Meditation and Spiritual Well-being may help to maintain Cognitive Function as we Age

Cognitive health, or the ability to think clearly, learn, and remember, is an important component of carrying out daily tasks. Cognitive health is only one component of total brain health. Nutrition and diet have been shown to have a significant impact on cognitive ability later in life in younger or middle-aged people.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is expected to affect up to 152 million people worldwide by 2050. There are currently no drugs that have a significant positive impact on the prevention or reversal of cognitive decline. A growing body of evidence suggests that addressing lifestyle and vascular risk factors improves overall cognitive performance.

Research finds spiritual fitness a new concept in medicine that centers on psychological and spiritual wellbeing, and Kirtan Kriya, a simple 12-minute meditative practice, may reduce multiple risk factors for AD. A new review published by IOS Press in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease looks at research that suggests spiritual fitness, a new concept in medicine that focuses on psychological and spiritual well-being, and Kirtan Kriya, a simple 12-minute meditative practice, may reduce multiple risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.

Research finds spiritual fitness a new concept in medicine that centers on psychological and spiritual wellbeing, and Kirtan Kriya, a simple 12-minute meditative practice, may reduce multiple risk factors for AD.

“The key point of this review is that making a commitment to a brain longevity lifestyle, including spiritual fitness, is a critically important way for aging Alzheimer’s disease-free,” explain authors Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD, Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, Tucson, AZ, USA, and Andrew B. Newberg, MD, Department of Integrative Medicine and Nutritional Sciences, Department of Radiology, Marcus Institute of Integrative Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA, USA. “We hope this article will inspire scientists, clinicians, and patients to embrace this new concept of spiritual fitness and make it a part of every multi-domain program for the prevention of cognitive disability.”

According to research, religious and spiritual involvement can help us maintain cognitive function as we age. The authors observe that, in today’s world, spirituality is frequently experienced outside of the context of organized religion and can be found in all religions or as a separate entity. Spiritual fitness is a new dimension in Alzheimer’s disease prevention, combining physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being. The authors discuss the research that has been done on how these factors affect brain function and cognition. Psychological well-being, for example, may reduce inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and disability.

Meditative practice and spiritual wellbeing may preserve cognitive function in aging

Individuals with a high “purpose in life” (PIL) score, a component of psychological well-being, were 2.4 times more likely to remain free of AD than those with a low PIL. Another study found that participants who reported higher levels of PIL had a better cognitive function and that PIL protected those who already had pathological conditions, slowing their decline.

Stress and stress management are under-discussed topics in Alzheimer’s disease prevention, despite the fact that there is ample evidence that the physical, psychological, and emotional effects of stress may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Kirtan Kriya (KK) is a 12-minute singing meditation in which four sounds, breathing, and repetitive finger movements are used. It has numerous documented effects on stress, including improved sleep, decreased depression, and increased well-being.

Long-term practitioners have also been found to increase blood flow to areas of the brain involved in cognition and emotional regulation, as well as increase grey matter volume and decrease the ventricular size, which may slow brain aging. The practice improves cognition, slows memory loss, and improves mood in healthy people, caregivers, and those with cognitive decline, according to research.

The overall relationship between spiritual fitness and a person’s total physical and mental health is being researched in the emerging field of study known as neurotheology. Early research focused on developing models to determine which brain areas are affected by spiritual practices such as meditation or prayer. There has been a significant increase in neuroimaging and other physiological studies evaluating the effect of meditation, spiritual practices, and mystical experiences over the last 20 years.

A neuroimaging study of KK discovered long-term brain effects, both during and after meditation. According to Dr. Khalsa and Dr. Newberg, neuropathological studies can help understand how a practice like KK can lead to more permanent effects in brain function that support spiritual fitness.

“Mitigating the extensive negative biochemical effects of stress through meditation practices, in conjunction with the development of higher levels of spiritual fitness, may help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Small changes in one’s daily routine can make a big difference in Alzheimer’s disease prevention “Dr. Khalsa and Dr. Newberg come to a close. “We hope that this article will spark future research on the topic of spiritual fitness and Alzheimer’s disease.”

The findings indicate that combining physical activity with cognitively demanding tasks was far more effective in improving cognition than segmenting physical activity and cognitive training sessions.

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