You’re at the mall and you forget where you parked the car. Or you accidently stand your best friend up for lunch because you completely forget about your date.
When you’re younger, it’s easy to laugh these little brain burps off. Blame them on being too busy, or tired.
But at some point, “senior moments” stop being a joking matter. And if you’re no spring chicken anymore, like me, you may already be starting to worry about memory loss and the “A” word.
Experts estimate roughly 50 million folks worldwide suffer from Alzheimer’s. And the disease frankly has had scientists stumped. But researchers just made a stunning discovery which could change everything.
According to the new study published in the journal Neurology, the key to protecting your brain may lie in your HEART of all places.1
Low blood flow could trigger memory loss
The research, led by Vanderbilt University scientists, found that older folks whose hearts are a bit on the sluggish side could be at a much higher risk for developing memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
In fact, the volunteers whose hearts weren’t pumping as effectively had brains that acted as if they were 15 to 20 years older than they were. And most importantly, they had reduced blood flow to the temporal lobe an area in the brain that’s key to memory.
The findings are so significant because these folks were probably a lot like you and me. They hadn’t had a stroke and weren’t suffering from heart failure or the extreme memory loss of dementia. And fewer than half of them had even started to experience the mild cognitive impairment that’s so common with aging.
Yet low, but still normal, blood flow from their hearts triggered abnormal changes in the brain that could put them on the fast track to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Which means the same thing could be happening to you or me.
Boost blood flow to shave decades off your brain age
But as frightening as this new finding seems, it’s actually an incredible opportunity in disguise. Because it has revealed a powerful tool which we can add to our arsenal to fight this devastating disease.
Boosting your blood flow so your brain gets all the oxygen and nutrients it needs could slash decades off your brain age. And it could be the key to protecting your precious memories for many years to come.
And the good news is we already know some things we can do that can help boost blood flow, starting with exercise.
Research has revealed that when we exercise blood flow increases all over our body, including in our brain. Which means our brain is getting more of the fuel it needs to function.
So if you’ve been putting off starting an exercise routine until you can make it your New Year’s resolution don’t. Get off that couch now.
And don’t worry if you’re not a fan of the gym, any kind of movement that gets your heart pumping counts. Need some extra motivation? Check out our special report No sweat tricks to get started (and stick) with exercise.
And our 5 easy and effective exercises for out of shape beginners are great for folks who need to ease back into things.
3 foods to eat your way to better blood flow
But exercise isn’t the only way you can improve circulation. Following are three diet tricks that could help you bump up your blood flow and protect your brain at the same time.
1. Snack on walnuts:
A study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition found that walnuts, which are rich in omega-3s and tocopherols, could help protect your blood vessels paving the way for better blood flow.2
When the lining of your blood vessels stop working as well as they should, blood flow can get backed up. But the study, which compiled data from 10 different trials, found a link between regularly eating walnuts and significantly better blood flow.
Snack on a handful of delicious walnuts a day. Or try adding them to veggies or stir fries.
2. Savor more basil:
Basil is brimming with magnesium a proven heart helper. Magnesium helps your blood vessels and muscles relax, which naturally leads to better blood flow and improved blood pressure.3,4,5,6
You can add fresh organic basil to soups, salads, sandwiches and all kinds of savory dishes to support healthy circulation.
3. Spice it up with garlic:
Experts say garlic naturally relaxes blood vessels, increasing blood flow.7,8 A growing stack of studies has documented this delicious herb’s potential to help battle heart disease and high blood pressure by promoting better circulation.
Try adding fresh organic garlic to soups, stir fries, chicken, pork or beef dishes and veggies. Or simply mix it with some extra virgin olive oil and spread on whole grain or sweet potato toast.
To get the most out of your garlic crush it and allow it to sit at least ten minutes before using. Or try taking a garlic supplement instead.
Protect your brain, and your precious memories, with these blood flow boosting tricks.
1. “Lower cardiac index levels relate to lower cerebral blood flow in older adults,” Neurology. 2017 Nov 8.
2. “Effect of nut consumption on vascular endothelial function: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials,” Clin Nutr. 2017 Apr 20
3. “Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2012) 66, 411–418 (2012)
4. “Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Blood Pressure A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials,” Hypertension. 2016
5. “The effect of magnesium sulfate on cerebral blood flow velocity, cardiovascular variables, and arterial carbon dioxide tension in awake sheep,” J Neurosurg Anesthesiol. 1999 Apr;11(2):96-101
6. “Effects of antenatal magnesium sulfate treatment on cerebral blood flow velocities in preterm neonates,” J Perinatol. 2014 Mar;34(3):192-6. doi: 10.1038/jp.2013.182
7. “Garlic supplementation increases peripheral blood flow: a role for interleukin-6?,” J Nutr Biochem. 2004 Jan;15(1):30-6
8. “Potential of garlic (Allium sativum) in lowering high blood pressure: mechanisms of action and clinical relevance,” Integr Blood Press Control. 2014; 7: 71–82