Improve your cognitive and mental health with the latest brain health and fitness news, carefully curated and medically reviewed, from around the web.
3 Science Backed Reasons to Take That Vacation
Americans are particularly reluctant to use their vacation days, but taking a vacation, and completely unplugging from work while gone, will make you happier, healthier, and more productive when you return.
Wearing Hearing Aid May Help Protect Brain in Later Life
Hearing loss is linked to memory loss and an increased risk of dementia. Many seniors resist getting a hearing aid, but it can help keep cognitive decline at bay.
Healthy Lifestyle May Offset Genetic Risk of Dementia
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce your chances of getting dementia, even if you have a high genetic risk.
8 Ways to Minimize What’s Bad about Social Media and Keep What’s Good
According to an expert on the hazards of social media, you don’t need to give up social media entirely. Here’s her advice on how to avoid the pitfalls of social media use without sacrificing the benefits you derive from it.
Study Finds Psychiatric Diagnosis to Be ‘Scientifically Meaningless’
Modern psychiatry operates by making diagnoses and then treating patients according to these labels. New research has found these diagnostic categories to be flawed and contradictory, often with huge overlaps in symptoms.
Scandinavia May Not be the Happiest Place on Earth, After All
The Nordic countries consistently rank as the happiest countries and are held in esteem as models for how to live the good life. However, a recent study found that people living in parts of southern Europe rank higher in mental well-being than their northern neighbors.
Women Who Stop Drinking Alcohol Improve Mental Health, Study Finds
Many women drink alcohol to combat stress. But new evidence suggests that stopping that daily drinking habit is a better way to improve women’s mental health.
Unexpected Evidence of a Brain Microbiome
It’s always been assumed that the brain is a sterile environment, but the presence of bacteria in the brain is making researchers rethink this idea. It seems that the brain may have its own microbiome similar to that found in the intestines.
8 Reasons to Try Low-Carb for Mental Health
A growing body of evidence lends credence to the idea that high-sugar diets jeopardize brain health while low-carbohydrate diets support it.
Your Insurance Company Doesn’t Want You to Access Mental Health Care
It seems that insurance companies intentionally make it difficult to seek mental health help. When researchers called 360 psychiatrists on Blue Cross Blue Shield’s in-network provider, for various reasons they were unable to make appointments with 74% of providers on the list. Shockingly, some of the listed phone numbers were for retail shops or fast food restaurants!
‘Save Your Money’: No Evidence Brain Health Supplements Work, Say Experts
You may have read news items with similar headlines this past week.
I read the report these articles are referring to, The Real Deal on Brain Health Supplements, and found headlines like the one above misleading on many levels.
AARP assembled this report’s team of experts and paid them to participate.
Several of these experts acknowledged conflicts of interest since they receive regular consulting fees from drug companies.
A major point these news stories don’t mention is that this report focused on the efficacy of supplements for stopping, slowing, or treating Alzheimer’s and dementia, not for general cognitive health or mental well-being.
There are numerous supplement studies mentioned in this report that support the opposite — that supplements do offer brain benefits.
(Specifically mentioned are vitamins B, D, and E, coenzyme Q10, curcumin/turmeric, flavonoids/cocoa, huperzine A, MCT oil/coconut oil, fish oil, and phosphatidylserine.)
One thing we do agree with is that many brain supplement manufacturers are guilty of making exaggerated or false marketing claims.
This is why consumers should do their homework before buying any supplements.
You can learn what to look for when buying supplements in our article How to Choose Supplements that Work.
If you’d like to read the AARP report, you can view or download a PDF of it here.
How to Make Grilling Healthier
Summer is in full swing and many of us will be firing up our outdoor grills this holiday weekend. Cooked meat contains carcinogenic compounds, but there are easy steps you can take to make your barbecuing healthier and even more delicious.
Study: Deep Breathing Techniques Improve Focus, Keep Brain ‘Youthful’
Deep breathing stimulates the release of brain chemicals that improve focus and grow new connections between brain cells.
Why Lead Is Dangerous, and the Damage It Does
Lead exposure is not a thing of the past. This dangerous neurotoxin is harmful to people of all ages, but is especially detrimental for the brain development of children.
Fake It Till You Make It: 5 Cheats from Neuroscience
The expression “fake it until you make it” has some merit. Here are 5 ways, based on neuroscience, to trick your brain into making real-life changes.
Do Something You Are Bad At — Your Brain Will Love It
Typically, we hide our weaknesses, play up our strengths, and do things we are good at. But the human brain thrives and grows only when challenged.
How Does Your Brain Take Out the Trash?
The brain has its own system for clearing away debris called the glymphatic system. This poorly-understood system may hold the key to neurodegenerative diseases.
Can Gingivitis Cause Alzheimer’s Disease? [A Scientific Review]
We don’t fully understand the cause of Alzheimer’s which is why 99% of Alzheimer’s drugs fail. Recent research suggests that advanced gum disease may be a root cause of Alzheimer’s.
Commonly Prescribed Drugs Are Tied to Nearly 50% Higher Dementia Risk in Older Adults, Study Says
Anticholinergic drugs work by blocking the action of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter of memory and learning. A long-term study on over 280,000 people found that taking anticholinergic drugs greatly increases the risk of dementia.
Healthy, Stress-Busting Fat Found Hidden in Dirt
Researchers have discovered a fat in soil-dwelling bacteria. This fat is thought to positively impact mental well-being and increase resistance to stress by reducing brain inflammation.
What Is a Mental Disorder? Depends on Who You Ask
Mental disorders are not clearly defined, but fall on a continually changing spectrum. Even the experts disagree on which mental conditions should be considered a mental illness.
How the Online World Is Affecting the Human Brain
The effects of the internet and the digital world on the brain are poorly understood. Scientists from around the world are studying how being online affects attention, concentration, memory, and social intelligence.
Lack of Sleep Linked to Mental Health Problems for College Students
An analysis of over 100,000 college students found that loneliness, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thinking increased significantly when they did not get adequate sleep.
Heart Disease Can Have Long-term Impact on the Brain
There’s an adage that “what’s good for the heart is good for the brain.” A diagnosis of heart disease puts you at greater risk for cognitive decline later in life.
How Your Keto Diet Is Making You Depressed
A new study reveals that a high-fat diet, whether it be a keto diet or the Standard American Diet (SAD), can cause depression due to excessive amounts of palmitic acid.
Psychiatrists Call for Warnings Over Antidepressant Withdrawal
Current guidelines suggest that most people should be able to withdraw from antidepressants over a period of four weeks. Some psychiatrists are finally acknowledging that this tapering schedule is way too aggressive.
Researchers Have Investigated “Derailment” as a Cause and Consequence of Depression
When life changes to the point that you lose your thread of inner continuity, you may experience derailment — a feeling of disconnection between who you are today and who used to be. This can be a cause and a symptom of depression.
Yoga as a Remedy for Our Stressed, Sedentary Digital Age
Yoga can alleviate the stress, anxiety, and aches and pains that come with too much sitting in front of our electronic devices. This article includes four essential moves you can do at your desk or in your office.
Facebook Admits It Poses Mental Health Risk – But Says Using Site More Can Help
A former Facebook executive admits, “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works.” Facebook, however, continues to design features that make it addictive.
9 Shocking Things That Happen to Your Brain When You Get a Phone or Email Notification
Seeing or hearing an alert can trigger a cascade of emotions and neurochemical reactions. This, in turn, can result in stress, anxiety, anger, and loss of focus.
Depression and Anxiety Prescriptions are Climbing Nationwide
The use of prescription medications for depression and anxiety is on the rise in some areas of the country. See how your state ranks.
Practicing Hygge: What We Can Learn from the Danish Culture on Mental Health
Denmark is consistently rated as one of the happiest countries. It may be due, in part, to their embrace of hygge, an attitude of living with a sense of comfort, coziness, and peace.
How Stress Leads to Facebook Addiction
Relying only on Facebook “friends” for emotional support during times of stress puts users at risk for developing a pathological dependence on it.
5 Ways to Challenge Your Perfectionism
Perfectionists set unattainable standards and never feel good enough. Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen covers 5 ways to challenge the mindset of perfectionism.
‘Game of Thrones’ Post-Series Blues Are Real, and Here’s How to Beat Them
It’s completely normal to feel blue when your favorite show is over. Psychologists call this a parasocial breakup.
Meta-Study Suggests Anxiety Can Be Reduced by Altering Gut Bacteria, but Not With Probiotics
Changing diet is significantly more effective than taking probiotic supplements to reduce anxiety symptoms.
Is ‘Gaming Disorder’ An Illness? WHO Says Yes, Adding It to Its List Of Diseases
The World Health Organization now officially considers “gaming disorder” a behavioral addiction.
All About Amalgam Fillings: Are They Safe? Should You Have Them Removed?
Here is an evidence-based look at the controversial use of amalgam fillings which contain mercury, a known neurotoxin.
Alzheimer’s: Brain Changes May Occur 34 Years Before Symptoms
Emerging research suggests that some Alzheimer’s-related brain mechanisms start many years before diagnosis.
How Our Brains & Guts Work Together for Mental Health
New research is shedding light on how the gut plays a much bigger role in mental health than ever suspected.
Dietary Fats Entering the Brain May Explain Link Between Obesity and Depression
Depressed patients who are obese are less likely to respond to antidepressants. There’s evidence that a diet high in unhealthy fats can affect areas of the brain related to depression.
Healthier by Design: Impact of Windows and Sunlight on Health, Productivity, Stress
Workers in windowless offices are less happy, healthy, and productive than their colleagues with steady sources of natural light.
CBD Could Help Deliver Medications to the Brain
CBD, a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, may be used as a “Trojan horse” to help medications get across the blood-brain barrier and into the brain.
Scientists Discover a Major Lasting Benefit of Growing Up Outside the City
There’s a strong correlation between low exposure to nature during childhood and increased risk of anxiety and depression in adulthood.
To Reduce Dementia Risk, Eating Well and Exercising Do More Than Puzzles and Pills
New World Health Organization guidelines state that following a healthy Mediterranean-style diet and exercising do more to reduce cognitive decline than taking supplements or playing brain-boosting games.
How Two NBA Players, Larry Sanders and Royce White, are Bringing Awareness to Mental Health in Sports
Athletes are taught to “push through” when they experience mental health issues. Two NBA stars explain how the culture of sports contributes to the stigma around mental illness.
Your Microbiome On Drugs
It’s not only antibiotics that disrupt your microbiome. Nearly a quarter of other drugs tested, including antipsychotics, calcium channel blockers, antihistamines, proton pump inhibitors, thyroid medications, blood thinners, NSAIDs, and anti-diabetics like metformin, had noticeable negative effects on gut bacteria.
Is Your Job Hazardous to Your Mental Health? Grade How Your Workplace Stacks Up on Mental Wellness
Collectively, we are profoundly dissatisfied at work. Seventy percent of the workforce is actively seeking a new job. Find out how your job measures up on mental health awareness and learn what you can do to make your situation better.
Want to Fall Asleep Faster? Military Pilots Use This Hack to Sleep Anywhere in 2 Minutes or Less
Using this relaxation technique, 96% of pilots learned how to fall asleep within 120 seconds even while sitting up or with distractions like gunfire in the background. If you struggle with chronic insomnia, you can easily employ this technique at home.
When You Should Use Self-Help Programs and When to Skip Them
Self-help programs can give people the nudge they need to make healthy changes, but a surprising number contain “potentially harmful” advice.
Stressing About Aging Damages Your Brain, Shortens Your Life
Your attitude towards aging affects how your mind and body function, even down to the cellular level.
Richard Branson’s 8 Keys to Happiness and Success
According to the world’s happiest billionaire, happiness isn’t the result of success, but happiness from within can support your becoming successful.
Why We Need a President Who Cares About Food
Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan joins Dr. Mark Hyman to discuss the economic impact of our chronic disease epidemic, the state of our country’s food system, and how we can join together to make a positive change in the policies that impact our health, regardless of political affiliation.
Dual Studies Offer Incredible Insights into Connection Between Depression and the Gut
Two new studies add to the growing body of evidence that links depression with mechanisms in our “second brain,” our intestinal tract.
The Surprising Connection Between Brain Injuries and Crime
Upwards of 80% of people in the US criminal justice system have had a traumatic brain injury compared to 5% in the general public.
FDA Adds Boxed Warning for Risk of Serious Injuries Caused by Sleepwalking with Certain Prescription Insomnia Medicines
Insomnia drugs such as Lunesta, Sonata, and Ambien have caused a string of deaths while users sleepwalk, sleepdrive, and engage in other hazardous activities.
‘This is Dementia’ Documentary Premieres May 1 on Netflix
This documentary offers a sensitive look at the causes of dementia, misinformation surrounding the disease, and the personal experiences of those touched by it.
We Now Have More Evidence of a Worrying Link Between Obesity and Smaller Brains
An MRI analysis of over 12,000 adults found that carrying extra belly fat was linked to a worrying amount of brain shrinkage among study participants.
Experiences of ‘Ultimate Reality’ or ‘God’ Confer Lasting Benefits to Mental Health
According to research conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers, “God encounter experiences“, whether achieved spontaneously or initiated by a psychedelic substance, provided lasting mental benefits in 75% of participants.
Should You, Your Mom, and Your Dog Be Using CBD?
CBD products are being sold as a treatment for a wide array of conditions including anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, dementia, and addictions. But, so far, the science has not caught up with the hype.
How to Stop Your Smartphone from Hurting Your Health
Smartphones are designed to keep you hooked on their use. Here are some ways to take control of your cell phone to make it work for you, rather than against you.
Allergy Season Is Getting Longer and Nastier Each Year
If it seems that allergy season is coming earlier, lasting longer, and growing more severe, it’s not your imagination. Now there’s science to back up that hunch.
A Spring Cleaning Primer: 15 Ways to Get Organized in 5 Minutes or Less
Clutter creates stress and makes it harder to think. The Breathing Room Organization presents quick and easy ways to declutter that don’t require you to “Marie Kondo” your life.
That Mental Health App Might Share Your Data Without Telling You
A Look at Luxury Resorts That Now Offer Brain Health Programs
Brain health programs are becoming a popular niche of the wellness tourism trend. These programs aren’t inexpensive, but may be a worthwhile investment for your brain health.
Abundance of Information Narrows Our Collective Attention Span
Research confirms that too much information is overwhelming our brains.
Sick and Tired of the Culture of Contempt? Here Are 5 Ways You Can Subvert It
Feeling contempt may feel good for the moment, but, in the long run, it’s a fast track to unhappiness.
Don’t Underestimate the Health Benefits of E-Bikes
Riding an e-bike (electric bike) provides cognitive and psychological benefits equal to riding a traditional bicycle. (Deane, an avid e-biker, was happy to hear this!)
The Brain Needs Animal Fat
If you eschew animal products, you aren’t getting the DHA your brain needs from diet alone. DHA supplementation is critical.