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Dementia Su b
It’s a thing we all worry about these days, as we get older, and it’s now overtaken heart attacks as a major cause of death in the UK.

That’s partly because more of us are living into old age, of course. But just like late-onset diabetes, dementia is quite strongly linked with various lifestyle factors.

It’s not possible to say ‘Avoid this and you won’t get dementia’, because so many factors are involved, but it is possible to reduce your own personal risk. Here are some of the things you can do:

1. Eat a ‘rainbow diet’. Dementia is an inflammatory condition, and anything that reduces inflammation will help. That means fruit and vegetables, especially brightly coloured ones, oily fish, and a minimum of refined carbohydrates and sugar. Anti-inflammatory herbs like Ginkgo, Rosemary and Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) can help too.

2. Get exercise. A moderate amount every day boosts your circulation and helps oxygenate your brain. If it’s outdoors, it’s more stimulating just because you are in a changing environment.

3. Keep learning. If you keep stretching yourself intellectually, you are less likely to lose brainpower. Staying inside your comfort zone is a good way to make it smaller.

4. Sleep well. Even in old age, we need plenty of sleep, and our cognitive faculties are lowered when we don’t get enough. ‘Wind down’ properly at the end of the day; don’t eat too late or look at screens before bed.

5. If you don’t get outside much, a vitamin D supplement may be a good idea, especially in winter. There is quite a strong association between severe deficiency and dementia.

6. Manage your stress levels. Chronic stress can erode your ability to function in all sorts of ways. Herbs like Scullcap, Passion Flower and Vervain may be helpful here.

7. Socialise. Spending time with friends, talking and laughing and listening, is a good thing for all sorts of reasons. All too often, elderly people spend far too much time alone, and friends are good for the soul as well as bringing colour to your life.

What does it boil down to? Basically, having a good life. Not living life in the fast lane too much of the time, but not staying in the slow lane either. As always, balance is the key.

EDITOR: Su has an excellent Herb Handbook available to buy directly from her website or from Amazon.

Meet The Author...
Su Bristow
Who Am I?
I studied at the School of Herbal Medicine for four years, and qualified in 1989, becoming a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (www.nimh.org.uk.) The road to herbal medicine led from my early interest in organic gardening and healthy eating, through the study of social and physical anthropology at Cambridge, where I specialised in medical anthropology. What fascinated me was how people deal with their health problems when they have only the natural resources around them, and their own ingenuity. I went on to learn massage and reflexology, and worked at a residential naturopathic clinic, where I learned about the use of diet and other natural ways of healing. After qualifying as a herbalist, I set up practice in mid-Devon. Since then I have continued to expand my expertise, with counselling skills, first aid, and knowledge of the Chinese and Ayurvedic systems of herbal medicine. Besides one-to-one consultation, I have also taught evening classes, students of the Westcountry Massage Association, and various private courses.
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