A daily crossword could protect you from Alzheimer’s

Playing online puzzles like crosswords and wordsearch could help your brain stay young and reduce your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease, according to scientists.

Dementia affects around 640,000 people in England alone and Alzheimer’s disease is responsible for nearly 62 per cent of cases. It can alter a person’s memory, behaviour and even personality.

Head injuries, a family history and lifestyle factors such as smoking, being overweight or high blood pressure are all linked to the progressive condition and it is most prevalent in the over-65s.

But while there is no cure, making key lifestyle changes can help prevent the onset of the disease.

And according to scientists, unfamiliar stimuli and new mental challenges – like puzzles, crosswords and sudoku – can stimulate neuron growth in a key area of the brain.

It is thought that spending 15 minutes a day doing a crossword, sudoku or another puzzle could be beneficial.

One US study concluded that people who keep their minds active throughout their lives have lower amounts of a protein that forms the beta amyloid plaques which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

Other large epidemiological studies have also found an association between doing puzzles or reading and a lower risk of developing the disease.