It's no secret that heavy drinking is linked to potential health problems, but now a British study suggests even one drink a day is linked to detectable changes in the brain.
Researchers examined fMRI brain scans from 36,678 healthy adults and compared those findings to participants' alcohol consumption.
In line with past studies, they found that as a person's alcohol intake increased, their gray matter and white matter volume decreased, affecting many parts of the brain.
But researchers also found a difference between brain images of people who never drank alcohol and those who had just one or two drinks a day.
They also reported that going from one unit of alcohol (a half-pint of beer) to two units (a pint of beer or glass of wine) was linked to changes similar to two years of aging in the brain.
Tara Haelle, Just One Extra Drink a Day May Change the Brain," Medscape.com, Mar. 16, 2022.
Doomscrolling is continuing to scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing. It’s a practice that has boomed in these unstable times.
Many people may be news junkies, checking the news often yet experiencing minimal life disruption. But researchers at Texas Tech University are concerned to find that some people—16.5 percent of about 1,100 surveyed—exhibit signs of “severely problematic” news consumption.
They’re more likely to become absorbed in news content, be preoccupied with thoughts about the news, attempt to reduce anxiety by consuming more news, find it difficult to regulate their exposure to the news, and have news consumption interfere in their daily life.
As a result, they experienced greater levels of stress and anxiety, resulting in poor mental and physical health. Learning to be concerned yet also detaching ourselves from the news is important for health.
Caitlin Cassidy, "Doomscrolling linked to poor physical and mental health, study finds," Theguardian.com, Sept. 5, 2022.
We may think a good night's sleep should be uninterrupted, but new research from the University of Copenhagen suggests just the opposite.
The study, done on mice, found that the stress transmitter noradrenaline wakes up the brain many times a night. Noradrenaline levels rise and fall like waves every 30 seconds during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. At each "peak" the brain is briefly awake, and in each "valley" it is asleep.
During the valleys, there are short bursts of brain activity. The brief awakenings that follow are linked to memory consolidation. Typically, these awakenings are so brief that the sleeping subject doesn’t notice.
Longer, noticeable awakenings follow deeper valleys, however. The study found that the mice with the most “deep valleys” also had the best memories. This means that waking up briefly may be a natural part of a good night’s sleep!
Gina Loveless, "Waking Up at Night Could Be Your Brain Boosting Your Memory," Medscape.com, Aug. 3, 2022.
Research shows that eating with others has wonderful benefits. At work, eating with teammates may build camaraderie, foster deeper work relationships, and boost productivity. Firefighters who eat together, for example, perform better together in their life-or-death line of work than those who don't, according to a 2015 study. In addition, those who lunch with coworkers may experience a much needed break, establish office friendships, and do some casual, low-level networking.
Similar benefits result when families eat together. Based on a survey of research, an article on Parents.com asks, “What else can you do in an hour that will improve your kids' academic performance, increase their self-esteem, and reduce their risk of substance abuse, depression, teen pregnancy, and obesity?”
Eating with just one other person can have mental and social benefits too!