Boost Your Blood Flow, Get Your Memory Back

BRIGHT MINDS: BLOOD FLOW

Do you find yourself forgetting your keys? Spacing out on why you walked into a room? Losing your train of thought mid-sentence? If you answered yes to any of these questions and you’re also a couch potato, there is one important strategy that could put you on the path to improved recall.

The secret to a better memory? Moving more.

Aerobic exercise provides greater blood flow to your brain, especially to the hippocampus, a region that’s crucial to memory. A 2017 study in 51 healthy men and women, ages 18-35, found that those who had the highest fitness levels had a firmer, more elastic hippocampus and scored the best on memory tests.

The secret to a better memory? Moving more. Aerobic exercise provides greater blood flow to your brain, especially to the hippocampus, a region that’s crucial to memory. Click To Tweet

BLOOD FLOW AND THE BRAIN

Healthy blood flow is crucial to your brain—and to your whole body. It transports nutrients, including oxygen, to every cell in your body and flushes away toxins. Even though your brain, which weighs about 3 pounds, makes up only 2% of your body’s weight, it uses 20% of the oxygen and blood flow in your body.

Exciting new research in Human Brain Mapping dispels the long-held belief that our brain cells age quickly; rather, it is the blood vessels that feed our neurons that are aging faster. If you want to keep your brain healthy, your mind sharp, and your mental health strong for as long as possible, you need to protect your blood vessels.

If you keep your blood vessels healthy, you may be able to avoid not only memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, but also a host of mental health issues (see below) as well as physical problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and erectile dysfunction, among others. You’ll also have a lot more energy and you’re less likely to be overweight.

BRAIN HEALTH PROBLEMS OF LOW BLOOD FLOW

Anything that damages your blood vessels or impairs blood flow hurts your brain. Brain SPECT imaging studies reveal that low blood flow is related to many behavioral and psychiatric issues. SPECT is a type of brain imaging study that measures the brain’s blood flow and activity. Low blood flow seen on SPECT has been seen with:

In fact, research in Nature Communications shows that low blood flow is the #1 brain imaging predictor that a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease.

11 WAYS EXERCISE PROTECTS MEMORY

Here are some of the many ways physical exercise enhances brain health and protects memory:

  1. Helps increase the size of the hippocampus, the Holy Grail of any memory enhancement program, according to the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and several other studies.
  2. Protects the hippocampus from stress-related hormones, like cortisol, which normally shrinks it. Even leisurely walking has been shown to increase the size of the hippocampus in women, according to findings in Hippocampus.
  3. Stimulates the production of growth factors, such as BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factors), which nurture stem cell production.
  4. Stimulates “neurogenesis,” the ability of the brain to generate new neurons
  5. Decreases the formation of beta-amyloid plaque, clumps of protein found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Journal of Neuroscience.
  6. Improves cognitive flexibility, as shown in 2015 research in Current Biology.
  7. Improves mood, which is important because research shows depression has been linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  8. Enhances insulin’s ability to lower high blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of diabetes. In some scientific journals, Alzheimer’s has been called “type 3 diabetes.”
  9. Allows for greater detoxification through sweat, which is critical because toxins in any form damage the brain and increase the risk of memory problems and dementia.
  10. Improves the quality of sleep. Some scientific research suggests that sleep disturbances may be a predictor of Alzheimer’s.
  11. Improves immunity. Several studies have found immune system dysfunction in dementia.

WHICH EXERCISES ARE BEST FOR YOUR BRAIN?

Racquet sports are particularly beneficial. A 2016 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that followed more than 80,000 adults found that those who played tennis, table tennis, squash and other racquet sports had the lowest risk of dying during the nearly decade-long research. Swimming and aerobics are good choices, too. And if you walk, just be sure to keep up the pace to get the most benefits.

MORE WAYS TO BOOST BLOOD FLOW

In addition to physical exercise, there are many other ways to improve your blood flow, including treating high blood pressure, cholesterol, or other vascular problems, and avoiding cigarettes and caffeine, which constrict blood flow to the brain. Here are more easy, beneficial moves:

  • Hydrate better! Drinking at least 5 glasses of water a day could decrease your risk of hypertension
  • Drink more green tea
  • Limit salt intake
  • Take a good multivitamin/mineral, vitamin D, magnesium and an omega-3 EPA/DHA supplement daily
  • Support your memory with ginkgo biloba extract
  • Enjoy an ounce of dark chocolate every day (for the cocoa flavanols)
  • Eat more beets, green leafy vegetables, berries, pumpkin seeds, and cayenne pepper
  • Increase your intake of foods high in magnesium, such as avocados, nuts, and seeds
  • Eat more foods loaded with potassium, such as spinach and sweet potatoes
  • Limit alcohol, fruit juices, and sodas (including diet sodas)
  • Sleep 7 to 8 hours a night, and if you have sleep apnea, get it assessed and treated
  • Try hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), a simple, non-invasive, painless treatment with minimal side effects that use the power of oxygen to enhance the healing process. Before-and-after SPECT scans of people who have undergone HBOT reveal remarkable improvement in blood flow.

Blood flow is so important, it is the first risk factor in the Amen Clinics Memory Rescue BRIGHT MINDS Program, which identifies and treats the 11 risk factors that can steal your memory and your mind. Preventing and treating these risk factors is the best way to keep your memory sharp for the rest of your life.

We are available for in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.

4 Comments

  1. Which product of yours helps blood flow?

    Comment by Rita Shields — December 28, 2017 @ 8:59 AM

  2. Are there any additional steps you would recommend for anyone that has suffered from a stroke?

    Comment by Ruth Allan — November 10, 2018 @ 12:02 AM

  3. I have been rear ended 4 times. Once at very high speed. I am 57 years old. The only vice I have is coffee. I am an avid runner, 50 km/week. I find myself sometimes struggling to remember basic words. Is this normal? I workout alit. Is there anything else I can do?

    Comment by Lucy Preisler — March 5, 2019 @ 5:29 AM

  4. Why do i forget what i learn after i l
    earn

    Comment by Ethel Eduah — February 13, 2020 @ 8:09 AM

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