Newsletter #024: Rosemary water as a natural memory booster 🌿
Welcome to the newest edition of the humanOS newsletter! This is where we share our own work, and the interesting research and media that we stumbled upon this week. 🤓
This week on humanOS Radio, Dan interviewed James Clear. James is an author and entrepreneur who is focused on habits, decision-making, and continuous improvement. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Time magazine, and other major media outlets. In his latest book, “Atomic Habits,” James draws upon a wide array of evidence from psychology, biology, and cognitive neuroscience to construct a guide for building and reinforcing good habits and abolishing bad habits.
So what do we mean by habits? James defines habits as behaviors that are repeated enough times to be nearly automatic, and not demanding cognitive effort or willpower. Like brushing your teeth, or heading to the gym at 5:00 pm every day, or making a green smoothie every day for breakfast. These automatic processes, which are mostly mundane things that we take for granted, are actually foundational to all of our goals.
The problem, of course, is that we generally don’t see the immediate payoff for any of these behaviors. You don’t drop twenty pounds just switching from regular to diet soda one day. It is only after you’ve committed to these behaviors for a while - after your efforts have compounded, as James puts it - that we start to see the difference. That is why we need to develop a system to assess our current habits and build better ones, and this is where “Atomic Habits” comes into play. This is easily one of the best interviews Dan has done so far, with tons of useful information. I highly recommend you give it a listen!
This Week’s Research Highlights
Disturbances in the circadian system are common in depression, and it is thought that this may be due to reduced sensitivity to light in depressed individuals. To examine the effect of antidepressants on the circadian system, researchers had participants complete two melatonin suppression assessments. One was performed after the subjects took a single dose of the SSRI citalopram, and the other after taking a placebo. After taking citalopram, participants showed a 47% increase in melatonin suppression in response to light exposure. This suggests that antidepressants could work in some patients by enhancing circadian light sensitivity, and also that exposure to artificial light at night may render these drugs less effective.
Researchers randomly allocated 80 healthy subjects to consume either 250 mL of rosemary water (the product is No. 1 Rosemary Water — apparently Henry Cavil is a fan) or plain mineral water. They then completed a series of cognitive tasks, while blood flow in the brain was being monitored via near-infrared spectroscopy. The group drinking rosemary water showed a 15% average improvement in tasks that tested long-term and working memory. Furthermore, the experimental group showed an increase in levels of deoxygenated red blood cells flowing through their brain, which the researchers suggest is indicative of improved oxygen extraction. The team attributes these effects to 1,8-cineole and rosmarinic acid, both of which were compounds identified in the rosemary water.
🤰🏻 Former prisoners of war may epigenetically transmit their trauma to their offspring - and it takes a toll on their children’s future health and survival.
Researchers affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research analyzed detailed data for 4,593 children of 1,407 former Union prisoners of war during the American Civil War, and compared that data to 15,310 children from 4,960 non-POW veterans. They found that sons born to soldiers who were subjected to more severe conditions as POWs had shorter lifespans, sons of fathers who were not POWs or who were quickly released from captivity. By age 45, sons of POWs who suffered serious privations were 11% more likely to die, compared to sons of non-POWs. This is thought to be an example of intergenerational transmission of trauma, and is supported by a prior Swedish study which found sex-specific epigenetic effects in sons of men who suffered serious food shortages before their children were conceived.
Podcasts We Loved This Week
- Javier Gonzalez: Breakfast vs Fasting, Weight Loss & Personalized Nutrition. Via Dr. Bubbs Performance Podcast.
- Lyle McDonald: Fat Loss Adaptations, Water Retention & Leptin Via Sigma Nutrition Radio with Danny Lennon.
Products We Are Enjoying
Ginny says: Okay, this might sound sort of weird, but I literally use this product every day. Here’s why: I am a big fan of fresh fruit, but obviously it can be tricky to find high-quality produce at a reasonable price (this is especially true as the weather gets chilly). So frozen fruit is a mainstay, but I don’t like how watery it gets as it defrosts in the refrigerator. That’s why I recommend using containers with built-in strainers - that way you can easily separate and pour out the fluid once your fruit has defrosted. I have the Sistema containers, but this looks like a good option as well (plus you can get it with Amazon Prime!). 🍒🍓🍍
New humanOS Content and Features
- New Feature: The How-to Guide to Chrononutrition (When is the best time to eat?) is now available for Pro users! More guides coming soon - stay tuned 👀
humanOS Catalog Feature of the Week
This week, we’d like to highlight our how-to guide for chrononutrition. We often fixate on what we are eating, when we are discussing diet and lifestyle, but we are gradually appreciating that when we eat also has a significant impact on our health and our daily performance.
This guide will help show you how to optimize your food timing, in alignment with the latest scientific research, to maintain robust circadian alignment and to ensure you are performing at your very best.
(PS: If you’re looking for a deeper dive into the subject of nutrient timing and other aspects of circadian physiology, please refer to our Circadian OS Program.)