Men who marry intelligent women are less likely to develop dementia later in life, according to mental health experts.
Professor of mental health in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, Lawrence Whalley, discussed this groundbreaking discovery at the Oxford Literary Festival Thursday in a talk titled “Dementia: How Can We Protect Ourselves?”
“The thing a boy is never told he needs to do if he wants to live a longer life – but what he should do – is marry an intelligent woman,” Whalley said, according to TV3. “There is no better buffer than intelligence.”
According to the Oxford Literary Festival website, dementia affects nearly 35 million people worldwide, with 7.7 million new cases each year. But Whalley and others have determined through a series of studies that keeping the brain active with intellectual stimulation can help to ward off the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
In the past, research has indicated that activities like crosswords, reading and visiting museums can help to reduce one’s risk of developing the condition, but Professor Whalley asserted that a partner who challenges and intrigues could play an even more significant role.
Whalley also noted the shocking effect the loss of a family member early on could have on an individual’s mental health years down the road.
“Studies have shown that the death of a mother before the age of five is a very important risk factor for dementia in later life,” Whalley explained.
By contrast, good parenting as a child, education and a stable childhood environment all have the potential to work against the factors that contribute to dementia.
Professor Whalley was joined Thursday by dementia expert Professor Margaret Rayman, who teaches nutritional medicine at the University of Surrey. Rayman spoke on how healthy living habits can reduce the risk of dementia. In her book, “Healthy Eating to Reduce the Risk of Dementia,” Rayman and a team of nutritional experts share 100 recipes and guidelines for dementia prevention. Rayman suggested vitamin B13 for adults over 50 to keep mental health sharp.
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