Protecting Your Brain Health: Top Risk Factors for Dementia and How to Tackle Them


Curious about how to keep your brain sharp as you age?

Recent research has identified key risk factors for dementia, and the findings might surprise you.

In this post, we’ll dive into the top risks for cognitive decline and what you can do to protect your brain health.

Think It’s Just Genetics? Think Again!

New research shows that while genetics play a role, modifiable lifestyle factors significantly impact brain health, too.  In a study involving brain scans of 40,000 UK Biobank participants over the age of 45, researchers examined 15 categories of risk factors for dementia, including smoking, sleep, weight, and exercise.

Researchers discovered that the top three modifiable risk factors most affecting vulnerable brain regions were diabetes, traffic-related air pollution, and alcohol intake. These factors contribute to the deterioration of specific brain areas responsible for cognitive functions like memory, attention, and executive tasks.

Why These Findings Matter

Understanding these risk factors is crucial because it means you have the power to take steps to protect your brain health. Here’s a closer look at each of these top risks and what you can do to mitigate their impact:

  • Diabetes:
    • Managing blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and medication can reduce the risk of diabetes-related brain health issues.
  • Traffic-Related Air Pollution:
    • Minimize exposure by staying indoors on high pollution days and using air purifiers at home.
  • Alcohol Intake:
    • Limiting alcohol consumption can significantly decrease the risk of cognitive decline.

Fun and Practical Tips to Boost Brain Health

  1. Eat a Brain-Healthy Diet:
    • Incorporate foods rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Think berries, nuts, leafy greens, and fatty fish.
  2. Stay Physically Active:
    • Regular exercise helps maintain healthy blood flow to the brain and supports cognitive functions.
  3. Prioritize Sleep:
    • Ensure you get quality sleep each night to allow your brain to rest and repair.
  4. Engage in Mental Activities:
    • Challenge your brain with puzzles, reading, and learning new skills.
  5. Socialize:
    • Maintaining social connections can boost your mental health and reduce the risk of dementia.

Inspired to take proactive steps towards better brain health?

Follow us for more tips and insights on living a healthier, longer life.  Check out our other posts and start your journey to optimal health today!


Manuello, al (2024). The effects of genetic and modifiable risk factors on brain regions vulnerable to ageing and disease. Nature Communications, 15, Article 2576.

Written by Onna Lo MD June 2024

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