More than one million Americans were killed by Covid-19 in just over two years, the CDC reports. But the disease has hit some segments of the U.S. population far more than others. Photo illustration: Todd Johnson
Although intermittent fasting is most widely known as a weight-loss strategy, emerging research suggests that it could have benefits for brain health and cognition. But does it actually work, are there any drawbacks and how long would you have to fast to see benefits?
WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez breaks down what’s known and what’s not about the neuroscience of intermittent fasting.
Video Timeline: 0:00 Could intermittent fasting help our brains work better and longer? 0:31 How long would you have to fast to see any potential cognitive benefits? 1:04 How intermittent fasting could affect your ability to focus 2:27 Potential mood-related benefits of intermittent fasting 2:48 How intermittent fasting can affect brain health 4:03 Potential drawbacks of intermittent fasting
The burgeoning field of “nutrigenomics” claims that the food we eat can alter our genetics. Dietitians, scientists and lifestyle companies have all hopped on the bandwagon.
Nutrigenomics (also known as nutritional genomics) is broadly defined as the relationship between nutrients, diet, and gene expression. The launch of the Human Genome Project in the 1990s and the subsequent mapping of human DNA sequencing ushered in the ‘era of big science’, jump-starting the field of nutrigenomics that we know today.
The idea is to deliver into the body bits of proteins, or antigens, from cancer cells to stimulate the immune system to attack any incipient tumors. The concept isn’t new, and it has faced skepticism. A decade ago, a Nature editorial dismissed a prominent breast cancer advocacy group’s goal of developing a preventive vaccine by 2020 as “misguided,” in part because of the genetic complexity of tumors. The editorial called the goal an “objective that science cannot yet deliver.” But now, a few teams—including one funded by the same advocacy group, the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC)—are poised to test preventive vaccines, in some cases in healthy people at high genetic risk for breast and other cancers.
The main triggers for stomach ulcers, also known as peptic ulcers or gastric ulcers, are:
Patient Experience and Satisfaction with Telemedicine During Coronavirus Disease 2019: A Multi-Institution Experience
Implementation and Evaluation of a Neurology Telemedicine Initiative at a Major Academic Medical Center
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The potential benefit of nonpharmacologic memory-boosting strategies in the mild stages
One study from a group of Boston researchers examined 32 individuals with mild memory problems, half with mild cognitive impairment and half with mild Alzheimer’s disease dementia. They found that both groups improved their memory by simply thinking about the following question when learning new information: “What is one unique characteristic of this item or personal experience that differentiates it from others?” Another study by Boston researchers found that 19 individuals with mild cognitive impairment could improve their ability to remember items at a virtual supermarket by simply thinking systematically about whether items were already in their cupboard before putting them in their shopping cart. Larger studies are needed, however, to determine if such memory strategies are generalizable.
Music, pets, robots, and the environment in the moderate to severe stages
Similarly, there are many nonpharmacological treatments that appear to provide comfort and reduce agitation in individuals with moderate to severe dementia, but larger and more rigorous studies are needed to prove or disprove their efficacy, and thereby promote more widespread utilization.
- A group of Portuguese clinicians and researchers reviewed more than 100 studies evaluating music-based interventions for people with dementia who had agitation or other behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, finding that the vast majority were efficacious with little or no side effects.
- A team of neurologists from Florida reviewed the effects of dog therapy and ownership, finding that both were safe and effective approaches to treat chronic and progressive neurological disorders.
- Other researchers found reductions in anxiety and psychoactive medication use when robot pets were given to individuals with dementia.
- A review of the built environment (the architecture of the home or facility) concluded that “specific design interventions are beneficial to the outcomes of people with dementia.”