Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. Lifestyle changes are at the forefront of preventing the disease. This includes advice such as increasing physical activity and having a healthy balanced diet to reduce risk factors. Intermittent fasting (IF) is a popular dietary plan involving restricting caloric intake to certain days in the week such as alternate day fasting and periodic fasting, and restricting intake to a number of hours in a given day, otherwise known as time-restricted feeding. IF is being researched for its benefits and many randomised controlled trials have looked at its benefits in preventing CVD.
There was a little cafe I used to go to that did the best bacon sandwiches. They came in a soft and pillowy white bap. The bacon, thick-cut from a local butcher, was midway between crispy and chewy. Ketchup and HP sauce were served in miniature jars with the sandwich, so you could dab on the exact amount you liked. That was all there was to it: just bread and bacon and sauce. Eating one of these sandwiches, as I did every few weeks, with a cup of strong coffee, felt like an uncomplicated pleasure.
And then, all of a sudden, the bacon sandwich stopped being quite so comforting. For a few weeks in October 2015, half the people I knew were talking about the news that eating bacon was now a proven cause of cancer. You couldn’t miss the story: it was splashed large in every newspaper and all over the web. As one journalist wrote in Wired, “Perhaps no two words together are more likely to set the internet aflame than BACON and CANCER.” The BBC website announced, matter-of-factly, that “Processed meats do cause cancer”, while the Sun went with “Banger out of Order” and “Killer in the Kitchen”.
Evolutionary biologist Daniel E. Lieberman caused an international stir nearly a decade ago when he published a paper showing that running in cushioned sneakers encourages people to hit the ground harder than running barefoot.
Lieberman, a professor of biological sciences at Harvard University, also started running barefoot himself as an experiment and kept doing it because he enjoyed it. Every spring, after running the Boston Marathon, he would trade his traditional sneakers for a pair of minimal shoes or no footwear at all. The more he ran barefoot, the more callused and protected his feet became. “But I could still feel the ground just as well as when my calluses were really thin,” Lieberman says. From an evolutionary standpoint, it made sense that callused feet would still feel: they are the body’s only contact with the ground, and ancient people could not afford to lose that sensation, he thought.
Walking is one of the simplest and most strategic things you can do for yourself. It takes little preparation, minimal effort, no special equipment, and it can contract or expand to fit the exact amount of time you have available. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a single bout of moderate-to vigorous activity (including walking) can improve our sleep, thinking, and learning, while reducing symptoms of anxiety. When we go for a walk, we perform better on tests of memory and attention; our brain cells build new connections, staving off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age; we can actively change the pace of our thoughts by deliberately walking more briskly or by slowing down; and our attention is left to meander and observe, helping us generate new ideas and to have strokes of insight.
The objective of this study is to determine whether middle-aged adults prescribed a low carbohydrate-high fat (LCHF) or low fat (LF) diet would have greater loss of central fat and to determine whether the insulin resistance (IR) affects intervention response. A total of 50 participants (52.3 ± 10.7 years old; 36.6 ± 7.4 kg/m2 BMI; 82% female) were prescribed either a LCHF diet (n = 32, carbohydrate: protein: fat of 5%:30%:65% without calorie restriction), or LF diet (n = 18, 63%:13–23%: 10–25% with calorie restriction of total energy expenditure—500 kcal) for 15 weeks. Central and regional body composition changes from dual-x-ray absorptiometry and serum measures were compared using paired t-tests and ANCOVA with paired contrasts. IR was defined as homeostatic model assessment (HOMA-IR) > 2.6. Compared to the LF group, the LCHF group lost more android (15.6 ± 11.2% vs. 8.3 ± 8.1%, p < 0.01) and visceral fat (18.5 ± 22.2% vs. 5.1 ± 15.8%, p < 0.05). Those with IR lost more android and visceral fat on the LCHF verses LF group (p < 0.05). Therefore, the clinical prescription to a LCHF diet may be an optimal strategy to reduce disease risk in middle-aged adults, particularly those with IR.
Taking a regular afternoon nap may be linked to better mental agility, a study has found. Researchers found sleeping in the afternoon was associated with better locational awareness, verbal fluency and working memory in an ageing Chinese population.
The study, published in online journal General Psychiatry, examined the sleep patterns of 2,214 healthy people aged 60 and over in several large cities in China, including Beijing and Shanghai. Of those who took part in the study, 1,534 took a regular afternoon nap of between five minutes and two hours, while 680 did not.
Participants in the study were asked how often they napped during the week, with answers ranging from once a week to every day. The average length of nighttime sleep was around 6.5 hours in both groups, though no information was taken on the specific duration or timing of the naps taken.
That said, I would not recommend following a 100% fruitarian diet all the time. And neither would most health experts. Certified nutritionist Dana James says that even though fruitarianism is better than the standard American diet, which is packed with hyper-processed foods, it’s still far from ideal. In the long run, the diet’s drawbacks are significant.
“The sugar from the excessive amount of fruit destabilizes blood sugar levels, which can lead to lethargy, cravings, lack of concentration, a disrupted microbiome, and more,” she says. Plus, it’s impossible to get complete nutrition from fruit alone. “You’ll need to supplement with protein powders, B complex, omega-3, iron, zinc, vitamin D, and iron,” James advises.
LeVeque agrees, saying, “I really don’t love this diet. The benefits don’t outweigh the drawbacks that include lack of amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, increased fructose metabolism, tooth decay, and increased cravings.” She also points out the pitfall of excess sugar, explaining that all the fructose from the fruit efficiently stores as fat and glucose, which can negatively affect blood sugar regulation.
A new study suggests that a lot of people might be going through life with symptoms that resemble concussion – a finding supporting researchers’ argument that athletes recovering from a brain injury should be assessed and treated on a highly individualized basis.
The unusual longevity enjoyed in Japan is often credited to diet. Yet the idea that the country has extended lifespans by entirely avoiding the West’s sinful culinary delights may be too simple. In fact, recent studies imply that one key to its success may be that its people’s diets have shifted over time towards Western eating patterns.
Japan was not always a longevity champion. In 1970 its age-adjusted mortality rates were average for the OECD. Although its levels of cancer and heart disease were relatively low, it also had the OECD’s highest frequency of cerebrovascular deaths, caused by blood failing to reach the brain.
In 1970-90, however, Japan’s cerebrovascular mortality rate fell towards the OECD average. With world-beating numbers on heart disease and fewer strokes, Japan soared up the longevity league table.
How did Japan overcome its cerebrovascular woes? Some of its gains simply mirror better treatments and reductions in blood pressure around the world, notes Thomas Truelsen of the University of Copenhagen.
My theory is that they’ve been adding something in the water system. No other explanation.
People focus less on bad feelings and experiences from the past (i.e. rumination) after four weeks of probiotics administration. Psychologists Laura Steenbergen and Lorenza Colzato from the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition published their findings in Brain, Behavior and Immunity.
Combining the psychedelic drug psilocybin with supportive psychotherapy results in substantial rapid and enduring antidepressant effects among patients with major depressive disorder, according to a new randomized clinical trial. The findings have been published in JAMA Psychiatry.
The new study provides more evidence that psilocybin, a compound found in so-called magic mushrooms, can be a helpful tool in the treatment of psychiatric conditions.
“Prior studies in cancer patients and in an uncontrolled clinical trial in depressed patients using psilocybin-assisted therapy showed promising results. Because there had not been a control group those prior studies were limited,” said study author Alan K Davis, an assistant professor at Ohio State University and adjunct assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University.
“We were interested in testing whether psilocybin-assisted therapy would be helpful for people with depression because depression is one of the most prevalent and debilitating conditions in the world.”
Microorganisms can be found in virtually any environment. In humans, the largest collection of microorganisms is found in the gut ecosystem. The adult gut microbiome consists of more genes than its human host and typically spans more than 60 genera from across the taxonomic tree. In addition, the gut contains the largest number of neurons in the body, after the brain. In recent years, it has become clear that the gut microbiome is in communication with the brain, through the gut–brain axis. A growing body of literature shows that the gut microbiome plays a shaping role in a variety of psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder (MDD). In this review, the interplay between the microbiome and MDD is discussed in three facets. First, we discuss factors that affect the onset/development of MDD that also greatly impinge on the composition of the gut microbiota—especially diet and stressful life events. We then examine the interplay between the microbiota and MDD. We examine evidence suggesting that the microbiota is altered in MDD, and we discuss why the microbiota should be considered during MDD treatment. Finally, we look toward the future and examine how the microbiota might become a therapeutic target for MDD. This review is intended to introduce those familiar with the neurological and psychiatric aspects of MDD to the microbiome and its potential role in the disorder. Although research is in its very early days, with much yet to be the understood, the microbiome is offering new avenues for developing potentially novel strategies for managing MDD.
Food corporations have exploited the dominant model in nutrition science to shape the way their ultra-processed products are defended, promoted, and regulated. Gyorgy Scrinis examines their scientific strategies and suggests ways to reframe the debate…
Chronic sleep disruption during adolescence can lead to depression in both males and females and alters stress reactivity in females, according to a new study led by University of Ottawa researchers. Their findings, published in the journal Behavioral Brain Research, are particularly relevant in the context of a pandemic, when adolescents’ mental health is already under strain.
Itching has myriad causes and mechanisms, many of which remain elusive. Scientists are making headway on parsing its biological underpinnings, in hope of better treatments.
“When we want to focus on something, or when we stand up from a chair and become active, a brain stem nucleus releases a chemical called norepinephrine. Acute exposure to alcohol inhibits this signal in the brain,” said senior author Martin Paukert, MD, assistant professor of cellular and integrative physiology at UT Health San Antonio. When attention is needed for a task, norepinephrine is secreted by a brain structure called the locus coeruleus. Scientists previously did not understand well what happens next, but Dr. Paukert and the team showed that the norepinephrine attaches to receptors on cells called Bergmann glia. This leads to a calcium rise in these cells.