The aging brain is a shrinking brain. This is just a fact of life. When brain shrinkage is extreme, dementia may occur.
Rather bleak tidings from the Framingham Offspring Cohort study. In participants with the least amount of blood pumping through their hearts, there was almost two years greater brain aging than in participants with more robust hearts.
According to an August 2, 2010 article on emedicinehealth.com, heart health and brain health are closely intertwined. These findings did not indicate a relationship with cardiovascular disease.
As brain volume shrinks, structural changes also occur in the brain. However, signs of cognitive decline did not necessarily emerge.
This study was published in the August 10, 2010 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Lest the starkness of this research discourage you about a healthy vital old age, be reassured that you have some choice in the matter of brain aging and shrinkage due to languishing blood flow.
You can increase blood flow to your brain in some basic ways. A Eurekalert! public release from November 2, 2010 recommended drinking beet juice. Whatever your personal feeling about contact with the humble beet may be, it can do wonders for blood flow.
In the Nitric Oxide Society's peer-reviewed online journal Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry, drinking beet juice was reported to lower blood pressure, and increase perfusion (blood flow) to the brain.
Beets contain high amounts of nitrates, as do cabbage, celery, spinach, and some lettuces. Eating these vegetables enable good bacteria in the mouth to turn nitrates into nitrites. These nitrites dilate blood vessels which increases blood flow and oxygen headed for areas that are short of oxygen.
The study indicated that a high-nitrate diet increased blood flow to the areas of the brain most associated with cognitive decline and dementia. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, the study concluded, can contribute to good brain health.
Funding for this research came in part from the National Institutes of Health.
We hear about the value of moderate exercise all the time.