We all need to find our happy place, our sanctuary of calm and respite from the everyday. I go into space. I have even constructed my own craft, for that purpose. Fully functional and secure, it’s also carbon neutral, so there’s no guilt attached to these trips.
Who doesn’t want a space adventure? The clear night sky inspires a profound sense of awe and wonder in us all. But the next time you look up and marvel at the vastness of the cosmos, marvel too at the structures within your brain that enable you to experience those emotions.
In 2016, Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi won a Nobel Prize for his discovery of the mechanism of autophagy, the process the body uses to clear out and recycle old cell components. Making this discovery was phenomenal — but making it work is easy, and something you can do yourself.
Sometimes described as “cellular housekeeping”, autophagy — meaning “self-eating” in Greek - is a process that takes place in all mammalian cells and tissues.
It was in the 1960s that researchers first became aware that each cell can destroy its own components.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” was an advertising slogan created in 1944 by General Foods, makers of the breakfast cereal Grape Nuts, based on no evidence whatsoever.
Still, it was catchy and memorable, so it got picked up by nutrition experts who decided to run with it and are still out there running with it down through the decades.
As a nutrition consultant, I hear people regularly say that they have no appetite first thing in the morning. Yet they feel they should eat something anyway.
Oh, the irony. So many people overeat and snack constantly…
Tired all the time, wiped out, exhausted, fatigued… my clients all have different ways of saying it, but the problem is essentially the same. As a nutrition consultant, I encounter the same health issues time and again. Top of that list, by a mile, is low energy, or however you prefer to put it.
Most of these people are fairly young — usually in their 30s or 40s. Sometimes they are only in their 20s. “You should be bouncing off the walls!” I occasionally comment, and they always agree.
I sometimes think of my clients as perfectly healthy, but not…
Your brain is like a powerful command centre, surrounded by a wall to prevent enemy elements from breaching security. Damage to the wall undermines the strength of the command centre. The blood brain barrier is that wall. If compromised, the brain is left vulnerable to assault and subsequent mental health problems.
“Leaky brain” may sound comically implausible, but increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a well-known phenomenon in neuroscience.
You may be familiar with leaky gut syndrome. This is where the gut lining becomes damaged, and all sorts of undesirables — toxins, undigested food particles, bacteria — are…
One of the most exciting recent developments in modern medicine is fecal microbiota transplant (FMT). This is where fecal matter is collected from a healthy donor (it’s ok; it’s very well screened) and implanted into the colon of the recipient, via the most obvious direct route.
FMT is highly effective in the treatment of antibiotic-resistant gastrointestinal infection caused by the bacterium Clostridium difficile, or C. diff. C. diff frequently arises after a course of antibiotics and is often fatal. FMT works by altering the patient’s microbiome, the collection of living microorganisms in the gut.
The success rate for FMT as…
Is that problem skin you see in the mirror, or the reflection of a problem gut? If you have tried pills, potions, and lotions, all to no effect, perhaps you’re looking at the problem from the wrong end.
You may not always love the skin you’re in, but there are countless microorganisms that do and are happy to make it their home. Just as the gut houses its own microbiome — colonies of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and others — the skin has its own living microbiome.
“Cumulative evidence” shows that there is bidirectional communication between gut and skin and that…
Feeding potato chips to rats makes them want more, even when they are already full. Humans are remarkably similar. Open that bag and you know how it will end. Even so, go easy on yourself; you’re not weak, you’re normal. Your brain is responding the way it is programmed to respond. The trick is to short-circuit the system — the brain’s reward system.
Potato chips (or crisps, depending on where you live) are a typical snack food, one of many available to purchase at an outlet near you. The permutations of bagged snacks are boundless, but in essence they are…
You exercise to keep your muscles strong and your stamina high, along with your buff ratings. Perhaps you also exercise for your cardiovascular fitness. Now here’s further motivation to move that body: exercise changes your brain chemistry to promote better mood and memory.
Exercise works, and not just because of the buzz you get from having gone out and done something. Yes, exercise triggers the release of endorphins, chemicals that create a sense of euphoria. But there is much more to it than that.
Beyond the runner’s high lies a biochemical process that is part of the brain’s growth and…
Sugar makes you fat, which is bad enough. But can it really make you depressed? Clinically depressed, even? The evidence is compelling, and it’s a journey that starts with a mild blood sugar imbalance and can end with serious mental illness.
Each step of that journey is fuelled by sugar, or more specifically, glucose.
Blood sugar imbalance (aka dysglycemia) is a common health problem, one that may be familiar to you. Ask yourself: How do you feel if you eat no food for three or more hours? Does the mere thought induce a sense of mild panic? …