A group of scientists said a simple breathing technique could help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Participants in one study were asked to inhale for five seconds and then exhale for another five seconds and did this simple breathing exercise for 20 minutes twice a day for four weeks.
These short 20-minute breathing sessions had a significant impact as participants had increased heart rate variability and bloodstream levels of beta-amyloid peptides had dropped significantly by the time the four weeks of the experiment had passed.
These peptides have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease for many years, and some experts believe they may be the cause of this devastating degenerative brain disease.
The new study was conducted by scientists at the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California and the full results have been published in the journal Scientific Reports.
The study could be the first to discover how adults, young and old people can lower beta-amyloid levels through breathing exercises that reduce blood levels of these Alzheimer’s-associated peptides.
Our heart rate can be affected by how we breathe, which in turn can affect our nervous system and how our brain makes and removes proteins.
While awake and on the move, people typically use the sympathetic nervous system, often referred to as the “fight or flight” system, which regulates a number of non-visual processes in the body, including concentration and memory creation.
While the sympathetic nervous system is activated, there is no significant time difference between each heartbeat.
In contrast, when the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, the heart rate increases with inhalation and decreases with exhalation.
The parasympathetic nervous system is also known as the “relax-digestive” system (that is, when the body is at rest), which helps us stay calm, sleep well, and digest food easily.
In younger years, our bodies can usually easily switch between these two systems, and this switch becomes more complex with age, as access to the parasympathetic nervous system becomes more difficult and heart rate changes with age.
However, if you are not in good physical shape, your heart rate variance will decrease significantly.
In fact, a 2020 study using smartwatches found that heart rate variability decreases by an average of 80% between the ages of twenty and sixty, which may partly explain age-related sleep problems.
Professor Mara Mather, director of the university’s emotion and cognition laboratory, said: “We know that the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems influence the production and excretion of peptides and proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease. changes with aging are promoted by factors that make it favorable for Alzheimer’s disease or not.