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Complex Work May Ward Off Alzheimer's

Feeling a little overwhelmed by the complexity of your job? Take comfort in new research that suggests mental exercise might help protect you from Alzheimer’s in years ahead.

recent study from the University of South Florida involving more than 10,000 elderly twins found that those individuals with complex jobs – particularly involving social interaction such as teaching, management, negotiations or customer relations – had a 22% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Of course, you don’t need a complex job to exercise your brain. Another study from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden involving 776 men and women age 75 or older found that those who kept their minds active (e.g. reading or doing crossword puzzles) while also maintaining an active social life (e.g. traveling to visit family or friends) reduced their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by about 30%, compared with socially isolated, inactive elders.

Such findings provide a measure of hope as we mark National Alzheimer’s Disease Month this November. With an estimated 4.5 million Americans now afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease – a number anticipated to triple by 2050 according to the Alzheimer’s Association – it’s important to start taking steps today to maintain mental acumen in later years.

In addition to exercising your brain and your body, proper diet is essential to managing your risk. As discussed in previous DNN’s, aim to eat more antioxidant-rich fruits (e.g. blueberries and strawberries), vegetables (such as leafy greens and cruciferous veggies) and fish rich in omega-3’s. Avoid empty calories as excess weight can increase your risk of early dementia.

Published November 21, 2005

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