Many of us assume that as we age we lose brain cells or fail to make new ones. But this isn’t completely true! In fact, the pool of new neurons in the aging brain remains reasonably intact. The real issue is that the tiny capillaries that bring food and nutrients to brain cells often become compromised in older people. In other words, an older person makes and maintains just as many neurons as a younger person, but these neurons aren’t receiving the nourishment they need to function well.
Critical to brain nourishment is blood flow. The steady movement of blood through tissues and organs—blood flow, also called circulation—is initiated by the heart ventricles, which contract and pump blood through our arteries and veins. Why is blood flow so important? Well, when blood flow is healthy it means that more oxygen, nutrients, vitamins, minerals and energy-producing glucose are getting to the brain unimpeded. In addition to delivering important nutrients, healthy blood circulation also carries away the not so nice stuff our brains don’t need, such as carbon dioxide, toxins and metabolic waste. You might think of healthy blood flow as a clear, free flowing river. When our blood becomes viscous (think of a river that is clogged by leaves, mud and other debris), it is thicker, stickier, and doesn’t move as quickly or as efficiently.
But how does blood flow impact how our brain functions on a daily basis? Quite a lot. It can mean the difference between a brain that works well and one that is sluggish, slow and susceptible to serious health issues later in life. In spite of the fact that it weighs so little, the brain receives about 20% of the total blood supply in the body. This means that healthy blood circulation is critical to how well our brain performs certain functions, from remembering to learning new tasks to making good decisions. A new study reveals that older adults with brain health issues had significantly reduced blood flow into the brain compared with young adults or older adults with normal brain function. In brains where remembering and reasoning have weakened, those tiny capillaries that feed brain cells just aren’t getting the nutrients they need to function well, and this is largely due to poor blood flow. In addition to compromising daily brain function, poor blood flow can literally spell cellular death in the brain.
Ways To Increase Blood Flow
1. Get Moving
Although there are some underlying health conditions that can cause poor blood flow, a lot of it comes down to lifestyle. If you want to increase blood flow to the brain, the first thing to do is get moving. A sedentary lifestyle stops blood flow at the gates. In a 3-month study of 16 women age 60 and older, brisk walking for 30-50 minutes three or four times per week improved blood flow to the brain as much as 15%. To be most effective this exercise needs to be moderate to rigorous and it needs to activate the cardiovascular system. Do it at least 30 minutes a day and preferably out of doors, as exposure to the sunlight also increases blood flow.
In addition to regular cardio exercise, other activities have been shown to promote healthy blood flow, including meditation and mentally stimulating activities such as playing an instrument or learning a new language.
To further increase blood flow, these life choices are critical:
• Stop smoking
• Lose weight
• Find ways to lower your stress
• Limit your coffee intake
• Reduce your consumption of sugar and salt
• Eliminate trans fats from your diet entirely
2. Targeted Supplementation
To make sure all your bases are covered, you should also consider supplementation, which can give you that added insurance when you aren’t always able to exercise or eat right. Several herbs and spices have been identified as reliable blood flow boosters. Ginkgo biloba, Vinpocetine, acetyl-l-carnitine, turmeric, ginger, taurine and Vitamin C and Bs consistently show up on lists related to natural ways to improve circulation and they are found in many of Procera's brain health supplements.
Product Recommendation: Procera Advanced Brain
Hours and hours of research and a number of clinical studies went into the development of Procera Advanced Brain, Procera’s best selling brain support supplement. In addition to delivering important ingredients like Phosphatidylserine that support cell membrane composition and function, Procera Advanced Brain contains the plant extract Ginkgo biloba, which has been used for hundreds of years as a way to improve circulation. Certain compounds in Ginkgo dilate blood vessels, which in turn increases blood flow throughout the body, including to the brain.