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New and Noteworthy: What I Read This Week—Edition 161

Research of the Week

Omicron outcompetes Delta in hosts with previous COVID immune history..

Locating a forest outside a prison improves mental health and behavior inside the prison, even if the prisoners can’t see the forest.

Lower blood insulin levels, lower chance of getting COVID.

What you believe about aging might affect how you age.

A gene that reduces sugar absorption.

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The Lost Art of Play: Reclaiming a Primal Tradition

Experts have long studied the benefits of play for children, and the evolutionary logic is undeniable.

Play introduces and hones practical skills like hunting, cooking, building, child care, and health care. Playing doctor? Cops and robbers? And so on.

Play teaches children social boundaries. If you’re nice enough but not too much, you can get your way without being a pushover or turning off potential friends.

Play teaches you to cooperate. If you don’t play well with others, other people won’t play with you. That’s no fun.

Play makes the body stronger, faster, and fitter.

Play is very important for child development. The benefits are well-established. Trust the Science. But what about play for adults?

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6 Mind-Body Approaches for Menopause

Perimenopause and menopause comes with a complex web of physical, psychological, and social symptoms.

The treatment usually prescribed by doctors, hormone therapy (HT), is controversial and not appropriate for some women. I won’t get into the HT debate here—Mark did a great job covering the pros and cons recently. Suffice it to say that HT isn’t the answer for everyone, and it’s not a panacea by any means.

Whether or not they choose to go the HT route, many women desire additional support during perimenopause and beyond. For the sake of keeping this post from becoming a novella, I’m going to focus on mind-body therapies today.

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New and Noteworthy: What I Read This Week—Edition 160

Research of the Week

Restricting carbs augments weight loss-induced improvements in glucose control and liver fat in type 2 diabetics.

Researchers use CRISPR to make mice more metabolically inefficient and burn more fat.

Doing pushups and squats throughout the day can make your brain work better.

Butter oil and weight gain.

Vitamin D in honey.

Whole eggs are more effective than egg whites for fat loss and muscle gain when resistance training.

Fighting the replication crisis.

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Dear Mark: Should Teens Take Creatine?

One of the most common supplement questions I receive is about creatine. Namely, is it good for you? Is it safe? And, today, should teens be using it?

You should run any new supplement or practice by your doctor, but my quick and short answer is “yes.” In general, teens can safely take it with some medical exceptions. Teens can greatly benefit from it. Teens, especially those who don’t eat any animal products, should consider taking creatine. But I don’t only do quick and short answers here. Let’s dig into the science of teen creatine use to determine exactly why it’s so beneficial and safe. First, the question:
Hi Mark,

I have 2 sons who are athletes and asking me about Creatine.
One is 21 and plays college football… and the other is 15 and plays football and baseball.
My youngest one is hitting me up to start taking Creatine. Do you have feedback on this? Or an article you can pint me to that you have written. I have always been against it, only because I don’t know enough about it.

Thanks for your help,
Alicia Murray
Now the details. To begin with, let’s dispel some popular myths about creatine.

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Friends, Health, and Longevity: Live Longer with a Little Help from Your Friends?

Humans are inherently social creatures. We know this. Looking at our species through an evolutionary lens, we tend to talk about our need for social connection as it relates to survival. Our ancestors needed to work in teams to hunt, collect water and firewood, build shelters, rear young, keep watch for predators, and all the other business of staying alive. While that’s undoubtedly true, our need for affiliation runs much deeper than those practical concerns. Our health and well-being quite literally depend on having strong social bonds with others. 

Even when our survival is assured thanks to safe housing, easy access to clean water and plentiful food, medical care, and financial security, lonely or socially isolated individuals are likely to die sooner. On the flip side, a robust social support network is associated with better physical and mental health outcomes and longer lives. 

Friends, it turns out, have a profound impact on health and longevity. Of course, it’s not just about the number of years we have but how we spend them, and good friends also make our lives more enjoyable in countless ways.

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