Dementia is a devastating disease — made worse by the fact that it sneaks up on you slowly. It steals your ability to take care of yourself and wipes out your memories before you’re even aware it’s happening.
By the time my friend’s husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he was already having trouble completing day-to-day tasks and had been forced to take an early retirement.
The risk of Alzheimer’s increases as you age.
Although dementia has become an epidemic in our country, getting the disease is not inevitable.
In fact, we only have to look to the people of Finland for a super easy (and relaxing) way to dramatically lower our dementia risk.
Here’s the scientific proof…
The more, the better
The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD), a monster study of more than 2,000 men living in eastern Finland over a period of 20 years, found a very interesting common denominator among those who managed to avoid dementia and Alzheimer’s…
You read that right!
You probably already know that spending time in a sauna is a popular Finnish pastime. But the scientists discovered that this enjoyable way to sweat the toxins from your body came with big perks — the more often you do it, the lower your chances are of ever ending up with dementia and losing your memory.
In fact, based on their sauna-bathing habits, the study participants were divided into three groups:
• Those taking a sauna once a week
• Those taking a sauna 2-3 times a week
• And the 4-7 times a week sauna bathers
They found that those who sweated it out in a sauna at least four times each week had a 66 percent lower risk of dementia and a 65 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s than the once-a-weekers.
Just by spending 10 minutes or so in a sauna four days a week, you can reduce the risk that you will lose the ability to take care of yourself or remember your loved ones by at least 65 percent.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the researchers also found that frequent sauna bathing delivers other benefits as well, like:
• Decreased risk of sudden cardiac death
• Lower risk of death from coronary artery disease and other cardiac event
• And even lowers your overall mortality risk (your risk of dying from all causes)
Not bad, right?
But how does sauna bathing protect your brain from Alzheimer’s and dementia?
Well, according to the researchers there’s not really a definitive answer but they think it’s probably a threefold mechanism.
First, it allows your body to sweat out toxins that could be damaging to your brain and nervous system.
Second, it boosts your heart health which has been shown to help your brain function better as well.
And third, the sense of well-being and relaxation you get when you just chill out (or sweat it out) in a sauna may also play a role.
More brain health help
On top of sauna bathing, you can also improve the health of your brain in order to reduce your dementia risk by:
• Exercising — Exercise makes every part of your body healthy, including your brain so get out there and move. Your goal should be at least 30 minutes per day three to five days a week.
• Supplementing — The most important supplement for brain health is phosphatidylserine (pronounced “foss-fah-tie-doll-sir-een”). This nutrient is the key building block for billions of cells in your brain and acts like brain food. In fact, 64 studies have proven that it is one of the single best nutrients for rejuvenating your mind and memory.
• Improving your sleep — Quality sleep gives your brain time to rest and repair while impaired sleep can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s. Shoot for at least eight hours per night and establish a regular sleep schedule.
• Staying connected — Loneliness can lead to depression and poor cognitive function. Maintain healthy social relationships to boost your brain health.
Dementia rates may be increasing but your risk doesn’t have to. Hit the sauna at least four days a week, exercise, get rest, stay social and feed your brain with phosphatidylserine to optimize your brain function and your memory.