Vagus Nerve, Psychobiotics, Hormones, House Plants, Walking, and More

Issue 183

Good afternoon Nikkola Newsletterers!

On February 5, 1952, New York City installed the first ever “Don’t Walk” sign as a way to control urban traffic. Obviously, the sign wasn’t literal, but we’ve spent more time being sedentary since then, and it isn’t good for our bodies or brains (I highlight a couple of studies directly related to this later in the newsletter).

One of the best things you can do for your mobility and mental health is to get up and move at least every couple of hours, if not more often. Stand for part of the day. Walk while you’re on the phone. Park further from the store. There are all sorts of ways to get more steps in.

At the end of the day, it isn’t really about walking, though. It’s about not sitting. So, find a way to not sit more of your day and you’ll start to look and feel like a new person.

Enjoy this week's carefully curated newsletter!

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🏋️‍♂️ From My Blog

The Vagus Nerve & Its Impact on Health & Wellness. As the topic of mental health has gained attention over the past several years, you’ve no doubt heard a couple of related phrases you’re not familiar with. One is the vagus nerve. The other is heart rate variability. Here, we’ll delve into the vagus nerve and what it’s all about. Read: The Vagus Nerve & Its Impact on Health & Wellness.

What Do We Know About Psychobiotics? An Explainer. or decades, probiotics have been known for their role in promoting gut health. Yet, as research delves deeper into the complex web of human biology, a fascinating subset of these beneficial bacteria emerges—psychobiotics. These aren’t your ordinary probiotics. Psychobiotics venture beyond gut health, offering a safe and natural means of improving mental wellness. By influencing the gut-brain axis, they present a novel approach to managing mood, anxiety, and overall mental health. Read: What Do We Know About Psychobiotics? An Explainer.

Does exercise offset age-related hormone changes? To a certain extent, yes, exercise offsets age-related hormonal imbalance. Exercise’s impact on hormones is more significant than most people give it credit for. I wouldn’t expect the news to cover these because there’s little money to be made selling exercise compared to selling pharmaceuticals. So, please pass this along to others who need more incentive to get to the gym, hire a personal trainer, and get their health and fitness under control. Read: Does exercise offset age-related hormone changes?

🧠 Mental Fitness

Get some plants. A lack of sun exposure contributes to depression and other seasonal issues. One way to keep your spirits up is to use a light therapy lamp (I have one on in front of me right now). Another way to keep your spirits up is to surround yourself with live plants. According to Dr. Charlie Hall from Texas A&M, “…nature and being around house plants can help lower cortisol, the stress hormone. He has also published articles reviewing the benefits of plants, including enhanced memory retention, reduced effects of dementia, and greater life satisfaction.”

A 15-minute walk boosts mood and reduces feelings of depression. Going for a brief walk isn’t the same as a workout, but it’s just as essential. In fact, it could be one of the most powerful ways to break the fatiguing effects of Zoom meetings and other desk work. When you sit, even for a few hours, it compromises your lymph system, leading to swelling. It makes your muscles more insulin-resistant. And most importantly, it compromises brain function. A casual walk increases blood flow throughout your body, improving how well your brain works.

Older adults may be better off drinking beet juice than prune juice. Beet juice increases blood flow to the brain. According to research, improves emotions, memory, language, and judgement in older adults.

If you need to workout at night, weight training is better than endurance exercise. It turns out that endurance exercise at night increases cortisol and induces a hyperarousal effect, but resistance training does not. Better to save your aerobic exercise or “cardio” for the mornings or daytime.

Do you use Facebook regularly?

If so, join my Facebook group. You can access new articles, exercise videos, and more. It’s also a great way to make a conversation out of some of this newsletter content.

🏋️‍♂️ Physical Fitness

Weight loss alone doesn’t resolve type II diabetes. A new study of 37,000 people found that only 6% of people were in remission eight years after diagnosis as a result of weight loss. Most healthcare practitioners default to recommending their patients lose weight to get rid of type II diabetes. But that doesn’t make sense. Twenty percent of people with type II diabetes are at a healthy weight. The reality is, type II diabetes results from a loss of insulin sensitivity in the muscles. The best way to resolve type II diabetes permanently is to follow a consistent, intense resistance training program. Supplements and nutrition help, but health muscles are the key to blood sugar management.

Vibrating belt slows bone loss. The Osteoboost, a vibrating belt that looks like a weight-lifting belt, just got FDA clearance as a medical device. It can be worn during the day to stimulate bone growth in the hips and spine. It’s promising for those who are unable to strength train, but it’s definitely not a replacement for it. It could be great for those recovering from surgery.

Citric acid improves gut health. A new study shows that citric acid, which is found in citrus fruits and is often used as an ingredient to help preserve foods and supplements, as well as create a more “citrusy” flavor, improves gut integrity. Specifically, the research show it helps increase populations of probiotics species Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, increases the tight junction barrier in the intestines, and can act as an anti-viral.

I rarely open TikTok, but apparently, “Cozy Cardio” is a big thing there. And it’s actually a pretty good idea. The concept is simply throwing on whatever is comfortable instead of needing to get dressed up in fancy fitness gear, and moving at home. It could be walking in place, using a mini treadmill, or a walking pad. The idea is just to get active and doing good for your body without trying to look good for the gym crowd. Does it replace your strength and conditioning program? No, but it’s a great way to move more during the day, which is essential in addition to a formal exercise program.

GERD can cause rheumatoid arthritis. Digestive issues frequently lead to autoimmune conditions and allergies. A new study involving about 700,000 people shows that GERD likely causes rheumatoid arthritis. That means the treatment should involve focusing on restoring digestive and gut function, not just reducing the pain of the arthritis.

Coffee but not tea consumption is associated with lower risk of NAFLD. That’s the findings of a new study. Coffee contains numerous beneficial compounds beyond caffeine itself. To this day, it has a reputation for being unhealthy in many circles, but that’s just not true.

From the Socials

🌎 Other Stories

The Super Bowl Will Again Feature Two ‘National Anthems’ (American Greatness). What do you think? Do two national anthems bring our nation closer together or create a further divide? Dennis Prager weighs in with his thoughts. Keep reading…

Amid historic border crisis, Democrats want to make Minnesota a ‘sanctuary’ for illegals (Alpha News). In the 2024 legislative session, Minnesota Democrats intend to keep working on behalf of illegal immigrants. Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature plan to push a bill, first introduced in 2023, that would make Minnesota a “sanctuary state.” Authored by Rep. Sandra Feist, D-New Brighton, and Sen. Omar Fateh, D-Minneapolis, the so-called “North Star Act” would ban local law enforcement from assisting federal agencies in enforcing immigration law. 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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