Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Healthy habits in college can help delay Alzheimer’s

As college students in the early stages of life, it’s easy to live by the mantra “party now, worry later.” But what if our lack of regard affects us more than we think?

“I believe as college students we often times feel like we’re invincible to different health problems,” said Sheena Quizon, assistant director of health education and prevention at the University of Alabama.

She said if something isn’t seen as an immediate risk, students are less likely to make its prevention a priority.

However, according to the British Journal of Cardiac Nursing, dementia affects one in 14 people over the age of 65. The American Journal of Public Health also noted that, on average, individuals with the most serious mental illnesses died at age 53.

According to an article by Time magazine, a 65-year-old has a 10 percent risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

This means in less than 50 years, each UA student could face severe memory loss, disorientation and impaired motor skills. What’s worse, you may not even notice it’s happening.

Fortunately, there are measures to take now that could slow or prevent mental diseases.

According to the AJPH, mental and physical health are intimately related.

Students can begin avoiding risk factors like smoking, obesity, substance use and inadequate access to medical care to ensure mental health in the future.

The British Journal of Cardiac Nursing also linked high levels of alcohol consumption with cognitive impairment. In contrast, the study noted that moderate alcohol consumption – one to three drinks per day –was associated with reduced risk of dementia.

Furthermore, a healthy diet low in sodium and saturated fats lowers the risk of dementia.

Quizon said eating a balanced diet now as a college student and continuing to practice healthy dietary habits can only positively affect us both physiologically and mentally.

“I think there is a natural tendency for health to take the ‘back-burner’ to academics, as students must transition to a lifestyle that forces them to manage their own schedules,” she said. She noted that while it’s important for students to grow academically, they must also learn to execute a lifestyle that will make them successful health-wise later on in life.

Additionally, many researchers believe actively engaging the brain will help lessen the risk of future mental disease.

“It’s kind of like if you don’t go to the gym your arms get flabby and muscles get really weak,” said Daniel García, a fourth year medical student at the University of Ohio. “The same thing applies to your brain.”

The factors we hear of in relation to prevention, like crossword puzzles and active minds, correlate to cognitive impairment associated with normal aging, not Alzheimer’s disease, Garcia said. According to Time, for this disease with no cure, these therapies only delay the onset of memory loss, confusion, and cognitive decline.

García said that although Alzheimer’s disease is most often associated with memory loss, the symptoms also include shakes, psychotic symptoms and loss of bladder control and neurological functions.

Jessica Smith, a sophomore majoring in chemistry, said the history of mental disease in her family makes her worried that she’ll suffer as well.

However, she said she often reads and completes crossword puzzles, so she isn’t as worried as she could be.

As for Alzheimer’s, the current lack of a cure doesn’t faze her.

“I’m hopeful because there are lots of drugs being tested that will be in the market by the time I’m that age,” she said.




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