According to over 30 years of brain scans by the Amen Clinics using Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) imaging, low blood flow is the #1 brain imaging predictor of future Alzheimer's Disease.
Studies by the Amen Clinics show that Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can be seen on SPECT scans years before people have any symptoms. SPECT imaging is a leading indicator of future problems. Consequently, it can be used proactively to help reduce the risk of debilitating conditions such as Alzheimer's disease from occurring. It has the potential to help reduce the number of occurrences and whole life cost to the health service of these age-related conditions. In contrast, anatomical studies, such as CT and MRI, are lagging indicators, showing problems later in the course of the illness, when interventions can be less effective.
In the absence of such capabilities in the UK to help tackle the growing problem Alzheimer's disease, here are five scientifically proven steps you can personally take to help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by improving blood flow to your brain.
The picture in this blog is of my mum, Paula, at the top of her first mountain, Harrison's Stickle in the Lake District, climbed in May 2018. My mum, aged 74 years young at the time, suffers from high blood pressure. She has been able to take back control of her wellbeing and achieve her dream of climbing a mountain and is proactively seeking to help limit her risk of Alzheimer's disease by following these five simple steps.
Reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol. Both these drinks decrease blood flow to your brain. Excessive consumption of either drink and your brain will start to look like a block of Swiss cheese, with the holes showing decreased blood flow. Alcohol is also linked to seven different types of cancer. Focus on drinking at least five glasses of water a day. Those that drink over five glasses of water a day have been shown to half the risk of hypertension compared to individuals that consume fewer than two glasses a day.
Focus on eating foods that help keep your blood pressure healthy. This includes eating more plant based foods. Limit your diary intake, which some scientists say can affect your Blood Brain Barrier (BBB), the protective membrane between the blood vessels and brain tissue. Eat more foods with blood-pressure lowering effects, such as broccoli, spinach, celery, chick peas and mushrooms.
If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is over 25 (visit https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/bmi-calculator/), take action to reduce your weight. Regular exercise can help keep blood vessels flexible and open and helps to boost nitric oxide, which is important neurotransmitter in memory storage. It also boosts serotonin, which enhances your mood, and dopamine, which helps with motivation.
If you suffer from any medical conditions, speak to your health practitioner before taking on any new exercise routines. The recommended NHS guideline for exercise each week is at least 150minutes.
There are four types of exercise that you can do to help boost blood flow to your brain. These are:
Burst training - Several surges of intense activity lasting 30-60seconds. If you want to start simply, put a burst in when you walk to work or the shops for 30-60seconds, walking as if you are late.
Strength training - Weight training. Focus on both the lower body and upper body, with two sessions of 30-45mins per week a day or two apart. The stronger you are as you age the less likely you are to get Alzheimer's disease.
Coordination activities - Such as dancing, table tennis, climbing or martial arts. This helps increase the activity in the cerebellum, which is involved with physical and thought coordination.
Mindful exercise - Such as yoga or tai chi. These exercises have been found to reduce anxiety and depression and increase focus and energy. Also consider exercise that helps your brain learn new things, such as learning a new language.
These include Omega-3 fatty acids in a recommended ratio of 60/40 EPA/DHA. Omega-3 fatty acids also help increase working memory, executive function and boost your mood. Supplements such as Vitamins C and D, magnesium and potassium have also been shown to lower blood pressure.
Focus on getting between seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If you are concerned that you struggle with sleep apnea, get it assessed and treated.
Would you like to find out more about how you can take back control of your wellbeing, optimise your health and reduce the risk of having health issues over the long term? Visit www.ruthmaryallan.com/workwithme to learn how you can work with me for either adult or child coaching.
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