Heat Melts Dementia

The dreaded sign of aging dreads sauna as much as exercise

Heat Melts Dementia. Healthy Living Magazine

Heat Melts Dementia. Healthy Living Magazine

Finnish researchers may have discovered a luxurious way to prevent a dreaded disease of aging. They aimed for the first time to investigate whether frequency of sauna bathing is associated with risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease study of 2,315 healthy men, 42-60, was conducted between 1984 and 1989. During a follow-up of almost 21 years, the team looked for all sort of dementia and Alzheimer’s risk factors among both groups. These included: age, alcohol consumption, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, previous heart attack, resting heart rate and serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The difference was one group sauna bathed at least one session per week. For these men the dementia risk went down by 22%. But it went down 66% for 4-7 sauna bathing sessions per week. Alzheimer’s risk went down 20% and 65% respectively.

“In this male population, moderate to high frequency of sauna bathing was associated with lowered risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” the researchers wrote.

Read: Stress Linked To Dementia In Women

Sitting Exercise

For sedentary people and the frail and elderly taking a sauna is like exercising. The body responds to heat by opening up the vessels so the blood can flow and feed the tissues just as if the bather were running the mile. Sauna opens up the body’s microcirculation via nitric oxide expression.

The arteries become dilated and blood flows better, which oxygenates the brain and removes wastes. All of the body works better. Certainly one’s head is cleared after a 30 minute infrared sauna.

In the Journal of Physiology, researchers looked at heat therapy and arterial function and blood pressure and found the same effect.

Read: Short Exercise Burns 9X More Fat

Heat therapy increased blood flow, reduced arterial stiffness, average arterial and diastolic blood pressure and reduced carotid intima media thickness. The changes “all on par or greater than what is typically observed in sedentary subjects with exercise training. Our results show for the first time that heat therapy has widespread and robust effects on vascular function, and as such, could be a viable treatment option for improving cardiovascular health in a variety of patient populations, particularly those with limited exercise tolerance and/or capabilities.”

For a home sauna unit, look for infrared saunas that can be programmed for different therapeutic modalities.

These systems offer biometric readings and surround sound heat. Their benches are floating so there is no heat obstruction. Units with Solocarbon® heating, which is a university-studied technology, offer these advantages.

Brunt VE, Howard MJ, Francisco MA, Ely BR, Minson CT.Passive heat therapy improves endothelial function, arterial stiffness and blood pressure in sedentary humans. J Physiol. 2016 Sep 15;594(18):5329-42. doi: 10.1113/JP272453. Epub 2016 Jun 30.
Laukkanen T, Kunutsor S, Kauhanen J, Laukkanen JA.Sauna bathing is inversely associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in middle-aged Finnish men. Age Ageing. 2016 Dec 7. [Epub ahead of print]
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