Alzheimer’s disease affects millions of people worldwide. While currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, researchers are constantly looking for ways to slow down or prevent its progression.
In a recent study published in Scientific Reports, researchers investigated the possibility of preventing Alzheimer’s disease through a simple breathing exercise. The results were remarkable and promising.
Breathing exercises have long been used as a relaxation technique, and their benefits are well documented. But this is the first study to show that breathing exercises can have a direct effect on the level of amyloid beta peptides in the blood.
Amyloid beta peptides are protein fragments that can clump together and form sticky plaques in the brain. The accumulation of these plaques is a hallmark feature of Alzheimer’s disease. The presence of amyloid beta peptides in the blood has been associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Breathing and the Link to Alzheimer’s Disease
The study, which was done at USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, researched individuals who practiced slow breathing twice a day for 20 minutes over a 4-week period. The result was reduced Alzheimer’s-related amyloid proteins in the blood. Another group did not do the breathing exercises and it resulted in an increase of amyloid beta peptides.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Helen Lavretsky, said, “Our findings suggest that potentially improving respiratory regulation may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease in older adults. The findings also demonstrate that there are things that we can do to potentially reduce our risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”
While this study is a promising step forward, more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between slow breathing, HRV biofeedback training, and the level of amyloid beta peptides in the blood. However, the fact that a simple behavioral intervention can have such a significant effect on this biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease is encouraging. It suggests that there may be simple steps we can take to reduce our risk of developing this devastating condition.
But there are even some more reasons why you should consider practicing breathing exercises: Slow, deep breaths does more than relieve tension and help you relax. This practice also reduces stress and anxiety, improve sleep and improves focus and concentration.
The exercise in the study was simple: inhale for a count of five, then exhale for a count of five. Do that for 20 minutes, twice a day, for four weeks. We can use this simple and safe technique to keep amyloid beta peptides levels low, which could help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Add this exercise to your daily routine. While it’s nice to have a quiet place to meditate and breath, you can practice it anywhere, even while watching tv. Some smart phones and watches can be set to remind you to breath but you can also set an alarm on your phone if you need to be reminded until it becomes a habit.