How to Increase Blood Flow to the Brain

Three Methods:Exercising to Increase Blood FlowUsing the Breath to Improve Blood FlowChanging Your Diet

The brain uses about three times as much oxygen as the muscles do. Oxygen is vital to brain function, and brain healing. Optimal brain function relies on a healthy blood flow. There are a number of different methods you can use to increase the amount of oxygen-rich blood that flows to your brain.

Method 1
Exercising to Increase Blood Flow

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    Exercise regularly. All aerobic activity has positive effects on circulation and health. One research study concluded that moderate exercise improves blood circulation to the brain in older women.[1] Walk for 30–50 minutes at a brisk rate of speed, three or four times per week.
    • The results of the study indicated as much as 15% higher blood flow to the brain.
    • Many studies suggest a connection between exercise and overall brain health, though there's no definitive research suggesting that that increased blood flow may prevent or reverse cognitive decline.
    • Aerobic activity is any physical activity that causes you to breathe harder, and raises your heart rate. Swimming, bicycling, dancing, and even sex are all aerobic activities. Find one that best suits your lifestyle, and engage in it with enthusiasm!
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    Take short walks throughout the day. It's not necessary to commit to a lengthy exercise session to reap the benefits of walking. Taking short walks will also help increase the blood flow to your brain. Even a walk of three to five minutes will have a positive effect on your blood's circulation.
    • Use a timer throughout your day to remind yourself to take walking breaks. If you work at a desk, schedule short walks.
    • Take advantage of naturally occurring opportunities to walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park at a distance from your destination. Get off the bus or train before your exit, and walk the remainder of the route.
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    Stretch during the day. Stretching improves overall circulation, and prevents stiffness in the joints and muscles.[2]Set aside a few minutes every hour to stretch your body.
    • Stretching increases blood flow to the muscles. While it's not possible to truly "stretch" your brain, by enhancing blood flow throughout your body, circulation will improve and increase.[3]
    • Simple stretches that result in increased blood flow to the brain include touching your knees or toes from a standing position. Alternatively, sit on a clean area with your legs outstretched, and touch your knees, shins or toes from this seated position. Be careful not to do anything that causes pain or discomfort in your back.
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    Do yoga. Yoga poses often encourage putting the head below the heart. This directly benefits blood flow to the brain.[4] Simple inversions include simply laying on the floor, perpendicular to a wall. Scoot your body forward so that your legs are resting on the wall, and your buttocks is close to or touching the wall.
    • More advanced inversions include raising your body above your head in a headstand or handstand. You may practice doing this by using a wall to help your balance. Remember, yoga should never be painful. Work with a trained yoga practitioner for more advanced inversions.
    • Inversions don't have to be vertical. Plow pose and fish pose are both poses that directly benefit the blood flow to the brain. Plow pose stimulates the thyroid, increasing blood flow to the brain. Fish pose stimulates the neck, throat and brain.

Method 2
Using the Breath to Improve Blood Flow

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    Breathe through your nose. Engage your diaphragm, in your abdominal area. This is also called "belly breathing." Breathing deeply moves the air and oxygen down into the lower areas of the lungs where most of the circulation of blood is.
    • Air entering through the nose enters the sinus cavities, oral cavities, and the upper part of the lungs. Breathing through the mouth will lessen the exposure to freshly oxygenated air.
    • Breathing with the diaphragm results in more oxygen entering this blood.
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    Meditate. Heartbeat and breathing slow during meditation. Often, meditation includes more conscious, even guided breathing.[5]Deep, even-paced breathing will increase the saturation of oxygen in the blood.
    • Conscious breathing helps to relax the shoulders, chest, and neck muscles that may be interfering with blood flow to the brain.
    • Meditation has had proven positive effects. It lowers a person's stress levels, increases their ability to focus, and strengthens the immune system.
    • There are many ways to meditate. An easy way to begin meditation practice is simply to sit comfortably, eyes partially or completely closed, and count your breaths. When you have counted 10 breaths, start over. Continue to focus your entire attention on counting your breaths. When other thoughts enter, simply notice them, and let them go. Start over again at one.
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    Quit Smoking. Nicotine restrict arteries, which prevents healthy blood flow to the brain. On the other hand, the brain's oxygen uptake and blood flow decreases by up to 17% immediately after people stop smoking.[6]
    • Smoking has been linked to strokes and brain aneurysm. An aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel caused by a weakness in the blood vessel wall.
    • E-Cigarettes contain nicotine, which constricts blood vessels and lowers the blood flow to the brain. They are not recommended as a substitute for ordinary cigarettes.[7]

Method 3
Changing Your Diet

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    Eat more chocolate. Studies suggest that the flavonoids found in cocoa beans may increase blood flow to the brain.[8] Flavonoids can also be found in red wine, red grapes, apples and berries. Teas, particularly green or white teas, are another excellent source of flavonoids.[9]
    • Make sure that your overall caloric intake remains within healthy limits. Increasing fat or sugar levels to your daily diet may have negative consequences.
    • Research on the beneficial effects of flavonoids is still preliminary.
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    Drink beet juice. Drinking beet juice has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain.[10]Beets contain nitrates, which are converted to nitrites by naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth. Nitrites help to widen blood vessels, and help increase blood flow to the brain.
    • Nitrates are also found in celery, cabbage, and other green, leafy vegetables.
    • Eating fruits and vegetables high in nitrates is recommended for optimal brain functioning. Converting these foods into juices is the quickest way to ingest a therapeutic dose.
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    Include "superfoods" in your daily diet. Nuts, seeds, blueberries, and avocados are sometimes called "superfoods" for their high nutritional value. Research suggests that consuming these foods has a positive effect on maintaining a healthy brain into old age.[11]
    • Walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews and other nuts are excellent sources of Vitamin E. Deficits in Vitamin E have been linked to cognitive decline. You can eat them raw or roasted. Unhydrogenated nut butters maintain their high nutritional content.
    • Avocados are high in monounsaturated fat, which has been linked to increased blood flow to the brain. Monounsaturated fat helps to reduce bad cholesterol from the blood, and leads to lower blood pressure.[12] Avocados also provide nutrients to help improve your overall health.
    • Blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress, which deteriorates brain functioning. Eating one cup a day of blueberries — fresh, dried, or frozen — has been shown to increase brain functioning.
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    Consider nutritional supplements. Ginkgo Biloba has long been used to increase blood flow to the brain. Ginkgo also protects the nerve cells that are thought to be damaged in Alzheimers.[13]
    • Ginkgo should not be given to children. Studies done using ginkgo with adults have ranged between 120–-240 mg per day.
    • Ginkgo is available in tablets, capsules, liquid extracts, and dried leaves for herbal tisanes.

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Categories: Alternative Health