Doing This in the Morning Quadruples Your Dementia Risk, Study Says

Starting off your day this way could increase your odds of cognitive decline.

Everyone has their set routine for starting their day. Some jump straight into the shower to freshen up. Others like to get in an early workout. Plenty of people also might need a cup of coffee first thing before they get moving. If anything, the first things we do after waking up are usually some of the more mindful or healthy activities we do all day long. But research has shown that a specific morning habit could potentially be increasing your risk of dementia. Read on to see how starting your day on the wrong foot could be quadrupling your odds of cognitive decline.

RELATED: Your Dementia Risk Doubles If You've Had This, New Study Says.

Skipping breakfast in the morning can make your risk of dementia four times higher.

A senior couple eating breakfast and smiling

In a 2011 study published in the Japanese Journal of Human Sciences of Health-Social Services, researchers selected 525 elderly adults aged 65 years or older from a farming community near an urban center in Japan to examine links between particular lifestyle characteristics and dementia. Participants had follow-ups over the course of six years to collect health data from each person.

The results did find some associations, especially when it came to eating habits. After adjusting to account for risk factors such as age and sex, data showed that those who didn't eat breakfast in the morning were four times more likely to develop dementia than those who did.

Snacking and not monitoring salt intake also doubled someone's risk of dementia.

a variation of unhealthy snacks

But it wasn't just skipping your first meal of the day that could increase your odds of cognitive decline. The results also showed that participants were 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia if they weren't mindful of their salt consumption, 2.7 more likely to develop the degenerative condition if they snacked regularly, and 2.7 times more likely to be diagnosed if they didn't maintain a well-balanced or nutritious diet.

"According to our results, several lifestyle habits were associated with dementia," the authors concluded. "Appropriate interventions are required for high-risk individuals, including those with mild cognitive impairment [MCI]."

RELATED: For more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Experts say you can reduce the risk of dementia by following certain dieting guidelines.

people eating outside, mediterranean food on table
SolStock / iStock

It's far from a secret that what we eat can immediately affect our health. But when it comes to dementia specifically, research has shown that certain dieting habits can go a long way in reducing someone's risk of developing the condition.

The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet was developed as a hybrid between the often touted Mediterranean-style diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet used to treat high blood pressure. According to the Mayo Clinic, the eating pattern involves a high intake of "natural plant-based foods while limiting red meat, saturated fat, and sweets" and has even been shown to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by 53 percent.

The diet suggests eating three servings of whole grains a day and green leafy vegetables at least six times a week, with other vegetables added in at least once daily. It also suggests eating berries at least twice a week, fish once weekly, poultry twice weekly, five servings of nuts each week, and beans at least three times per week. It's also less restrictive than a traditional Mediterranean diet by limiting red meat consumption to less than four times per week but advises against fried or fast food anything more than occasionally. Similarly, you should swap out butter for olive oil in cooking, cut down to less than one serving of cheese a week, limit yourself to less than five sweets or pastries weekly, and stick to one small glass of wine per day.

Research has found drinking too much coffee can also increase your risk of dementia.

Hands hold the cups with coffee and tea in the morning. Happy mother, father and son having breakfast in the kitchen at home. Family, eating and people concept. Top view.

Still, other recent research has shown that skipping breakfast isn't the only morning habit that can increase your risk of cognitive decline. A team of researchers conducted a study recently published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience looking to see if coffee consumption could be associated with brain health, including the risk of stroke or dementia. To test their theory, the team gathered a group of 17,702 participants between the ages of 30 and 37 from the U.K. Biobank.

Researchers then compared brain imaging on file with the amount of coffee consumed each day by participants. Results found that those who drank more than six cups of coffee a day were 53 percent more likely to develop dementia.

Researchers also noticed that those who went heavy on the brew saw a significant physiological effect from overindulgence. "Accounting for all possible permutations, we consistently found that higher coffee consumption was significantly associated with reduced brain volume," Kitty Pham, the team's lead researcher and a PhD candidate at the University of South Australia, said in a statement. "Essentially, drinking more than six cups of coffee a day may be putting you at risk of brain diseases such as dementia and stroke."

RELATED: Drinking This Makes You 3 Times More Likely to Get Dementia, Study Says.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
Filed Under
 •  •  •  •