Our blood type makes a difference in brain health

BloodCellMagnifiedAll blood looks alike—but it isn’t.

We each fall into four types: A, B, AB or O. Blood types have to be known for transfusions, but there is a lot more information about blood than most of us realize.

A recent study in the journal Brain Research Bulletin tells how blood type can influence development of the nervous system and predict how our brain will age.

We all know that with age our brain shrinks and goes through numerous changes at all levels. Reduction of gray matter volumes, mostly composed of neuronal cell bodies is normal as we age.

The smallest volumes of gray matter are associated with ALL non-‘O’ blood types, according to researchers who analyzed the blood of 189 healthy people.

A, B and AB blood types had smaller gray matter volumes in temporal and limbic regions of the brain, including the left hippocampus—the area known to be the first region of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s.

“What we know now is that significant differences in volumes exist,” said research fellow, Professor Annalena Venneri, of Sheffield University’s Department of Neuroscience in a press release. “We now have to understand how and why this occurs.”

A 2014 study published in the journal Neurology, found those with the rare AB blood (about 4 percent in the U.S.), have a higher risk of cognitive problems. They are 82 percent more likely to develop thinking, memory and other problems that lead to dementia.

AB blood types also had higher levels of factor 8, a protein that helps blood to clot. High levels of protein 8 have been linked to a higher risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.

Of course there are non-genetic risk factors—such as high blood pressure, diabetes, tobacco, inactivity, bad diet and overweight/obesity. The researchers found that high blood pressure is more likely to spur changes in the white matter of the brain, while smokers showed overall brain shrinkage.

The overall fastest rates of brain volume shrinkage and decline in function was found in those who were overweight and obese.

But there are ways to fortify and even build gray matter into old age—no matter what  our blood type.

There are the no-brainers that most of us know about (whether we ignore them or not)—don’t smoke, don’t drink too much, eat healthy, exercise, get a good night’s sleep.

But perhaps the most important of all in this era of stress and noise is to develop the ability to compartmentalize our minds, and find moments or hours of peace.

The researchers found that the brains of those who made a habit of divorcing themselves from the problems around them for at least regular brief periods of time, declined less than those who allowed themselves to sink into a morass of problems and depression.

Source: www.medicaldaily.com


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