By Dr. Austin Perlmutter
It’s not news to anyone: exercise is good for our health. What is more interesting is the recent research showing how physical activity may activate certain pathways within our immune systems, our endocrine systems, and even change our brain function. One fascinating area where all of this intersects is the link between exercise and mental health.
Mental health issues are a growing problem in the United States and worldwide. Depression alone affects around 350 million people and is one of the leading causes of disability across the planet. Despite the best efforts of providers and scientists, strategies for treating and preventing depression have been lacking. Many people continue to struggle with the condition even after receiving therapy. This is why it is so important that we continue to look for additional strategies in depression prevention and management. Of these, exercise is among the most promising. Continue reading
In 1998, Dr. Peter Eriksson published a groundbreaking report in the journal Nature Medicine in which he described, for the first time, that the process of growing new brain cells, neurogenesis, occurs in humans. That was only 22 years ago. Prior to his publication it was generally assumed that humans developed brain cells up until our late teen years and it was downhill after that.
We now know that a person retains the ability to grow new brain cells throughout his/her entire lifetime. Importantly, it is now clear that there are various things we can do that will directly enhance this process of neurogenesis. Among the most potent stimuli triggering the growth of new brain cells are physical exercise, a ketogenic diet, whole coffee fruit extract, and there is now some pretty compelling data supporting the role of a particular species of mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (more commonly known as lion’s mane), in causing neurogenesis. Continue reading
One very popular variation of outright fasting is what is called time-restricted feeding (TRF). In both humans and laboratory animals, TRF refers the consumption of food only during a specific period of time each 24 hours. We know that this is certainly in contrast to the common way that people eat, meaning at least three meals a day with lots of snacks before, between, and after meals.
As it turns out, there appears to be quite a few health advantages to restricting the period of time that we eat during the day. Research has revealed, for example, how TRF positively affects a variety of cardiometabolic risk factors including blood sugar, and even the expression of our genes. Continue reading
The number of Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease has continued to grow at a dramatic rate. Currently, it is estimated that some 5.8 million Americans (of all ages) have Alzheimer’s disease. By and large, this is a disease of elderly individuals, with approximately 5.6 million of those diagnosed age 65 or older. To put that number into context, consider that this means 1 in 10 people age 65 or older suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Further, it is instructive to note that there are some 200,000 individuals here in America under age 65 years who have also been given the diagnosis.
Despite heroic research efforts, Alzheimer’s remains a disease for which there is no cure or meaningful treatment whatsoever. That said, it is critical that we ask ourselves if there is any evidence that the disease could be prevented, or at least explore what could be done to lower one’s risk. Continue reading
If you’ve been following me for some time, you know that one area of brain health we talk about in relationship to Alzheimer’s, quite frequently, is neurogenesis. Otherwise known as the ability to grow new brain cells, neurogenesis is an incredibly powerful ability we retain as humans, especially as it relates to neurogenesis in the hippocampus.
So much has been written over the years extolling the health benefits of green tea. Green tea has been reported to be effective for weight loss, antioxidant effects, reducing risk of cancer, protecting the brain from Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, reducing risk of heart attack, and even for helping a person live longer. As it turns out, there is a fair amount of validation supporting many of these health claims. In fact, as it relates to living longer, one very extensive Japanese study involving 40,000+ adults over 11 years, shows that those individuals who drank 5 cups of green tea or more each day saw their risk of death reduced by 23%, for women, and 12%, for men.
As you might expect, I am especially interested in research related to brain health and functionality. As such, I was extremely interested in a recent publication that evaluated one component in green tea that shows high biological activity. The chemical, epigallocatechin-3-galate, better known as EGCG, has been long known as being one of green tea’s components most responsible for its reported health benefits Continue reading