Want to reduce the risk of memory loss? Study says meditation may help

In the U.S. According to the CDC, yoga and meditation are used by around 35 million adults each.

A new study has examined research that shows practicing spiritual fitness and meditation may reduce several risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from Tucson, Arizona-based Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation and Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University have made a discovery. They found that a new medical concept that focuses on psychological and spiritual wellbeing and the 12-minute meditative practice of Kirtan Kriya can have an advantageous effect on cognitive performance in general.

“The key point of this review is that making a commitment to a brain longevity lifestyle, including spiritual fitness, is a critically important way for aging Alzheimer’s disease-free,” said Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa of the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation and Dr. Andrew B. Newberg of the Department of Integrative Medicine and Nutritional Sciences, Department of Radiology, Marcus Institute of Integrative Health at Thomas Jefferson University. “We hope this article will inspire scientists, clinicians, and patients to embrace this new concept of spiritual fitness and make it a part of every multidomain program for the prevention of cognitive disability.”

The researchers published their findings in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

In the U.S. last year, up to 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease, the Centers for Disease Control reported.

In the new research, the authors discuss how spiritual fitness, which blends basic, psychological and spiritual wellbeing, can affect brain function and cognition.

Psychological wellbeing, for instance, could decrease disability, inflammation and cardiovascular disease. It’s notable that people who have a high “purpose in life” (PIL) score are more than twice as likely to be free from Alzheimer’s than individuals with a low PIL. Another study saw participants who reported greater PIL levels showed better cognitive function. PIL also protected people with existing pathological conditions and slowed their decline.

Despite stress management tips being under-discussed in terms of Alzheimer’s treatment, the authors say there’s an abundance of evidence that shows how it can increase the risk of developing the disease.

Kirtan Kriya, a 12-minute singing meditation involving four sounds, breathing, and repetitive finger movements, has several registered effects on stress. It includes boosting wellbeing, decreasing depression and sleep improvements. Additionally, it’s been found to increase blood flow to areas of the brain connected to cognition and emotional regulation. For long-term practices, it may also slow aging in the brain by building the volume of grey matter and decreasing ventricular size. Healthy individuals have been shown to have a boost in mood, cognition and slowed-down memory loss, research shows.

“Mitigating the extensive negative biochemical effects of stress with meditation practices, in tandem with the creation of heightened levels of spiritual fitness, may help lower the risk of AD. Small shifts in one’s daily routine can make all the difference in AD prevention,” Newberg and Khalsa conclude. “We are optimistic this article will inspire future research on the topic of spiritual fitness and AD.”

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