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Coffee & Gut Health, Cognitive Dissonance, Acne, Glyphosate, and Much More

Issue 175

Good afternoon Nikkola Newsletterers!

Even though the days are shorter and the temperature is cooler, you've got to find a way to move. Sedentary behavior, common in office jobs, poses significant risks to mental health. Extended periods of sitting and limited physical movement can lead to the development of what's often referred to as "sitting disease," a term used to describe the cluster of symptoms associated with a sedentary lifestyle. This lack of physical activity has been linked to an increase in feelings of anxiety and depression.

The human body, designed for movement, experiences a range of biochemical changes when sedentary. For instance, reduced physical activity can lead to decreased blood flow and lower levels of endorphins, the natural mood lifters. This can result in a more subdued mood and increased feelings of lethargy and fatigue. Furthermore, sitting for prolonged periods can exacerbate feelings of isolation, especially in an office environment where interaction is more digital than physical. This isolation can contribute to feelings of loneliness and disconnection, further impacting mental health.

Moreover, the cognitive impacts of a sedentary lifestyle are equally concerning. Physical activity is known to stimulate brain regions involved in memory and learning, such as the hippocampus. A sedentary lifestyle, therefore, can lead to reduced cognitive function, impacting memory, attention span, and problem-solving skills. This cognitive decline can decrease work performance, leading to increased stress and a potential decrease in self-esteem and job satisfaction. Additionally, the lack of physical movement often disrupts sleep patterns, leading to poor sleep quality, which is a well-known factor in the development of mental health issues. Poor sleep can exacerbate stress, anxiety, and depression, creating a vicious cycle where mental health continues to decline.

The bottom line...find a way to move often throughout the day.

Enjoy today’s carefully crafted newsletter!

Enjoy this week's carefully curated newsletter!

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🏃‍♀️ The Warm-Up

Recent Health & Fitness Research

Acne stigmatism. A Brigham and Women's Hospital study found that people with acne, especially those with more severe conditions and darker skin tones, encounter significant stigma. This stigma impacts their personal relationships and employment opportunities, as they are often perceived negatively. The study involved digitally altering photos of adults to show varying degrees of acne and skin tones. Participants in a survey showed a tendency to distance themselves socially from individuals with severe acne. It's unfortunate how few people understand acne is a sign of an imbalanced microbiome, and how using the right products to improve one's gut health usually clears acne.

Living near farms increases glyphosate levels in pregnant women. New research indicates that living near farmland significantly increases exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup weed killer. Pregnant women living within about 500 meters of agricultural fields had higher levels of glyphosate in their urine than those living farther away. The study, conducted in southern Idaho, also revealed that eating organic food reduced glyphosate levels in women living far from farms, but not in those living closer to agricultural fields. This suggests that proximity to farming operations may be a more significant source of exposure than diet. Glyphosate is the world's most heavily used agricultural pesticide, and its use has increased with the rise of genetically modified, herbicide-resistant crops. While there's no consensus on whether glyphosate causes cancer, recent studies have linked it to reproductive effects, including preterm birth.

Screen time is bad for mental health in kids. A study in JAMA Pediatrics finds a link between screen time and mental health issues in 3-6-year-old children. Researchers from Shanghai Jiao Tong University analyzed data from over 15,000 participants, observing a shift in screen exposure from educational content to social media as children age. They found that educational programs lowered the risk of mental health problems, while non-child-directed programs increased it. Overall, more screen time, regardless of the type, was associated with mental health issues. The study suggests limiting screen time and focusing on educational content for young children.

Women in sleep debt are at a much greater risk of heart problems. Recent findings presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions indicate that sleep quality during menopause significantly impacts heart health. The study, involving 291 women aged 45-55, showed that peri- and postmenopausal women with sleep disturbances such as insomnia, poor sleep quality, and sleep apnea risk have worse cardiovascular health than premenopausal women. Key findings include the link between poor sleep quality and a threefold increase in poor cardiovascular health scores, especially related to diet and weight management. This research underscores the importance of addressing sleep problems during menopause for long-term cardiovascular well-being.

Cold therapy might impair sports performance. Yes, it's all the rage, and every fitness influencer seems to be getting in a cold plunge pool lately, but it might not be that good of an idea if you're interested in optimal performance. Twelve national team skaters, both male and female, tried three recovery techniques: hot-water immersion (HWI), cold-water immersion (CWI), and active recovery (AR). They first completed an exhaustive ice-skating session, followed by one of the recovery methods, and then a cycling sprint session. Results showed that average power output in cycling was slightly higher for athletes who underwent AR and HWI, compared to those who used CWI. The study suggests that CWI might slightly impair performance compared to AR and HWI, indicating the need for further research, especially among less-trained athletes.

Moderate exercise beats the flu. A comprehensive study sheds light on the impact of physical activity on influenza prevention and management. Regular, moderate physical activity is beneficial in preventing influenza, enhancing the immune response, and reducing infection risk. However, high-intensity endurance activities may actually impair immune mechanisms, increasing susceptibility to infections like the flu. This study reveals a delicate balance: moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can reduce flu infections, but overly intense or prolonged physical exertion has the opposite effect. The study also explores physical activity for those already infected with influenza. Moderate exercise appears to boost white blood cell count and improve resistance, with some studies showing relief in flu symptoms and better survival rates in those engaging in moderate activity post-infection.

Protein type & timing for muscle growth. A network meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials has provided new insights into protein supplementation strategies for enhancing muscle mass and strength. The study, which examined 116 trials with 4,711 participants, focused on the timing and type of protein supplementation in conjunction with resistance training. Results indicate that taking protein supplements after exercise and at night shows the most effectiveness in improving muscle mass and strength, respectively. Specifically, milk-based proteins (like milk, whey, yogurt, casein, and bovine colostrum), red meat, and mixed proteins were found to be particularly beneficial for both muscle mass and strength gains.

Caffeine + Theanine (like in Energy+) enhances athletic accuracy and cognitive function. A groundbreaking study explores how caffeine (CAF) and theanine (THE) supplementation impacts elite curling athletes' shooting and cognitive performance. The research demonstrates that combining CAF and THE significantly enhances both shooting accuracy and cognitive abilities, more so than either supplement alone. In particular, combined CAF and THE intake led to notable improvements in reaction times and accuracy during cognitive tasks, and better shooting scores compared to a placebo.

🏋️‍♂️ The Workout

My Full-Length Blogs

Does Coffee Consumption Improve Gut Health? A new study shows that coffee consumption may improve overall gut health and lower the risk of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A comprehensive study, involving hundreds of thousands of people, indicates that those who drink coffee could have a lower chance of getting IBS. It’s good timing, too. I’ve recently posted a few times about how I’ve stopped drinking coffee, which has led some people to believe that I don’t think it’s good for you. That’s not at all the case. Keep reading...

Cognitive Dissonance: The Good, Bad, and Ugly. How does cognitive dissonance work? Does it help us, or lead us into a life of hypocrisy? Can understanding the theory help us understand the bizarre behavior we see in others, as well as ourselves? Cognitive dissonance has affected humans throughout history, but today’s political, social, and medical pressures surround us in contradictory ideas, beliefs, and ideologies begging us to act on their behalf. To satisfy the expectations of others, bolster our egos, or even do the “more right thing,” we make choices that amplify stressful feelings brought on by our cognitive dissonance. Keep reading...

🧘‍♀️ The Cooldown

Other interesting articles from around the web

Charter Schools Rise to the Challenge. Parents need a choice if their child’s school is failing. Due to pandemic-related issues, declining birthrates, inferior education, radical curricula, etc., government-run schools are bleeding students. Whereas traditional public schools (TPS) had 50.8 million students enrolled in 2019, the number had shrunk to 49.4 million one year later. The federal government now projects that public school enrollment will fall even further – to 47.3 million – by 2030, an almost 7% drop in 11 years. Where are the kids going? The U.S. Census Bureau reports that families are moving to private schools and setting up home schools at a great rate. But what can parents do if they can’t home-school or afford a private school and there are no educational freedom laws on the books? Keep reading...

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In faith, fitness, and fortitude,
Tom Nikkola, CSCS

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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