Neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, are serious brain disorders that could affect bodily functions like balance, speech and mobility. According to the Alzheimer's Association, 5.8 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's disease, and this number is estimated to rise to nearly 14 million by 2050. While Alzheimer's and Parkinson's do not have a known cure, there are natural ways for you to optimize your brain health so you can prevent the onset of these diseases. For instance, you can make dietary and lifestyle changes to support the health a lesser-known bodily system: the glymphatic system.
Detox your brain by supporting your glymphatic system
The lymphatic system is a network of tissues, organs, nodes and vessels that facilitates the removal of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. But while components of this system can be found everywhere in the body, the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and spinal cord, does not have any true lymphatic vessels. This is where the glymphatic system comes into play.
The glymphatic system consists of pores, water channels and other pathways in the brain and spinal cord that help clear out cellular waste. It is also responsible for circulating cerebrospinal fluid throughout the body's clearance pathways. The CNS needs a waste removal system because its high activity can cause metabolic waste to build up rather quickly. This emphasizes the need to expel these by-products as soon as possible. Neurodegenerative diseases are associated with the build-up of metabolic waste in the brain.
The functions of the glymphatic system are dependent on several factors, such as immune health, heart health and even vascular (blood vessel) health. Just like the rest of the body, a poor diet and bad lifestyle choices could impede the glymphatic system's "brain drain" function, compromising an individual's overall health. Because of this, maintaining a healthy glymphatic system should be your top priority if you want to preserve your cognitive health and prevent the onset of neurodegenerative diseases. Here are five strategies you can adopt to give your glymphatic system the support it needs.
Get good quality sleep. Getting a good night's rest can pave the way towards a healthier glymphatic system — as well as a clearer mind. According to a study published in the journal Science, the glymphatic system opens up during sleep, letting fluid rapidly flow through the brain. This suggests that most glymphatic activities happen during sleep, so getting the right amount of sleep can help your brain flush out toxic molecules associated with neurodegenerative disease.
Exercise for better brain health. A short bout of exercise can boost brain function by increasing blood flow throughout the body. This allows for a smoother exchange of nutrients and oxygen that supports both your lymphatic and glymphatic systems. An animal study published in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience also found that voluntary exercise can promote accelerated glymphatic clearance and protect against a decline in spatial cognition.
Keep yourself hydrated. When you're dehydrated, your heart has to exert more effort into pumping blood to your brain. This is because cerebral blood flow goes against gravity. By drinking water as often as possible, you can significantly improve blood flow to your brain.
Keep the bowels moving regularly. A large amount of energy is consumed by the body for digestion. This means that less energy is dedicated to supporting the activities of the glymphatic system. By adding more fiber to your diet, you can make it easier for your digestive system to perform its function without consuming too much energy. This gives your body more freedom to support other processes, such as those regulated by your glymphatic system.
Keeping a healthy glymphatic system could be the key to reducing your risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Visit BrainHealthBoost.com for more tips on how to support your brain health.