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Can Cold Water Cure Dementia?

New research suggests swimming in cold water could provide big brain benefits

If you took part in a polar plunge to clear the cobwebs and ring in the New Year feeling refreshed and ready, you might want to consider adding some more chilly splashes the rest of the year. It might not all be in your head—or maybe that brand-new feeling is in the very cells of your brain itself.

It seems there could be a connection between swimming in cold water and a healthier brain, according to new research led by Giovanna Mallucci, a professor of clinical neurosciences and associate director of the UK Dementia Research Institute at the University of Cambridge. Her team has recently produced some compelling evidence that cold water swimming could slow age-related cognitive decline and maybe even hold the key to a future cure for dementia.

Although the science is still in its infancy, Mallucci and her team have discovered a potentially promising “cold-shock” protein in the blood of winter swimmers who engage in the practice regularly at London’s Parliament Hill Lido, a 60-meter-long, unheated, outdoor pool that’s open year-round. The protein, called RBM3, is also found in hibernating mammals, such as bears and bats.

Inducing a controlled state of hypothermia has a lengthy history in clinical settings and is often used to help people survive and recover from cardiac procedures and head injuries. That’s because it’s long been understood that being cold offers survival advantages to someone facing a traumatic injury or surgery. Why exactly cold helps protect the body isn’t entirely clear.

read the full article @ USMS