By Dr. Austin Perlmutter
In the wake of the global spread of the 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19), many of us have started to think more carefully about our health. How can we reduce our risk of infection and of infecting others? How can we improve our immune function? What might the virus do to our lungs, heart and blood vessels? But while these questions are very important, it’s also critical to consider how a pandemic affects our brains and how to guard them against this damage. Specifically, we need to be considering strategies to protect our mental and cognitive health.
We’ve long known that mental health suffers in periods of high stress. So it’s no surprise that the current pandemic has been linked to a spike in feelings of anxiety and depression. A troubling May 2020 survey reported that over 34% of Americans are now experiencing these symptoms. This comes at a time when the world is already experiencing an epidemic of mental illness. Continue reading
The leading causes of death and disability worldwide are chronic degenerative conditions. These familiar diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and type II diabetes are increasing globally, at a dramatic rate, in every region, and in all socioeconomic classes. To be clear, chronic degenerative conditions exceed deaths caused by famine, war, and even infectious diseases. Importantly, this was not always the case.
What has changed? Certainly, it hasn’t been our genetics. Our DNA has changed very little in the past hundred thousand years. And yet, we are suddenly experiencing a virtual explosion in the prevalence of these conditions.
To understand why do these conditions are now so widespread, we have to ask if there’s any shared mechanism that underlies chronic degenerative diseases as a group. Indeed there is. In a word, it’s inflammation. All of these conditions represent a consequence of increased levels of inflammation within the body, and higher levels of inflammation can damage heart arteries, the brain, the joints, and even disrupt the function of the immune system allowing cancer to manifest.
So, if inflammation is at the root of what our now the most pervasive diseases on our planet, it really makes sense to explore how our modern world is amping up inflammation as this should clearly provide us some action points to live a healthier and longer life. Continue reading
Most people have a sense that there is something intrinsically healthy about getting out into nature. Truthfully, there is certainly a lot of science that backs up that contention. Well-conducted scientific research demonstrates that there are significant immune-boosting benefits of nature exposure, alongside a lowering of blood pressure, improvement in mood, more rapid recovery from surgery, better sleep, and reduction of stress.
It is the stress consideration that seems to be getting a lot of attention as of late, perhaps as our world and day-to-day lives become more and more stressful. Related to this, researchers have been trying to develop ways of measuring stress, and in particular, its reduction as a result of nature exposure. In addition, there’s been quite a bit of new research trying to determine if there is any benefit to having a nature experience, particularly in an urban environment. Continue reading
Look around and ask yourself, could things be better? We believe the answer is a resounding yes. And this is our ultimate goal in bringing out our new book, Brain Wash.
Brain Wash is a functional roadmap for understanding how so much of what characterizes our modern world influences our brains and, most importantly, our decision-making. From our modern diets to our lack of restorative sleep to our virtual addiction to our digital experiences, the trappings of modern times actually conspire to keep us unfulfilled, impulsive, and self-centered. Brain Wash begins by bringing these powerful influences into stark reality. We present a framework for appreciating the negative impact of these exposures, and then provide a set of practical interventions for reclaiming our brains and improving our physical and mental health. Continue reading
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