How does eating cranberries and maintaining your walk speed reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease? More than you might think.
What Your Walk Speed Reveals About Your Health
The signs that healthcare professionals use to determine the state of your physical and mental health can be surprising. One of the more unexpected signs of a decline in health is your gait including the speed of your walk.
A slower walk often signals frailty. Recent studies in elderly adults reveal that a slower gait may also point to a decline in cognitive health. A shrinking in the right hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with cognitive function, may cause this decline.
It’s important to note that not all signs of cognitive decline indicate a later diagnosis of dementia. Only about ten to twenty percent of people ages 65 and older with mild cognitive impairment later receive a dementia diagnosis. However, a new, large study of 17,000 older adults revealed that people who walked about five percent slower each year while also showing signs of cognitive decline are more likely to receive a dementia diagnosis later on.
Can Cranberries Lower Your Risk of Dementia?
Health experts predict that around 152 million people will receive a dementia diagnosis by 2050. The battle to fight this prediction includes hundreds of studies on the role of diet, exercise, and overall physical health in the development of dementia and other cognitive health diseases. These studies include research on specific foods and their impact on cognitive function. The University of Anglia in the UK recently conducted a study on one of the world’s favorite superfoods–cranberries–and how they may improve cognitive health.
For twelve weeks, researchers served half of the study’s participants a freeze-dried cranberry powder while the other half received a placebo. The focus of this study was how cranberries affected brain function and cholesterol levels. Lead researcher, Dr. David Vauzour, revealed that “participants who consumed the cranberry powder showed significantly improved episodic memory performance in combination with improved circulation of essential nutrients such as oxygen and glucose to important parts of the brain that support cognition — specifically memory consolidation and retrieval.” Additionally, cranberries were found to be impactful in reducing high LDL cholesterol.
We’ve said it numerous times before and we’ll repeat it again as many times as needed. Your diet and exercise are two of the most important factors affecting your long and short-term health. You can improve your risk of future physical and mental health diseases simply by making smart, healthy eating choices and getting regular exercise or physical activity, at least 20 – 30 minutes a day. Walking is one of the best exercises for your overall health and it’s one of the easiest workouts you can do on a daily basis. And now that you know that your walk speed is a sign of how healthy you are, you can check in with your primary care provider if you notice a change in your gait. Early detection is the key to slowing the progression of any disease and living a longer, healthier life.