected or hoped for outcomes. That’s why FDA recommendations from studies funded by drug companies are all bogus. Including Covid vaccines, the biggest hose job of all.

  38. Stop Watching Me | July 23, 2022 at 8:14 pm | Reply

    At baseline visits, the data showed that 26.8% of Black participants were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or related dementias, as opposed to 36.1% of white participants.Dec 16, 2021

  39. Can’t people just take what useful information they can use from the facts presented and stop with all the racist phobias?
    I am white and found this very useful information. Stop eating junk, exercise more, stop causing problems or letting people acuse you problems and try some berries…black white or green , good advice! Thanks for the hard work put into this study.

  40. We keep talking about how its effected by things we do but, I think it comes from abuse. If we leave the environment we get sick in I bet we get better. Abused and traumatized. I’ve seen 3 woman go through it. The common factor was abuse in their life. I feel I’m headed down that same path. No one wants to consider it because that means telling people you know abusive people. I take care of myself very well, but I’m mistreated and found I loose memory after every time I’m yelled at by family.my Mother in law has it and she has been silently mistreated. No one wants to hear that though. I suffer from cpstd, research is looking the wrong way too long. In my opinion.

  41. More leftist tripe.

    • Clearly when information is over your head you label it “leftist .” Whatever that means. Why not stick to reading Mad Magazine. Clearly reading the results of social/scientific study that focuses on disparities based on race is not for you and you can help but interject your racist slant to everything that doesn’t fit your narrative. And that’s ok.

  42. I hope this doesn’t come across as being inaccurate or uneducated, but has anybody within these communities or groups received any help or support from the results of this scientific study?

    • Good question! African Americans have had a love-hate relationship with the medical community for decades. So there needs to be a lot of lifestyle education and trust building and that takes time. Judging by some of the ignorant, racist comments that are posted, it’s no wonder the US has such a dreadful healthcare system that is only slowly recognising that where we’re all human, we all are not the same and that’s ok. And yes, I am also Black American who is also a health coach.

  43. LMFAOOOO these comments are so funny

  44. Greg Millard | July 24, 2022 at 12:28 pm | Reply

    Sheila speaks rational sanity, Freg

  45. Quit reading it once it started the equality and race stuff.

  46. When there are health disparities based on race there needs to be creditable scientific research to determine why that is. I’m not understanding some on the comments that are debunking the results because the participants were primarily Black. The bottom line if ANYONE eats well, gets proper rest, engages in a serious exercise routine as they age then there’s a higher reduction of certain diseases and conditions, including dementia.

  47. African Americans are effected more than any other racial group by hypertension, cardiac disease, obesity, kidney disease, as well as certain cancers and including dementia. Some of these comments are inherently racist and ignorant.

  48. Did any African-American researchers contribute to this study? Some people say other societies consider diversity a weakness and for that very reason try to use race to sow division amongst more racially diverse societies.

Leave a comment

Email address is optional. If provided, your email will not be published or shared.