Feel Good


Feel Good: Eat Fish, Get a Bigger Brain

BY March 27, 2017

 

Harsh reality is that as the body ages the brain shrinks. And, a shrinking brain is a brain that isn’t operating at the highest levels anymore. So, let’s keep our brains big. One way to do that: the Mediterranean diet, according to a recent study in Neurology. Researchers found that their participants (all in their 70s) who adhered to the diet had half the brain shrinkage of those who didn’t adhere over a span of three years. Mark it down as another win for the diet. With its emphasis on fish, veggies, olive oil and nuts, it has already been praised as a means to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

 

Jogging: The thinking person’s sport

It’s pretty easy just to zone out when you’re out for a jog. But your brain is actually working in ways you might not realize. A team of researchers at the University of Alabama found that running is actually quite mentally demanding. We already know that many athletes show connections in the brain that non-athletes don’t have. This was previously believed to be largely limited to athletes who master hand-eye coordination. But the researchers found that joggers show a greater capacity for cognitive skills, such as multitasking and concentration, than non-joggers. Consider this: Runners have to plan, react and navigate at very quick speeds. So, even when they’re not really thinking about it, their brains are taking care of some high-level thought.

 

A revolutionary way to recover from a stroke

About half of the 800,000 people who suffer a stroke each year end up with disability. But a groundbreaking surgery recently performed at the Cleveland Clinic could reduce those numbers. During “deep brain stimulation,” electrodes are implanted in the brain and give short electronic jolts to help patients regain some of their lost movement. The surgery may one day prove more effective than physical therapy. “The goal is to give people better recovery to gain independence,” Dr. Andre Machado told Time. Previously, deep brain stimulation has been used to treat people with Parkinson’s disease.

 

Take a nap. Your brain will thank you.

You’ve had a busy morning, and by the time lunch hits you’re feeling pretty worn out. What should you do? The obvious answer may be the best one: Take a nap. A study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that people who napped after lunch had higher cognitive functioning than those who didn’t. However, there is a catch: The key was the duration of the nap. The sweet spot was at about an hour. Those who slept shorter or longer times didn’t perform as well as the hourlong nappers. The researchers also noted that the best times for a nap are between 1 and 4 p.m. Naps during that time tended to be more restorative than those in the later afternoon or late morning.

 

Stay moisturized in the friendly skies

It’s not just those narrow seats and coughing passengers that are making you uncomfortable 30,000 feet up. A long flight can seriously dry out your skin. Most airplane cabins have about the same humidity level as a desert. Emirates Airlines has figured a way to combat this. Now, as part of its first-class package, the airline is giving passengers moisturizing sleepwear. The PJs are actually infused with nutrient-rich sea kelp (we’re being serious here) that hydrates the skin while sleeping. Now, if there’s a way to keep that kid from kicking your seat…  

 

Fight insomnia online

The key to a good night’s sleep may be a few hours in front of the computer. A report in JAMA Psychiatry found that an online program called SHUTi significantly helped the insomniacs in the study group. The program is essentially therapy without a therapist. It uses techniques found in traditional cognitive behavioral therapy to fight sleeplessness, such as setting strict time frames for rest and starting routines to prepare for bed. (SHUTi costs $135 for 16 weeks.) Although this is a promising development for insomniacs, don’t expect computers to start replacing therapists anytime soon. The program did well with garden-variety insomnia, but deeper issues with sleep still call for more intense study.

 

Don’t drive drowsy

It may be a bigger deal than you think. Drivers who got fewer than 7 hours of sleep doubled their risk of crash the day after, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.