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Walk, Stretch, and Breath for Better Brain Health

In my previous blog- Brain Grease- we looked at the importance of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) and how it flows throughout our central nervous system. Now we are going to take a look at ways that we can influence this flow and improve our clarity of thinking and optimize our brain health.

Quick Recap:

· CSF surrounds your brain and spinal cord and is responsible for delivering nutrients and removing wastes

· Approximately 500 mL (2 cups) of CSF are produced and recycled every day

· There is approximately 130 mL of CSF surrounding your brain and spinal cord at any given time

· The cardiac system and respiratory systems both create cycles of internal pressure changes that help pump CSF around your brain and spinal cord

CSF and Brain Health

The movement of CSF through and around the brain and spinal cord is critical for maintaining an optimal environment for your brain cells (neurons) to function in. As CSF flow slows down a build-up of metabolic waste products can increase the risk of neuroinflammation and alter the functioning of your brain. Research studies are currently examining the link between stagnation, or decreased CSF flow, and poor aging.

Natural Ways to Improve CSF Flow

Of the two systems that contribute to the pumping of CSF, breathing has been found to be a major contributor to the flow of CSF. Deep breathing in particular creates the greatest pressure gradient and has the largest effect on CSF flow. Activities that promote deep breathing, such as yoga, meditation, and light exercise (walking), may positively influence better CSF flow. Have you ever felt that clarity of mind after leaving a yoga class or returning from a walk?

Posture and CSF Flow – How are they related?

In addition to the positive effects of breathing from these types of exercises, various yoga postures, stretches, and gentle movement can also help promote better postural stability. Proper alignment of the head and spine may be a critical factor in allowing CSF to flow smoothly around the central nervous system. This postural alignment is a point of focus of certain types of therapies, such as craniosacral therapy and NUCCA Chiropractic treatment.

Incorporating activities that support your body’s natural functions can help to optimize your brain health and overall wellness. Challenge yourself to walk, stretch, and practice deep breathing every day and see how your clarity of mind and energy changes!

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