Can Slow Breathing Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

Mindfulness has been a growing practice, with more people realizing the benefits of taking a moment to pause in the busy day-to-day life. One way people can practice mindfulness is with the practice of slow breathing. Even a few minutes of slow, concentrated breathing can have benefits.

According to the BBC, “Recent scientific research has shown that, while quick, shallow and unfocused breathing may contribute to a host of problems, including anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure, cultivating greater control over our lungs can bring many benefits to our mental and physical health.”

Photo: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio

One of the benefits could also be related to Alzheimer’s Disease, as slow breathing could help protect against it.

Groundbreaking research has recently been done on Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. We’re constantly learning more about the disease and ways to help protect ourselves from it. In fact, the FDA recently approved the first Alzheimer’s drug designed to slow the disease. A second drug called Donanemab could be seen as a turning point in the fight against Alzheimer’s if it gets approval by the FDA.

Now, it seems that slow breathing could be another tool we can use to help protect ourselves against the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Photo: Pexels/Karolina Grabowska

According to a recent study titled, “Modulating heart rate oscillation affects plasma amyloid beta and tau levels in younger and older adults,” practicing slow breathwork might have more benefits than once thought – including possibly protecting against Alzheimer’s Disease!

In the study, which was published in the journal Nature in March 2023, researchers measured biomarkers in blood plasma that are associated with developing Alzheimer’s in 108 participants. 54 participants (half) were asked to imagine a serene scene. They were told to listen to relaxing sounds and close their eyes. Essentially, they were asked to participate in a mindful meditation with the goal of decreasing the participants’ heart rate oscillations.

The other 54 participants were asked to follow a breathing exercise on a computer scene. The exercise had the participants inhale for five seconds and exhale for five seconds, a practice that typically increases heart rate oscillations.

Photo: Pexels/Jopwell

Both groups were asked to practice their designated exercises twice per day for 20 to 40 minutes each time. They did this for a total of five weeks.

Surprisingly, the breathing exercises were found to decrease levels of amyloid beta, while the mindfulness exercises were found to increase levels of amyloid beta. Clusters of amyloid beta protein have been distinguished as one of the main markers of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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