Increasingly, researchers are noting a connection between poor health in middle age and a higher risk of dementia later on in life. Unlike some other aging conditions, dementia may be offset or prevented by improving health during the middle age years. In other words, what you do now can help or hinder your cognitive abilities later on. This is exciting news because it allows people to take steps now to help ensure a healthy condition in the future. Here are some middle age health issues that should be addressed as soon as possible.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure has been linked to a host of health concerns. However, it’s only recently that researchers have detected a very real connection between vascular conditions such as high blood pressure and dementia later on in life. Those with borderline high blood pressure have a 31% greater risk of developing dementia. High blood pressure can be treated with diet and lifestyle changes, as well as medication in situations where other modifications aren’t working.

Smoking

Smoking is a known cause of cancer, but it’s also a health risk that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease. When you smoke, the vascular system is also affected, leading to a temporary increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, that increase can become permanent, putting you at risk for dementia in the future. In fact, in recent studies, middle-aged smokers had a 41 percent higher risk over non-smokers. There’s no easy way to quit smoking, but wearing a nicotine patch may help.

Drinking

New guidelines have advised middle-aged people that there is no safe level for drinking alcohol. Alcohol has been shown to be a risk factor that can lead to increased likelihood of developing dementia. Alcohol is essentially empty calories, and it contains an abundance of sugar. Through the body’s metabolism, drinking leads to unhealthy internal conditions that inhibit essential processes from taking place. Alcohol can prevent the absorption of essential vitamins and nutrients, which can lead to malnutrition, a compromised immune system, and an inability of the body to repair itself. If you are interested in changing your lifestyle to avoid dementia, quitting drinking or cutting back drastically is a smart way to begin. One way to lower your alcohol intake is to substitute a glass of water in between every alcoholic beverage. This will help you feel fuller as well as keep you rehydrated.

Obesity

When so many in the word are obese, it’s easy to make excuses for being severely overweight. But what researchers have learned may give you the motivation to start reducing your weight. Obesity in middle age is one of the key health indicators that dementia is in your future. Obesity is caused by the intake of too many calories compared to energy expenditure. This condition leads to fat storage, as well as secondary health issues. If you suffer from obesity in middle age, you’re more likely to have dementia in old age. To get off this track, consider consulting with a dietician, trainer or nutritionist to get your weight back in a healthy range before it’s too late.

If you want to put time on your side, start in middle age to improve your health. This information that poor middle age health may increase your risk of dementia is valuable and timely. It’s not too late to make changes. Lower your blood pressure, stop smoking and drinking, and reduce body weight. Begin a healthy exercise regimen today to give your body all the chances possible to avoid the devastating condition known as dementia.