Sauna To Protect Your Brain

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Now this is a medical study I can really get behind!  Woot!

I LOVE HEAT.

And I love love love anything that boosts circulation — like grounding, sauna, steam room, hot baths, sleeping with a hot water bottle, massage, exercise…

 

…it just feels intuitively right to get your blood flowing, don’t you think?

 

Turns out there are lasting benefits to getting your brain circulation boosted through heat specifically… having regular sauna bathing decreases risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease!

Researchers had previously discovered that men who used a sauna two or more times a week had significantly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and death, and reduced risk of all-cause mortality (meaning they died less from all causes put together) than men who used a sauna once a week or less.

Because they found out that folks who routinely use a sauna lived longer, researchers turned to look at cognitive function, to see if this longer life had an improved quality to it.

Turns out it does.

 

The Study (published in Age and Ageing Dec 8, 2016):

  • Researchers followed more than 2,300 patients who had a healthy baseline and used a sauna on 4 or more times a week
  • Participants were 42 to 60 years old at baseline (average age: 53 years old)
  • Sauna temperature was 80 to 100 degrees C and humidity was routinely added by throwing water on hot rocks in the sauna.
  • Participants were followed for an average of 20.7 years

 

 

The Results

  • Patients who averaged 4 to 7 trips to the sauna a week were two-thirds less likely to develop dementia over the next 20 years (a 66% decrease in dementia)
  • Patients were also two thirds less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease (AD) during the 20 year follow up (a 65% drop in AD diagnosis)
  • This risk reduction was independent of any known risk factors, including body mass, age, smoking status, alcohol consumption or previous heart attack.

 

The Bottom Line:

Over a 66% reduction in dementia risk of all types, including Alzheimer’s, is better than any single treatment, dietary modification, supplement or medication known to date!

This is HUGE news!

This is a very easy to recommend lifestyle intervention that preserves memory function and protects us from developing memory diseases!

So, not only does sauna help you live longer (avoiding heart disease and all-cause mortality) but it also helps you avoid dementia and memory loss disease.

 

Researchers hypothesize that increased time in the sauna helped increase vascular perfusion of the brain, increasing endothelial function and reducing inflammation.

Other holistic things you can do to increase blood perfusion throughout your body and reduce inflammation is:

  • routinely ground your body (shown to immediately increase capillary perfusion and decrease blood viscosity and reduce blood inflammatory markers over time)

 

We know that blood flow to the brain helps to prevent dementia… look at this interesting study that is not very well known:

Turns out, if you have high blood pressure that occurs after age 80, the increased pressure helps perfuse the brain better and helps actually protect against dementia.

More than 550 patients with an average age of 93 years old were followed for over 2 1/2 years and the results were published in Alzheimers & Dementia, Feb 2017.

In this study, patients who developed hypertension between the ages of 80 and 90 years old actually had a 42% lower risk of dementia than elderly without hypertension…

…and those who developed hypertension after age 90 actually had a 63% lower risk for dementia!

This is the first study looking for links between high blood pressure and dementia in the elderly, and shows that the onset of age matters here.

This advanced elderly population is actually the fastest growing segment of the population in the US and in many other countries in the world.  While hypertension increases dementia risk in mid-life, late in life this boost to blood pressure actually helps to preserve brain function and decrease dementia risk.

 

But today’s article shows there is a healthier and more enjoyable way to preserve brain function and boost perfusion to the brain —

–hit your local sauna regularly!

That… I can do.

xoxoxo, Laura

 

Looking for more ways to save your brain?

I’ve got you covered.  Read these other brain supportive articles I’ve written: