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Food, Drink and Activities That Increase Alzheimer’s Risk

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A person’s chances of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s does not seem to be static. Over time, we’ve been able to identify a few factors that can significantly raise a person’s Alzheimer’s risk. If you have any of these in your life, your risk of developing dementia can be elevated.

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    1. A high stress/low control job.A study conducted in Stockholm, Sweden identified two factors that, when they show up together, increase the risk of dementia later on. People who did not feel a high level of control in their jobs were more likely to develop dementia later on. There was also an increased risk among people who had high levels of stress.
    2. Over-the-counter sleep aids and antihistamines.Researchers published a study in JAMA Neurology that indicated that people who took drugs in the class known as anticholinergics, which includes OTC sleeping pills and sedating allergy medications, had a higher chance of developing dementia. The study did not look at the amounts taken; however, they found that risk dropped off after the study participant discontinued taking the medications.


    1. Carb-heavy foods.Researchers theorize that the increase in blood sugar brought on by eating bread, cake, sugary snacks and white rice causes inflammation that can contribute to dementia. Even whole grain breads weren’t off the hook, as they can cause the same blood sugar spikes.
    2. Beer.Some studies indicate that beer can protect against dementia due to memory-protecting antioxidants in hops. However, others indicate that the nitrites that most beers contain can contribute to Alzheimer’s risk. The answer, as with most things, is to drink only in moderation.
    3. Processed meats and cheeses.Processed meats often contain nitrosamines, which cause the liver to create fats that can be toxic to the brain. Processed cheeses can cause proteins that have been associated with Alzheimer’s to build up in the body.
    4. A sedentary lifestyle.When people do not get enough exercise, their risk of dementia goes up. Studies on rats seem to indicate that exercise improves learning outcomes and neuroplasticity, while a lack of physical activity robs you of those benefits.


  1. Smoking.Smoking two packs of cigarettes a day or more raises the risk of dementia. Researchers think that cigarette smoke increases oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which are thought to contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. People who had quit smoking or who smoked half a pack a day or less had no increase in Alzheimer’s risk.

There is no one specific that infallibly can increase or eliminate your risk of dementia later in life. But, by using the research that has been done, we can make healthy lifestyle choices that can cut our chance of dementia and allow healthy cognition throughout old age.


Primrose offers FREE community presentations about the latest research into the cause, cure, care and prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Request more information about our memory care facility or schedule a tour by calling us at 707-578-8360 or completing our contact form below.


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