Discover 5 Ways to Increase Blood Flow to the Brain

January 22, 2020
Improving blood supply to the brain will not only help you to avoid getting sick, but can also improve your memory and concentration.

Cerebral blood flow is the supply of blood that reaches your brain. According to a publication from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, your brain needs nearly 20% of the available oxygen to function normally. That means that strict regulation of blood flow and oxygen supply is essential for its survival.

Among other things, cerebral blood flow is important for transporting glucose and other important nutrients to the brain. Consequently, you need it to be functioning properly in order to stay healthy. As a result, it’s important to know if there are any habits that favor brain circulation.

As a daily practice, and as part of a healthy lifestyle, these habits can protect brain health and help prevent illnesses associated with bad circulation. Not only that, but they are a great way to stay active and full of energy.

1. Aerobic exercise

Walking-to-relax

So-called aerobic exercises can increase your cardiovascular function and, thereby, also increase blood flow to the brain. In fact, a study published in Artery Research found that aerobic exercise increases cerebral blood flow and decreases cerebrovascular resistance in postmenopausal women.  

This study concluded that regular aerobic exercise can mitigate the decrease in cerebral blood flow due to aging.

You can choose from any of the following simple activities:

  • Walk every day for half an hour.
  • Run every day for 15 minutes.
  • Take dance classes.
  • Go for a bike ride for 15 minutes.
  • Do aerobic exercises at home.

Read also:

How Walking Helps the Brain

2. The best foods to increase blood flow to the brain

Red-fruits

According to a study published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience, nutrition plays a very important role in brain health and cognitive function. So, it’s good to increase your consumption of foods that stimulate cerebral blood flow, like those high in antioxidants, carbohydrates, proteins, and omega-3.

Some good options are:

  • Whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, barley, rye…
  • Essential fatty acids such as those found in salmon, sardines, avocado, olive oil, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Cranberries, strawberries and citrus fruits.
  • Tomatoes, Kale, broccoli, spinach, asparagus…
  • Eggs.
  • Infusions made from sage.

3. Avoid smoking, overweight and stress

Obesity

It’s vital that you keep in mind this affirmation: smoking, being overweight and stress are three of the greatest enemies of your brain health. A study from the Journal of Pharmacological Sciences found that smoking cigarettes alters the increase of cerebral blood flow mediated by nitric oxide and has an impact on the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Being overweight or obese are also risk factors for developing cerebrovascular illnesses. According to a study published in Clinical Autonomic Research, having a high body mass index is associated with a reduction in cerebral blood flow and a higher risk for stroke.

And what about stress? A study in Frontiers in Neuroscience found that stress can affect cerebral vascular function and increase the risk of diverse conditions related to the brain’s vascular system.

4. Do brain exercises every day

Knitting

In order to increase the blood flow to your brain, you must also exercise its cognitive functions. Memory, curiosity, daily interest, motivation… All of this will establish new connections between the neurons and, little by little, it will create more tissue, more structures resistant to potential illnesses that you can suffer from.

Therefore, don’t hesitate to learn new things every day. You can read, sign up for classes, keep a diary and write down your thoughts, and discover what the world can offer you in order to improve your memory and your concentration.

5. The power of positive emotions

Emotional-health

Daily stress, anxiety or viewing things from a negative or fatalistic point of view can alter the neurochemistry of the brain, according to a study published in NeuropsychopharmacologyThis can cause fluctuations that threaten your brain circulation.

Positive emotions, on the other hand, can have a beneficial effect. Not just in terms of cerebral blood flow, but also in terms of cognitive function. So, always try to keep this advice in mind and put it into practice:

  • Keep a sense of humor. Talk about your joys!
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga… All this will help you be connected with yourself and live in the present, valuing what’s truly important.
  • Develop your social relationships; enjoy your friends and your family… Don’t just sit at home!

In summary

You can incorporate several healthy habits in your day-to-day life that will help stimulate cerebral blood flow and reduce the risk of illness. These habits will also help you be more active and focused.

As always, if you have any doubts or you think you might have an illness that could compromise the health of your brain, you should see your doctor immediately so you can get the necessary treatment.

 

  • Cipolla MJ. (2009). The Cerebral Circulation. San Rafael (CA): Morgan & Claypool Life Sciences; 2009. Chapter 5, Control of Cerebral Blood Flow. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53082/
  • Chapman, S. B., Aslan, S., Spence, J. S., DeFina, L. F., Keebler, M. W., Didehbani, N., & Lu, H. (2013). Shorter term aerobic exercise improves brain, cognition, and cardiovascular fitness in aging. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience5(NOV). https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2013.00075
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  • Toda, N., & Okamura, T. (2016, August 1). Cigarette smoking impairs nitric oxide-mediated cerebral blood flow increase: Implications for Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Pharmacological Sciences. Japanese Pharmacological Society. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jphs.2016.07.001
  • Selim, M., Jones, R., Novak, P., Zhao, P., & Novak, V. (2008). The effects of body mass index on cerebral blood flow velocity. Clinical Autonomic Research18(6), 331–338. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10286-008-0490-z
  • Lee, S., Kang, B. M., Shin, M. K., Min, J., Heo, C., Lee, Y., … Suh, M. (2015). Chronic stress decreases cerebrovascular responses during rat hindlimb electrical stimulation. Frontiers in Neuroscience9(DEC). https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2015.00462
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