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How Meditation Can Slow Alzheimer’s

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerJune 20, 2016

A new study suggests that taking time from your busy schedule to meditate can actually help preserve your mind and slow Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Learn more about how meditation can slow Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s and Meditation

A recent study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has shown that meditation plays an important role in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s. Fourteen adults from ages 55-90 were divided into two groups. One group received regular care with no emphasis on meditation, while the other group meditated and performed yoga at least two hours a week.

Researchers found that the group who performed meditation and yoga at least two hours per week had less atrophy in parts of the brain and better brain connectivity than the control group.

This finding gives them hope that the practice of meditation and yoga may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.

Brain Boosting Benefits of Meditation

While this is the latest study on the correlation between Alzheimer’s and meditation, the brain boosting benefits of meditation have been shown repeatedly.

Through various studies, researchers have found that:

  1. Those who practice meditation and yoga have less atrophy in the hippocampus, which is shrunken in people with Alzheimer’s.
  2. Meditation protects our brain by increasing protective tissues.
  3. Meditation can help seniors feel less isolated and lonely, two feelings which lead to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
  4. There is a high correlation between perceived stress and Alzheimer’s. Meditation helps participants feel calmer, lessening perceived stress and the risk of Alzheimer’s.
  5. Meditation reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which has been known to increase the risk of developing dementia.
  6. Meditation increases cortical thickness and grey matter which slows the aging rate of the brain. Cortical thickness has been associated with decision making and memory.

How Meditation Can Slow Alzheimer’s

A new study has found that intense concentration and relaxation could lead to a growth of new brain cells, protecting against the brain shrinkage linked to — and slowing — Alzheimer’s.

An international team of scientists evaluated brain scans of 50 American men and women who meditated regularly and brain scans of 50 Americans who did not regularly meditate and found a startling difference. Generally speaking, the brain scans of those who did not meditate showed a brain age the same as the person’s actual age. However, the brains of people who meditated were on average, 7 years younger than the person’s actual age —  so that a 50-year-old person who regularly meditated would actually show a brain that a 43-year-old person would have.

Researcher Christian Gaser from Jena University Hospital in Germany said of their findings:

“These findings suggest that meditation is beneficial for brain preservation, with a slower rate of brain aging throughout life.”

He went on to say that it is not clear how meditation can protect the brain except that the mental processes in meditation trigger the growth of new brain cells.

Additionally, researchers acknowledge that people who meditate more regularly may lead healthier lifestyles in general so the effects of meditation on brain health are hard to isolate. The study was recently published in NeuroImage.

Do you practice meditation on a regular basis? Have you seen the effects of how meditation can slow Alzheimer’s? Share your stories with us in the comments below.

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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