The Scientific Guide to a Healthy Body & Brain The Scientific Guide to a Healthy Body and Brain 2019

This BBC Science Focus special edition reveals the science behind how to stay fit, live well and keep your brain sharp. IN THIS ISSUE… - How to get the perfect night's sleep - The science behind new fitness trends - Do brain-training games really work? - How to boost your microbiome - The neuroscience of happiness - How to stress-proof your life - The truth about superfoods

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en este número

2 min.
health hacks

January is when I tend to think most about my health. That’s not to say I ignore it the rest of the time; it’s just that the overindulgences of Christmas and New Year force the subject to the front of my mind… for a short while at least, usually as long as it takes to come up with some resolutions. While I don’t think I’m in particularly bad shape, there’s probably some room for improvement. And it would seem I’m not alone: according to the Health Survey for England, published in December, almost 90 per cent of the 8,000 adults surveyed had at least one lifestyle factor that was putting their health at risk, whether it be smoking, alcohol consumption, inactivity, obesity, or low fruit and veg consumption. More worryingly, just…

21 min.
50 tips to boost your health

1 TRY YOGA A study at Boston University has found that attending yoga sessions twice a week can produce a significant decrease in symptoms in people suffering from major depressive disorders. Another study, carried out by researchers at the University of Waterloo found that practising yoga for 25 minutes a day can boost brain function and the ability to control negative actions. The effect is thought to be due to the release of endorphins and increased blood ow in the brain. 2 MOVE OUT OF THE CITY Mental decline occurs much more slowly among those living in villages than among urban dwellers, a 10-year study carried out in Barcelona has found. Reduced stress, lower pollution levels and more active lifestyles are believed to be factors. DID YOU KNOW? Consuming two portions of sugar-sweetened drinks a week…

7 min.
live fast or die young?

Muslims do it. Christians do it. Even Buddhist monks do it. Eating less in the evening, or for a few days a month, is most definitely nothing new. What are new are the reasons for doing it. Until the last few decades, if you fasted, it was almost certainly for spiritual reasons; you were observing Ramadan, Lent or Vinyana – the Buddhist monk’s daily fast following their midday meal. Today, though, a growing number of people fast for one reason and one reason alone: to lose weight. Off the back of some best-selling diet books, fasting is more popular than it’s ever been. All you have to do is keep your calories down for a couple of days each week, eat what you like the rest of the time and you’ll…

1 min.
do muslims get healthier during ramadan?

During Ramadan, Muslims observe a fast between dawn and dusk. So does this fasting have some of the same benefits as intermittent fasting diets? Yes, but while studies do report weight loss, there are questions over whether Ramadan fasting is healthy for diabetic patients, for example. Doing a high-quality study on the effects of Ramadan is difficult because it would mean randomly assigning people to experimental and control groups, but people who do or do not normally fast during Ramadan may not want to switch groups. So instead, in a trial on 112 Muslims, Romy Lauche at the University of Duisburg-Essen compared usual Ramadan fasting to ‘modified’ Ramadan fasting. The modified fasters were given information about the potential benefits of fasting for health and how nutritional changes might help them.…

1 min.
what happens to your body on a fasting diet?

WEIGHT Fasting will definitely help you lose weight, but not necessarily more than simply cutting your calories. HUNGER Levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, increase, but the feeling of hunger remains stable, suggesting changes in appetite control. KETONES When sugar is scarce, your body starts burning fats for fuel and the liver uses fatty acids to make ketones, which can also be fuels. HEART HEALTH Heart rate and blood pressure tend to decrease, lowering the risk of heart disease. BLOOD SUGAR Most human studies show that blood sugar levels, as well as insulin levels, go down. BRAIN The brain can operate partly on ketones, but still needs some glucose. Ketones may encourage the brain to make new connections. PANCREAS One study in mice suggests chemicals produced in response to fasting can damage the pancreas.…

4 min.
the truth about superfoods

Billed as the superheroes of the culinary world, so-called superfoods are almost as widespread as comic-book movies. Everyday seems to bring news of another exotic ingredient capable of bestowing extraordinary health benefits to anyone that eats it. It’s claimed that these superfoods can transform our diets and improve our health. The problem is no one knows exactly what a superfood is. “There is neither a regulatory nor a scientific definition of a ‘superfood’,” says Dr Jeffrey Blumberg, from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Boston. “It is a marketing term which marketers do not wish to define either.” But by reading the books and blogs that use the term, some common characteristics can be discerned. Superfoods typically have high levels of certain nutrients –vitamin C, beta carotene…