Life Lines

Health news you can use | Vol. 27 No. 5 | Jul-Aug 2017

SLEEP CAN JUMPSTART YOUR BRAIN

The myth—“Your creative genius is at its best in the middle of the night when you should be sleeping”— is so pervasive that design students are encouraged to pull frantic all-nighters as the best way to complete long-term projects with multiple deadlines. Then they are encouraged to crash and sleep binge.

Recent research reveals the design flaw in this myth. Skimping on sleep to finish creative projects followed by napping and binge sleeping actually reduces cognition and creativity, right when both are sorely needed! Not only is quantity of sleep important, so are regular hours for sleep. Ironically, a creative mind actually thrives on having a schedule—including one for sleep!

The upshot? Sleeping is not a waste of time. Quality sleep boosts creativity, innovation, and problem-solving skills.
Alternating skimpy sleep with sleep marathons hurts attention, creativity in young adults,” sciencedaily.com, April 24, 2017.

INCREASE YOUR BRAIN VOLUME WITH EXERCISE

“Engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions,” says Dr. Scott McGinnis, an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School.

Exercise encourages production of brain chemicals that affect the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance, survival, and overall health of new brain cells.

A moderate intense exercise goal would be 150 minutes per week of brisk walking. If you’re out of shape, start with a few minutes a day, and increase the amount by five or ten minutes every week. Be persistent with your new habit; reaping the cognitive benefits may take up to six months. “Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills,” Harvard Health Letter, November 29, 2016.

CHANGE YOUR TASTEBUDS

Good news! You actually can change your taste buds to prefer healthy food if you will persist for about three weeks. But in reality change goes both ways. The longer we eat unhealthy foods, the more we blunt our taste to them, and the more of them we will need to be satisfied. And the inverse is also true. The longer we eat healthier foods, the better they taste and the more we want of them!

In addition, researchers believe they have found a sixth taste—the one for fat. If we pile up on fatty foods like meat, milk, cheese, and eggs, we will soon desire an increasing amount of these foods. If we decrease our consumption of them, we begin to decrease our desire and taste for them. A plant-based diet is naturally low in fat and through a few weeks of persistence, you can enjoy eating foods that lie at the foundation of good health—fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables prepared in a simple and healthful way. “Changing Our Tastebuds,” NutritionFacts.org, September 9, 2013, Volume 14.

EAT PLANTS—FIGHT FAT

A long-term study in Spain revealed that participants who ate the highest amount of fruit and vegetables had a 43 percent lower chance of becoming obese in comparison to those who still ate animal-based foods and fewer plant foods. Put more simply, the fewer animal-based foods you eat, the more room you have for all the incredible benefits of your favorite fat-fighting plants. “More Fruits and Veggies Can Slash Obesity Odds,” HealthDay News, May 19, 2017.

 

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