Newsletter #018: Health Benefits of Magnesium, Exercise, and Vacation Time 🏖️
Happy weekend friends, and welcome to yet another humanOS newsletter! 🍻Here, as always, is where we share our own work as well as the various cool studies that grabbed our attention and found their way onto our social media channels.
This week on the blog, Ginny investigated a complicated and controversial subject - the health effects of alcohol consumption. We have been told for years that heavy drinking is bad for you (duh) but that “moderate” alcohol intake may actually be good for you, and even healthier than abstaining. But are moderate drinkers truly healthier because of the ethanol that they consume, or is some other factor at play? Check out the blog, where we pick apart what the research seems to say about alcohol - and find what it really says on the subject.
Additionally, this blog includes an interview that Dan conducted with Todd White, the CEO and founder of Dry Farm Wines. Dry Farms Wines curates artisanal wines from all over the world that are committed to natural winemaking practices with minimal intervention. This means dry farmed (grapes grown without irrigation), low alcohol content (<12.5%), and sugar-free (keto-friendly 😍). If you wanna experience this for yourself, click here and you’ll get an extra bottle for just one cent!
This Week’s Research Highlights
Researchers analyzed cross-sectional data from 2695 participants in the Framingham Heart Study, who were free of cardiovascular disease at baseline. They estimated total magnesium intake (both from food and supplements) in each participant from food frequency questionnaires, and cardiac imaging was used to assess coronary artery calcification (CAC) and abdominal aortic calcification (AAC). The researchers found that for every 50 mg increment of total magnesium, their risk of coronary artery calcification was reduced by 22%, and abdominal aortic calcification was reduced by 12%. Similarly, the analysis found that the odds of having any coronary artery calcification were 58% lower in individuals with the highest magnesium intake than in those with the lowest magnesium intake.
Fifteen participants completed, on separate days, three different conditions in randomized order: 1) 4 hours of uninterrupted sitting, 2) 4 hours of sitting with 2-minute walking breaks every 30 minutes, 3) 4 hours of sitting with 8-minute walking breaks every 2 hours. During each visit, participants were fitted with special headbands that measured blood flow to their brain via ultrasound. During all of the conditions, the researchers saw signs of reduced blood flow due to the prolonged sitting. However, the walking breaks restored normal blood flow to the brain, with the best results from the more frequent 2-minute bouts. The researchers conclude, "Results indicate that prolonged, uninterrupted sitting in healthy desk workers reduces cerebral blood flow, however this is offset when frequent, short-duration walking breaks are incorporated.”
Sometimes studies have perplexing results, and digging into the reasons behind these puzzling findings generates useful information. The Helsinki Businessmen Study Intervention Trial was a multifactorial risk reduction intervention for healthy men with at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor. The 5-year intervention successfully improved risk factors (less smoking, healthier body weight, more exercise, etc), but total mortality was nevertheless consistently higher in the intervention group, compared to the control group up to 25 years after the trial. When the researchers went back and analyzed baseline data, they noticed that there was a significant association between shorter vacation time and mortality. Specifically, taking less than three weeks of vacation yearly was associated with 37% higher risk of early mortality in the intervention group. This suggests that even with a relatively healthy lifestyle, getting some downtime is important. It might even save your life.
Videos We Loved This Week
- Satchin Panda: Health lies in healthy circadian habits.
- Samuele Marcora: Mind over muscle? Limits to endurance performance.
Products We Are Enjoying
Ginny says: These jars are incredibly versatile. I use them all the time for fermented veggies, smoothies, oatmeal, chia pudding, and beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). Compared to plastic, glass is generally a safer choice for food storage because they do not leach hormone-disrupting chemicals when heated or in prolonged contact with food. They’re also more readily used and recycled, so a better bet for our environment as well.
New humanOS Content
- Blog and podcast: Is “Moderate” Drinking Really Good for You? Podcast with Todd White.