Among the many recommendations that seem like good ideas, we’ve often heard that getting out in nature is a healthy practice. But our mission is not to simply recapitulate what may represent common beliefs, but rather to explore these practices in terms of their scientific support.
As it turns out, there is a lot of science happening right now that is looking specifically at the health benefits ascribed to nature exposure. Much of the literature is being generated by researchers in Japan, where nature exposure is referred to as Shinrin-yoku, a term created by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in 1982, and defined as making contact with and taking in the atmosphere of the forest, or “forest bathing.” Continue reading
By: Austin Perlmutter, M.D.
Depression is a global epidemic, a leading cause of disability that affects over 300 million people worldwide. Unfortunately, rates of diagnosed depression are continuing to rise in the United States, especially in our youth. When these disheartening statistics are combined with the relatively poor efficacy of our antidepressant medications, it becomes increasingly important to ask whether there may be non-pharmaceutical methods of treating this crippling condition. In recent years, scientific research has increasingly answered “yes.” Continue reading
It’s an all-too-common scenario. Too many restless nights resulting in a visit to the doctor where you confess that you’re “not sleeping well.” In many cases, this results in your doctor writing a prescription for a sleep drug.
However, the problem is that the depth and restorative nature of the sleep you get on sleep drugs is not on par with good, natural sleep. Specifically, the deeper stages of sleep are interrupted by these drugs which can have profound effects on brain function.
So what can you do to improve sleep? Continue reading
How does simply moving around affect the brain? For the past several years I’ve been doing my best to get out the information that shows how aerobic exercise benefits the brain by increasing the growth of new brain cells, as well as reducing the risk for brain degeneration. However, it looks like most adults are not achieving the 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity/week recommended by the 2018 US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Physical Activity Guidelines. In fact, this level of physical activity is only achieved by 57% of adults aged 40-49, and a paltry 26% of those aged 60-69.
That said, researchers recently set about exploring whether simply moving around would have a beneficial impact on brain health. They designed a study of 2,354 participants (with an average age of 53) that ran for three years. The subjects wore an accelerometer that basically determined both the number of steps they took each day as well as the intensity level of their activity. Continue reading
Are you feeling down or blue? If you are then one thing’s for sure: you’ve likely encountered any number of natural products being promoted for their potential ability to benefit and improve your mood. Everything from B vitamins to fish oil to 5-HTP have been studied and written about in terms of their potential role in not only combating depression, but actually making us feel generally happier. Continue reading