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Reducing early-onset dementia risks

Sep. 23, 2013 @ 12:20 AM

When you look at the cover of a magazine in the grocery store (and the picture isn't Dr. Oz), do you ever mutter, "Who's that?" It could just be a matter of generational "Star Gaposis." Your granddaughter couldn't pick Barbra Streisand out of a lineup, and you haven't a clue about who Amanda Bynes is. But there are specific memory lapses that indicate you are at risk for early-onset dementia (before age 65). Not being able to name famous folks that you once recognized is one indicator. In a recent study, people with early-onset dementia recalled the names of only 46 percent of once-familiar celebrity faces.

Another study identified factors in teenage boys that lead to early-onset cognitive problems: drug abuse, depression, high blood pressure, having a father with dementia and poor mental function. Having two of those traits -say, high blood pressure and depression -makes a teen 20 times more likely to develop dementia before age 65. But, young or not-so-young, you can take positive steps to protect your brain.

Keep your cardiovascular system healthy. Physical activity (10,000 steps a day) and stress reduction (meditate 10 minutes two times a day) build brain size, keep neural connections healthy, and lower blood pressure. So does eliminating the Five Food Felons - no trans or saturated fats, no added sugars or sugar syrups and no grain that isn't 100 percent whole.

Build new neural pathways. Increase brain strength with a new hobby, reading, playing intriguing games, staying engaged and interacting with people. Now you're thinking.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.

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