For years, doctors have urged people to embrace healthy behaviors as a way to fight Alzheimer’s. A recent study suggests that healthy living helps prevent not only Alzheimer’s, but memory problems in general. The study, a collaboration between the UCLA Longevity Center and the Gallup Poll, found that “the more healthy lifestyle behaviors that were practiced, the less likely one was to complain about memory issues.”

Researcher Fernando Torres-Gil explained how the study included phone interviews with almost 19,000 participants, aged 18 to 99, who were polled on their lifestyle behaviors as well as their perceptions of their own memory, and how the researchers were surprised that the younger people were less likely to practice healthy behaviors. These behaviors, which include eating healthfully, exercising, and not smoking, were self-reported as more practiced among those aged 60 to 99.

The main discovery of the study was that the more healthy behaviors a person practiced, the less likely they were to report having memory problems. The results are quite dramatic – one healthy behavior resulted in a 21% lower risk, two behaviors were linked with a 45% lower risk, and three behaviors were linked with a 75% lower risk of memory problems. Those people who participated in more than three healthy behaviors had a 111% lower risk of experiencing memory problems.

These results were not linked solely to older participants – younger and middle aged respondents both reported memory problems, and those demographics also experienced the benefits of healthy behaviors. So if you’re worried about current or future memory problems, don’t rely just on crosswords and brain teasers – eat well, stop smoking, and get exercising!

The article was published in an academic journal; you can read the abstract with methods and conclusions at