Jan 2017

BY David Bach, MD


How to Improve Your Sleep, Be More Alert, and Slow Aging

Scientific research continues to pour in demonstrating that minor changes to your work and home environment have a huge impact on your brain and body – and thus your productivity and happiness.

Bright Blue Light is Great in the Morning but Problematic in the Evening
One of the easiest ways to enhance your productivity and effectiveness is simply to modify the lighting in your home and office. Adding to our rapidly growing knowledge in this arena, a recent study from Northwestern University demonstrated, among other findings, that bright blue light in the morning increases alertness, but in the evening it can cause metabolic changes and make weight loss more difficult.

No Thanks, I’ll Stand
It has become increasingly clear that standing desks are much better for us than traditional ones for both health and productivity. Adding to the evidence, a recent study from Texas A&M showed that standing desks increased call center productivity by an average of 46 percent over six months. The more compelling finding, however, was that productivity increased during the study, from 23 percent in the first month to 53 percent in the sixth month.

Sing Me a Lullaby
If you have trouble sleeping, check this out. A recently published study of students with sleeping problems found that listening to music for 45 minutes before going to bed turned 30 out of 35 poor sleepers into good sleepers. In addition, the music group showed a substantial reduction in depressive symptoms.

Evidence continues to mount that intermittent fasting has a huge, positive impact on our brains and bodies. Meanwhile, the ill effects of too much sugar and red meat are becoming increasingly apparent in the scientific literature.

Biological Mechanism Discovered Explaining the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
The beneficial impact of intermittent fasting is now well established, but we still don’t understand exactly why it works. Researchers at the Salk Institute moved our knowledge forward here; they found a genetic switch in fruit flies (called Crtc) that: (a) turns on during fasting, and (b) appears to have several positive benefits, such as inhibiting inflammation and enhancing gut barrier integrity.

Another Nail in the High-Fat, High-Sugar Diet’s Coffin
A study from Oregon State University demonstrated that a high-fat, high-sugar diet, compared to a normal diet, cause changes in gut bacteria that appear related to a significant loss of “cognitive flexibility” (the power to adapt and adjust to changing situations).

Red Meat Accelerates Aging
Just in case the evidence against excessive red meat has not been definitive enough, researchers from the University of Glasgow recently published a study linking it with accelerated biological aging and high blood phosphates.

Dramatic and broad-based health benefits associated with hallucinogens are becoming increasingly apparent in well-controlled clinical studies – to the scientific community’s surprise and chagrin. These studies, in turn, are prompting regulators to reevaluate whether hallucinogens should remain illegal.

Magic Mushrooms Cure Depression
Building on a growing body of evidence, researchers from Imperial College London recently published another study showing the extraordinary benefits of psilocybin on depression. In a study of 12 clinically depressed, treatment-resistant patients (depression lasting ~ 17.8 years), one dose of oral psilocybin led to dramatic symptomatic improvement in just one week; and three months later, five patients were in complete remission.

Can LSD Help You Focus?
With all the recent buzz around hallucinogens, scientists have, once again, begun to experiment with low dose LSD to promote focus and stoke creativity. Before it was banned, Dr. James Fadiman had theoretical physicists take LSD to work on technical problems they hadn’t been able to solve. Out of 48 problems, 44 were solved.

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