A new study reveals that a simple breathing technique, performed for just 20 minutes twice daily, could reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease. The study, published in Nature Journal, found that when study participants performed a guided breathing program, which involved inhaling and exhaling to a count of five, levels of amyloid beta peptides in their bloodstream decreased by the end of the four-week study period.
According to HuffPost, these peptides are associated with Alzheimer’s disease and some experts believe that they are the main cause of the degenerative illness. Our heart rate is affected by how we breathe, and slow, rhythmic breathing helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which influences the way our brain produces and removes proteins.
The study was the first of its kind to study how behavioral patterns influence the reduction of amyloid beta peptides and shows promise for a future, low-cost Alzheimer's treatment. Half the 108 participants were aged 18 to 30 and the other half were 55 -80. The results were similar in both age groups.
Dr. David Merrill, an adult and geriatric psychiatrist and director of the Pacific Neuroscience Institute’s Pacific Brain Health Center in California says that amyloid beta peptides are the suspected “bad guys” in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. They may be produced in the body due to stress, says Medical News Today. If so, it would make sense that relaxation breathing would lower the levels.
“Even better would be mitigating the stressors in the first place. Healthy body, healthy mind,” Merrill said. While the study participants used a biofeedback unit to monitor their heart rate during the breathing exercises, experts say that in the real world, a device may not be needed.
“In the study, a computer-based device was used to guide the biofeedback sessions,” said Dr. Martin J. Sadowski, a professor of neurology at NYU Langone Health in New York. “However, it is possible to train individuals to perform the biofeedback without guidance. An accumulation of amyloid beta peptides in the brain is an incredible protracted process. It remains to be determined how long to continue the biofeedback intervention to achieve a clinically meaningly effect on reducing disease risk.”
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