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Ember P.

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Neurons have multiple tasks

It is a myth that specific parts of the human brain have specific psychological jobs. The myth claims that the brain has separate parts, each with a dedicated mental function - one part for vision, another for memory, etc.

Today, we know the brain is a massive network of neurons with multiple jobs, not a single psychological purpose. Not all neurons can do everything, but most neurons do more than one thing.

@embp20

That Is Not How Your Brain Works - Issue 98: Mind - Nautilus

nautil.us

This myth is the idea that the human brain evolved in three layers.

  • The deepest layer is known as the lizard brain and said to house our instincts.
  • The middle layer - the limbic system - allegedly contains emotions inherited from ancient mammals.
  • The topmost layer, named the neocortex, is uniquely human and supposedly lets us regulate our brutish emotions and instincts.

Modern research has revealed that the brain doesn't evolve in layers but is built from a manufacturing plan using the same neurons.

The idea that your brain reacts to events in the world is a myth. The idea supposes that you go through your day with parts of your brain in the off position, but when something happens around you, those parts become active and light up with activity.

But the brain doesn't work by stimulus and response. All your neurons are firing all the time at various rates. Your brain uses all its available information to predict what will happen next and make corrections outside of your awareness.

This myth states that there's a clear dividing line between the disease of the body, such as cardiovascular disease, and the disease of the mind, such as depression. Philosopher René Descartes popularized the idea that body and mind are separate.

But neuroscientists have found that the same brain networks responsible for controlling your body are involved in creating your mind. Every mental experience has physical causes, and physical changes in your body often have mental consequences.

Cheek Dimples

Found on both sides of the mouth for some of us, cheek dimples are considered attractive and ‘genetically dominant’. Around 37 percent of the population are having cheek dimples (in a study of 2300 people).

Cheek dimples are caused by a change in a particular facial muscle called zygomaticus major. Genetics too play an important part for a face to have dimples, which can develop over a lifetime and also disappear.

Cheek Dimples: How They Form, and How to Get Them

healthline.com

Cheek dimples are associated with beauty and some cultures consider it a sign of good luck. They also help us communicate better and recognize the intensity of facial gestures in a person.

Some people also opt for surgery to get these cheek bends, something called dimpleplasty.

Fruit juice vs fizzy drinks

The amount of sugar that can be found in fruit juice is significantly higher than in fizzy drinks. Studies suggest that too much sugar can put us at risk for health problems such as obesity, diabetes, or tooth decay.

However, pure fruit juice does contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that cannot be found in fizzy drinks. Generally, fruit juices are better for you in terms of warding off infection or inflammation and boosting your immune system.

Is fruit juice just as bad for you as fizzy drinks?

sciencefocus.com

  • The NHS recommends no more than 150 ml of fruit juice in a day. They strongly suggest to drink it with meals in order to reduce tooth damage.
  • When fruit is juiced, the 'free sugars' of the fruit is released and most of the fibre is removed.
  • It's better to eat a whole fruit instead, or you can dilute your juices to reduce the sugar proportion which can make them last longer.
The Circadian Rhythm
  • The circadian rhythm is what we call our body's masterclock. It is the timekeeper of the body which keeps the cells in our body running smoothly, helps fights against chronic diseases and assists us into having a peaceful night of sleep.
  • Our circadian rhythm is dependent on our daily routines and diet that keeps us mindful of our health.
  • Our masterclock can be found in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) in the hypothalamus. It is what controls the functioning of each bodily process.

The Science of Deep Sleep - Mindful

mindful.org

Healthy circadian rhythms rely on regularity and stability— for the timing of light, the timing of exercise, and the timing of meals.

Our bodies are accustomed to the exposure of light and darkness on a regular basis. The circadian rhythm is reset on a daily basis and it is the one that determines the healthiness of our cellular health and sleeping patterns.

  • We slowly deteriorate our health whenever we disrupt the natural cycle of our circadian rhythm. It becomes disrupted with every late nights, irregular meal times, and using our phones in the middle of the night.
  • Extreme circadian instability is what happens when we do not take care of our internal clock. It often leads to a bunch of chronic health problems such as impaired immune function, obesity, and some forms of cancer.
  • The key to reduce the risk of health problems, stability is needed.

When you lack sleep, not only does your circadian rhythm go out of sync but it also further exacerbates difficulties with attention span, mood swings, and changes in memory.

Here are some things you can do to reduce your circadian instability:

  1. Minimize the number of your night shifts
  2. Have the same sleep-wake schedule whether you're at home or during the workdays
  3. Get some sunlight after waking up to cue in your biological clock and raise alertness levels.
  • It is essentially hard to keep track of a routine during times like these; screen time has risen more than usual, meals are often late, and a lot of midnights snacking.
  • By practicing mindfulness it's easier to keep track of day-to-day habits. Mindfulness helps us by guiding us into making a choice on taking better care of ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally.
  • Practice mindfulness through breathing exercises or meditation. Recognize your thoughts and listen to what your body says.
  • Exercising close to bedtime: it can act as a stimulate and keep you from falling asleep;
  • Scanning your phone in bed: bright light tricks your body into thinking it's daytime;
  • Late-night eating;
  • Working right up until bedtime: you need to unwind;
  • Staying up late or sleeping in on the weekends;
  • Having a couple of drinks before bed: Alcohol is a sedative, but as it's metabolized, it can disrupt your slumber.

Changing Bad Sleep Habits

huffpost.com

Sit by the Water

Our body's proximity to water – large flowing rivers and the coastal regions, has been associated with positive effects on our health and wellbeing.

Just like being in nature is good for health, being near water is shown to be beneficial for the body and mind.

Blue spaces: why time spent near water is the secret of happiness

theguardian.com

Seaside Therapy

Seaside living generally has more sunlight and less pollution, promoting better health and more of vitamin D to the people living there.

People who are living near the sea also are more likely to spend time outdoors in some activity or exercise.

Restorative effect of Water

Water has a psychologically restorative effect on humans. It reduces negative mood and stress at a better rate than being in green spaces(nature).

Look at the Sea

Water is an immersive experience as we come in tune with the natural forces. The motion of the wind and the movement of water stirs our body and mind in a cognitive, positive way.

Déjà vu: The Glitch In The Matrix

Most people have experienced a sensation where while being in a situation, event, or place, we feel as if we have already experienced the same. This sensation is called déjà vu, meaning ‘already seen’ in french.

Some say these are false memories or a past-life remembrance. Others state that it is a short circuit in our brain or some activity in the ‘rhinal cortex’ of the brain.

Can Science Explain Deja Vu?

scientificamerican.com

Scientists have studied this phenomenon in the lab using hypnosis and virtual reality, concluding it to be related to memory, where we experience a feeling of familiarity as the new experience seems to be traced according to an old memory.

A new study using MRI scans suggested that déjà vu is related to decision making, and the brain may be trying to resolve a conflict in the memory index.

The placebo effect

The placebo effect happens when a person takes medication that he thinks will help, but the medication has not been proven to be effective for the specific condition.

Placebos work in about 30 percent of patients. Some placebos contain no active ingredient. Other placebos do have active ingredients but aren't proven to work on the patient's particular condition. There are even placebos in the form of surgery, injections, and other types of medical therapies.

How the Placebo Effect Works | HowStuffWorks

science.howstuffworks.com

When people know what the result of taking a pill is supposed to be, they might unconsciously change their reaction to cause that result or report that result has taken place even if it hasn't.

However, studies show that a placebo doesn't trick the brain - the brain reacts differently to a drug than a placebo. A 2004 study showed that the expectation of pain relief causes the brain's relief system to activate.

Placebos are often used in clinical drug trials to determine how well a potential medicine will work.

  • There are two different groups of subjects in a placebo-controlled trial - one receives the experimental drug and the other the placebo. Neither researchers nor subjects know which group is receiving the real drug or the placebo.
  • Some researchers are questioning the placebo-controlled trial. Not everyone thinks a drug is ineffective if the placebo performs better.
  • Other critics of the placebo-controlled trial state it's wrong to attribute all positive outcomes to the placebo because many illnesses can resolve without any treatment.
  • When a patient takes a placebo and experiences adverse side effects, it's called a nocebo effect. Patients taking active drugs have also been known to have side effects that can't be directly attributed to the drug.

A 2007 study revealed that 45 percent of doctors had prescribed a placebo at some point. Doctors believed that placebos had a therapeutic effect.

The most commonly prescribed placebos are aspirin, vitamins, and antibiotics. Doctors prescribe placebos because they have no other form of relief to offer the patient. Other times, the patient insists on taking some type of medication.

The American Medical Association created a policy concerning placebos that states that "physicians may use placebos for diagnosis or treatment only if the patient is informed of and agrees to its use."

  • Generally, doctors who prescribe placebos say that they have something they believe may help, but they don't know exactly how it will work. They don't believe they are lying to the patient, because the patient could still benefit from the placebo effect.
  • Another problem in prescribing placebos is that they have been shown to only work on half the population. The placebo effect is also short-term - it doesn't work for chronic conditions.
  • Prescribing drugs such as sedatives and antibiotics as placebos could do more harm than good. Many sedatives are habit-forming, and prescribing antibiotics may contribute to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Exercise and carbohydrate-rich diets

In exercise, carbohydrate-rich diets are often recommended to promote recovery and maximise performance.

However, research suggests such foods may not help exercise recovery. There is also a potential link with carbohydrate-rich foods and metabolic diseases.

Health Check: do you really need carbs to recover from exercise?

theconversation.com

Since late 1960, the energy status of muscles is deemed to be important in exercise performance.

Since carbohydrate is the preferred energy source for muscle contraction during intense exercise, sports nutrition guidelines recommend eating carbohydrate-rich food to maximise performance. The guidelines suggest eating one gram of carbohydrate for every kilogram of your body mass, each hour for four hours.

  • Recovery describes the processes inside the muscles that are stimulated by the stress of exercise sessions. These processes build up and result in increased endurance and muscle growth.
  • Exercise performance describes the ability to perform exercise at a specific intensity and duration.

The current nutritional recommendations for performance may not be ideal for promoting recovery.

Researchers have recently observed that limiting carbohydrate intake close to endurance training sessions might promote early muscle recovery and possibly long-term improvements in endurance.

  • Studies show high carbohydrate intakes can suppress the activation of several genes linked to exercise adaptations.
  • Eating large amounts of carbohydrate during early recovery may also interfere with fat loss.
  • Restricting carbohydrates during recovery from exercise increased fat metabolism and decreased carbohydrate metabolism.

Consuming protein when doing resistance exercise is known to benefit muscle growth. Dietary carbohydrate plays little to no role in recovery from resistance exercise.

While high carbohydrate intake have traditionally been recommended to support resistance exercise performance and recovery, several studies now show that it does not further benefit recovery processes compared to protein alone.

Carbohydrates have a potential role in the development of metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Carbohydrate-rich food is thought to overstimulate the hormone insulin by causing chronically high blood sugar levels. One of the roles of insulin is blocking the use of fats as a fuel source. Insulin also promotes the storage of excess carbohydrate as fat and reduces the body's ability to control blood sugar levels. Eating a high-carbohydrate diet may increase fat mass and decrease muscle mass.

Getting into running

You don't necessarily have to be the running type. Almost anyone can be a runner.

And with running, you don't need a membership, expensive equipment, or a qualified coach. You do need a good pair of running shoes to take care of your feet and knees. Other than that, wear what you feel good in.

Start slow, wear what you like, watch out for zombies: a beginner’s guide to running

theguardian.com

Run slow enough that you're pretty sure you could overtake yourself at a brisk walk.

The point of running is endurance, and to manage that, you have to keep your heart rate elevated for the entire period of every training run. That means erring on the side of caution and only speeding up when you hardly break a sweat 20 minutes in.

Slowly build up stamina over the first few weeks and months. To start, run three times a week for eight weeks, beginning with sessions that involve more walking than actual running, and ending with 30 minutes of non-stop jogging.

  • Your first session, run for a minute, then walk for 90 seconds and repeat the pattern eight times.
  • Four weeks later, running has increased to three sets of five minutes, with three minutes of walking in between.
  • At the end of week five, the training wheels come off, and you run for a full 20 minutes non-stop.
  • Don't worry about how you look. No one cares how sweaty you are or how slow or fast you're going.
  • Don't compare yourself with others (unless it helps). Many services will track your stats or let you join a global community of runners. Before you join them, remember why you're running and consider if it may not demotivate you instead.

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