Newsletter #022: Increased risk of premature death even with moderate alcohol consumption 🥂
Welcome to the newest edition of the humanOS newsletter! This, of course, is where we share our own work, plus the cool research and media that we stumbled upon this week. 🤓
This week on the blog, we examined a new study that tested the impact of prolonged physical inactivity on the nervous system, using an animal model of motor deprivation. We tend to think of our body as being ruled by our brain, in the sense that signals from the brain direct the actions of our skeletal muscles as we interact with the world around us. But this study adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that this relationship is actually reciprocal. Our muscles, when they are exercised - particularly the larger muscles of our legs - send signals to the nervous system that are crucial to the formation of new brain cells.
Research like this serves as a major reminder for me that physical activity isn’t just about looking better or being able to run faster, it’s also part of maintaining a healthy and functional mind, which is frankly much more important.
This Week’s Research Highlights
🐭 Chronic whole-body heat treatment relieves atherosclerotic lesions and enhances survival time in mice.
Researchers fed adult mice a high-fat diet designed to induce atherosclerosis for 120 days. Then, the animals were submitted to either whole-body heat therapy (104 °F) or sham heat treatment (98.6 °F), once a week for eight weeks. The mice that received the heat treatment experienced dramatic reductions in LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, oxidative stress, and fasting glucose. The animals were also leaner and lived longer than those who got the sham treatment. Effects were attributed to the anti-inflammatory and anti-senescent impact of the heat shock response.
Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis examined two large data sets, including a total of more than 400,000 participants, which provided information on alcohol consumption and mortality follow-up. The researchers found that daily drinking, even at low levels that have been deemed healthy by modern guidelines, was associated with increased mortality. Thye found that consuming 1-2 drinks four or more times per week increased risk of premature death by 23%, compared to drinking three times a week or less. This increase in risk was consistent across age groups. The researchers suggest that frequent moderate alcohol consumption may modestly reduce cardiovascular mortality, but this benefit is outweighed by the increase in cancer mortality associated with alcohol.
Researchers had eight healthy male subjects perform an experimental protocol in which they consumed either 5 or 15 grams of vitamin C-enriched gelatin or a placebo control, then completed 6 minutes of rope-skipping one hour later. This pattern of supplementation was repeated three times per day for three days. When the subjects took gelatin, they showed higher circulating levels of amino acids associated with collagen, which peaked one hour after being administered the supplement. When the researchers extracted serum samples and applied it to engineered ligaments, they found that serum from subjects who had taken gelatin resulted in increased collagen content and improved mechanics. Finally, participants who took 15 grams of gelatin showed double the amino-terminal propeptide of collagen I in their blood, a biomarker indicating boosted collagen synthesis. These findings suggest that increasing dietary intake of the amino acid components of collagen, with the cofactor vitamin C, may improve collagen synthesis and strengthen connective tissues.
A report from the CDC tracked data from in-person government surveys conducted with thousands of American adults, who were asked what they had eaten in the past 24 hours. They found that 37% of adults said they'd eaten fast food at least once that day. Surprisingly, wealthier individuals were somewhat more likely to have done so. Specifically, about 32% of lower-income people reported having had fast food, but 42% of those with higher incomes had had fast food on the day they were surveyed. Encouragingly, the report suggests that Americans tend to consume less fast food as they get older, with only 24% of those over the age of 60 saying they had had fast food prior to the survey.
Videos We Loved This Week
- Russell Foster, Debra Skene, and Stafford Lightman. The science of sleep: melatonin to neural pathways. Via The Royal Institution.
- Bryan Walsh. Athletic hormones. Via WellnessFX.
Products We Are Enjoying
Ginny says: I always have to pick up 2-3 jars of this stuff when I go to Trader Joe’s. Very simple product (basically just roasted eggplant, peppers, and tomato paste with spices) but highly versatile. Makes any veggie more delicious. It is super tasty but not very energy dense (15 calories per tablespoon / 20 g), so you can use a decent amount even if you are trying to watch your food intake. Obviously, way cheaper to buy at the store than to order online, but if you aren’t near a Trader Joe’s you can get it on Amazon through the above link.
New humanOS Content and Features
- Blog: The Surprising Role of Leg Exercise in Forming New Brain Cells. By Ginny Robards.
- Site Update: Our awesome programming team has made some changes to the site to make it easier and more fun to use. This optimization will be most obvious for our mobile users.
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As you can see from the above gif, scrolling through the catalog is waaaaay smoother.
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And the sidebar toggling is as well!
This should help everyone navigate through our content more easily, and use it wherever they go. 😃