That includes getting enough exercise; treating other health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol; having an active social life, and avoiding or curbing harmful habits such as smoking, overeating and drinking too much alcohol.
The WHO recommends practices that are already associated with a healthy lifestyle: exercising regularly, eating healthy, and laying off tobacco and alcohol.
Dementia is a broad category of diseases that reduce brain function beyond what might be expected from normal ageing.
Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer disease or stroke.
Dementia is a rapidly growing public health problem that affects around 50 million people globally, according to the WHO, with almost 10 million new cases coming up every year.
"As numerous risk factors for dementia are shared with those of non-communicable diseases, the key recommendations can be effectively integrated into programmes for tobacco cessation, cardiovascular disease risk reduction and nutrition". This is the first time the organization made an official recommendation on the condition, which affects 50 million people globally.
"While some people are unlucky and inherit a combination of genes that makes it highly likely they will develop dementia, many people have the opportunity to substantially reduce their risk by living a healthy lifestyle", Tara Spires-Jones, a professor at the University of Edinburgh and program leader at the UK Dementia Research Institute, told the Science Media Center Tuesday.
"The total costs of dementia in sub-Saharan Africa were an estimated 6.2 billion USA dollars in 2015, with two-thirds to three-quarters of the total costs attributed to informal care", it said.
The guidelines issued by WHO on Tuesday "provide the knowledge base for health-care providers to advise patients on what they can do to help prevent cognitive decline and dementia".
The guidelines are designed for use by healthcare providers and also for governments, policy-makers and planning authorities.
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