You may want to keep yourself from having too much crispy pata or from smoking that next stick of cigarette, especially if you’re above the age of fifty, as a recent study posted on says that in addition to the cognitive effects of aging, high blood pressure and nicotine may cause damage to the brain.

Researchers from King’s College London used data from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA), which is a nationwide health survey of over 8,000 adults. For this study, participants’ blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body mass indices (BMIs), and smoking habits were recorded and monitored. They were then given follow-up exams that measured logical thinking and memory performance after four years, and later, after eight years.

Results showed that smoking had the greatest impact on cognitive performance, as participants who continued the habit had low scores on the follow-up exams after only four years. On the other hand, those with high BMI showed poor performance on memory exams, while those with high blood pressure and higher stroke risk didn’t do well in any of the tests.

The good news is that you can always change your lifestyle early on in order to avoid these cognitive complications. You don’t need to wait until you’re in your 50s to take care of your body. While you’re young, eat well, exercise regularly, and try to let go of any bad habits. You may not see the benefits right away, but rest assured that you’ll pat yourself on the back for a job well done in time.

(Photo by Claudia Gold via Flickr Creative Commons)

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