Diet and exercise can lower Alzheimer's risk

Diet and exercise can lower Alzheimer's risk

Eat Right: Mediterranean-style diets are good for the heart and brain, finds study. GETTY IMAGES

Now, a new study has found that the effects of the two lifestyle behaviors are independent of one another — and together, they add up.

The Columbia University study followed a diverse group of 1,880 septuagenarian New Yorkers, assessing their diets and levels of physical activity, and screening them periodically for Alzheimer’s disease. After an average of five years, 282 cases of Alzheimer’s were diagnosed.

Those who followed the healthiest diets were 40 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those with the worst diets, and those who got the most exercise were 37 per cent less likely to develop the disease than those who got none. The greatest benefits occurred in those who both ate healthfully and remained active. Participants who scored in the top third for both diet and exercise were 59 percent less likely to receive an Alzheimer’s diagnosis than those in the lowest third.

“It’s a bigger effect, because each of the behaviors is independent and each is contributing something unique,” said Dr Nikolaos Scarmeas, an associate professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center and the first author of the paper, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.