Oxygenate Your Brain! January 01 2015

The brain is the body’s largest consumer of oxygen—by weight, the brain is only about 2 percent of body weight but it uses an amazing 20 percent of the body’s oxygen supply! It’s no wonder that one possible contributor to memory loss is the long-term, gradual decline of brain oxygen levels. Here are a few simple ways to improve oxygen flow to your brain:

  • Aerobic exercise (i.e. running, walking briskly, or biking) improves the ability of the cardiovascular system to deliver oxygen to the brain and may even help to rejuvenate the area of the brain associated with memory, the hippocampus. A March 2007 study by the National Academy of Sciences found that “a three-month program of vigorous aerobic exercise seemed to produce new neurons in this area, as well as improvements on tests of mental recall.” The study found a startling 30 percent increase in the number of brain cells in participants who were exercising intensely on a treadmill or stationary bicycle for one to two hours a day, four days a week.
  • Ginkgo, an herb, has been repeatedly studied for its ability to improve blood flow to the brain and increase the ability of brain cells to retain oxygen. One amazing implication for ginkgo has been in the use of stroke prevention and recovery, because the detrimental side effects of a stroke are caused by the lack of oxygen to the brain. Ginkgo can be found in several of our herbal formulas, including Brain Power and Focus Support.
  • Anemia is a condition in which blood cells are unable to carry adequate levels of oxygen to bodily tissues. There are several reasons for anemia including iron deficiency, B vitamin deficiency, and underlying disease processes. Ask your doctor to run a Complete Blood Count (CBC), a simple blood test that is almost always covered by insurance, at your annual physical to make sure that your blood cells are functioning at maximum capacity to deliver oxygen to your brain.
  • Deep breathing is a simple and very obvious way to increase oxygen levels in your body as a whole! To begin, lie down or sit quietly with one hand over your abdomen. Concentrate on taking deep, slow breaths that cause your hand to move up and down. This is an indication that you are “belly breathing” rather than just lifting your shoulders up and down. Belly breathing has other benefits including reducing the stress response and promoting relaxation. Try this for 10 to 20 breaths, depending on how much time you have. Many people that have trouble falling asleep find that deep belly breathing while lying in bed helps them to drift off to sleep.
Jessica Stamm
Jessica is a scientist at heart, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Hood College. Desiring a career in health and wellness, she graduated with a Master’s in Human Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport with subsequent board certification as a CCN. She works with nutritional clients nationwide, teaches corporate wellness programs, and produces educational materials for several nutrition and food-related companies.