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Researches Find That Your Weight Can Affect Your Brain

Researches Find That Your Weight Can Affect Your Brain

The common belief if that our weight can affect only our physical health and there’s absolutely no chance for it to affect our brain.

Obesity is certainly a horrible thing but it’s surely not so horrible that it will destroy the neurons in our brains right?

In fact, don’t many of us adopt a sedentary lifestyle to focus more on our career and work which basically involves sitting in front of a computer screen with take-out pizzas and gaining weight?

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The Truth:

Well, here’s the harsh truth. As per a study, our weight can seriously affect the size of our brains and how quickly it deteriorates. Which means obesity and brain function are linked and that obesity can affect the white matter inside our skull. This not only leads to dementia, Alzheimer’s and depression but it also affects memory, language and visual skills. Battling obesity has never been this important.

The Research:

Scientists at the University of Cambridge did an experiment to see if obesity speeded up the brain shrinkage process that occurs naturally with age. The findings were published in the Neurobiology of Aging, titled ‘Obesity Associated With Increased Brain-Age From Mid-Life.’

The Procedure:

They tested 473 adults between the ages 20 to 87 of varying weights looking to for unusual differences in their comparative results. They found out that leaner middle-aged people had more white matter than those who were overweight. So the average 50-year-old obese individual had the brain matter of someone at least 10 years older than him.

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In short, obesity deteriorates your brain.

Limitations:

However, this study does have some limitations. For instance, when the obese people were tested on their IQ, their overall cognitive ability remained unaffected thus hinting that more research needs to be done to establish the exact link between weight and brain function.

As Paul Fletcher, co-author of the research and psychiatry professor at the University of Cambridge says, “Going forward, older obese people should specifically be studied when it comes to obesity and premature ageing of the brain. We’re living in an ageing population, with increasing levels of obesity, so it’s essential that we establish how these two factors might interact since the consequences for health are potentially serious.”

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What’s Important:  

Nevertheless, white matter, often dubbed as the ‘subway of the brain’ is responsible for maintaining connections between different areas of the brain and controlling neuron response, so a decrease in white matter is definitely dangerous and can lead to further complications.

What You Should Do:

If you’re reading this, you’re either obese and panicking or, you’re not obese but still worried. However, there is no reason to panic or be anxious about this, as obesity, like diabetes and other serious ailments can be kept under control and even minimised with these two simple steps.

1. First off, get off the couch and get some exercise. The more active you remain, the better. Try to get into an exercise regime. You can join a gym or set up one in your own house, or if these options are too expensive, get creative. Use the stairs instead of the lift, stretch and do yoga, be more active in the house, do at least  20-30 sit ups every day and go for long walks to contemplate your life.

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2. Eat healthy. Keep a food diary or use an app to track your calories. Either way, keep junk food to a minimum. Take cooking lessons if possible or consult a dietitian to make a special chart for you and reward yourself for sticking to it.

In short, prioritise your health before anything else in your life, and that includes your career and monthly salary. If you’re looking for more ideas to lose weight check out these articles:

10 Simple Natural Hacks To Help You Lose Weight Fast
Four Ways to Lose Weight Fast
The 10 Easiest And Most Effective Tips For Weight Loss

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

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     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

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    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

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      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

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      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

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      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.

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        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

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          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

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          Summation

          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

          Reference

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