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We Need an Unconventional Approach to Care for Your Health Better (with Guest Chris Kresser)

The current approach to healthcare in the United States isn’t working.

Modern medicine has been a remarkable triumph. In the twentieth century, the development of antibiotics, antimicrobials, and vaccines eradicated a wide array of diseases that formerly killed millions of people.

Things have obviously changed. Now, most patients are coming to the doctor not to be treated for tuberculosis or pneumonia, but instead for ongoing treatment of chronic diseases, like atherosclerosis, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, cancer, etc. In fact, half of all Americans have a chronic disease, and seven of the top ten causes of deaths are chronic illnesses. No doubt, part of the reason for this predicament is simply because we are living longer, long enough to develop these conditions. Yet the burden of chronic disease appears to be cascading into younger generations. Diseases that were formerly only found in older people, like type 2 diabetes, are now being diagnosed more and more in children. It has gotten to the point that public health experts have projected that the steady rise in life expectancy of the past two centuries may be coming to an end.

This is an alarming trend – and very difficult to reverse.

Why? Unfortunately, chronic disease is a more complicated problem than infectious disease. We can’t eliminate atherosclerosis just by taking a pill or an injection. Conditions like diabetes and heart disease develop gradually over the course of decades and are closely linked to the patient’s diet, environment, genetics, and lifestyle habits. A 10-15 minute doctor’s visit can only do so much. These conditions demand a more complex intervention, with more active participation on the part of the patient and the medical practitioner. The modern medical model, relying upon a battery of pharmaceutical drugs to suppress symptoms, falls hopelessly short of addressing the root causes of these types of illnesses, and we’re all paying the price.

We’ve come a long way, but we can’t solve modern challenges using the methods of last century. We need a new system. And my guest today has a plan for how to make it happen.


Chrononutrition: Consistent Eating Patterns, Caffeine, and Principles for Better Health (Part 3 with Podcast)

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we set the stage for this post by exploring some important roles of diet in circadian system function and metabolic health. We focused in particular on diet timing.

In this final installment, I’ll first touch briefly on the importance of consuming foods and drinks at consistent times from one day to the next. Next, we’ll consider some commonly consumed dietary compounds that influence the circadian system. Then, I’ll leave you with some key takeaways that you can immediately put to practice in your pursuit of better health.

Finally – if you would like to learn even more about the topics addressed here – Dan, Jeff Rothschild, and I did a podcast together discussing aspects of chrononutrition, which you will find at the end of this article. 


Clearing Senescent Cells For Health and Longevity (Interview with Judith Campisi)

Why do we age? As we have discussed before, natural selection tends to favor molecular processes that enhance health and reproductive fitness in youth. However, these genetic programs can also come with unselected negative effects on physical function later in life.

A good example of this is cellular senescence. When exposed to certain forms of stress (like DNA damage), normal cells enter a senescent state, in which they no longer divide. This, generally speaking, is a good thing – cellular senescence probably evolved as a protective mechanism against cancer.

However, senescent cells tend to accumulate as people get older, and they cause all kinds of trouble. They release inflammatory molecules and other factors that speed up the aging process. Not so great.

In this episode of humanOS Radio, I interview Judith Campisi. Dr. Campisi is a professor of biogerontology at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

Recently, she and a team of researchers found that selectively removing senescent cells from the joints of injured rodents enhanced cartilage repair in the damaged site and prevented the development of osteoarthritis. What other age-related conditions might be responsive to this therapeutic approach? Listen below to find out more!


Chrononutrition: Shortened Eating Windows, Breakfast-skipping, Eating Late, and More (Part 2)

In the first part of this series, we looked at how the circadian system times our daily patterns of behavior and physiology, and how the circadian system is synchronized with the 24 hour day. We discussed how the foods we eat, and the types and amounts of nutrients available, are key to synchronizing the ‘clocks’ in many of our bodies’ tissues.

Today, we will delve deeper into this subject, exploring the many ways that when we eat influences our metabolic health. Click to learn more!



Chrononutrition: A Timely Intro to This Key Component of Your Health (Part 1)

“You are what you eat” is an aphorism that most of us are familiar with. However, you may not realize that when you eat and drink also plays a critical role in your health. An accumulating body of evidence suggests that the time of your body’s internal ‘clock’ is very important in determining your metabolic responses to eating. In turn, your dietary choices have a reciprocal influence on your body’s clock.

Additionally, your internal clock and sleep habits affect your decision making – including your dietary choices. Therefore, an appreciation of these interactions has many implications for your daily health practice. To appreciate the value of these implications, however, we must first understand some fundamental principles regarding regulation of our bodies’ clocks.

And this brings us to the crux of today’s blog: Just how is the circadian system that shapes our daily patterns of behavior and physiology regulated?


3 FOODS THAT MAY HELP YOU SLEEP BETTER

We know that people who get less sleep (or reduced sleep quality) are more likely to overeat. They are also more likely to favor energy-rich foods, high in fat or refined carbs.

However, there is considerably less research out there that investigates the other side of the equation: how the food choices that we make today affect the sleep we get tonight.

In a previous article, we discussed how certain macronutrients (carbs, fat) may affect sleep architecture. Now, in this week’s post, we will look at whether there are specific foods that can affect how you sleep.


Why tart cherries are awesome and can keep you healthy

Tart cherries (Prunus cerasus) don’t get quite as much love as their sweet counterparts – other than in baked goods like cherry pie and black forest cake.

But they might deserve a little more attention from you, because science has revealed that there are surprising health benefits associated with the fruit. Tart cherries are a rich source of phenolic compounds. These chemicals have been shown to exert amazing physiological effects when consumed, including reducing inflammation, improving sleep, and even speeding up exercise recovery.

Additionally, we know from prior research that some of these compounds can modulate vascular cells in vitro – which has caused scientists to wonder if adding fruit like tart cherries to the diet could lower blood pressure through its effects on vasculature. High blood pressure is a pervasive health issue, affecting as many as 1 in 3 adults in the US, so there’s a lot of interest in finding ways to address it via lifestyle.

But as we all know, applying chemicals to cells in a petri dish does not necessarily translate to real life. Researchers from Northumbria University designed a trial to put it to the test. Click here to find out what the researchers discovered.


The State of the Art in Sleep and Aging (Guest Bryce Mander, Ph.D. – UC Berkeley)

Do we really need less sleep when we get older?

We know that as people age, they tend to get less sleep. But older people also seem to suffer less when subjected to sleep deprivation, compared to younger adults. This has led some to conclude that older people get less sleep simply because they do not need as much.

However, recent brain studies have revealed that the aging brain changes in ways that makes sleep less restorative. This suggests that the real reason why older adults get less sleep than their younger counterparts is because they are less capable of generating the sleep that they really need.

In this episode of humanOS Radio, I talk with Bryce Mander, a postdoctoral fellow in the Matthew Walker Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at UC Berkeley. Bryce and colleagues recently wrote a review that explores how sleep changes as we grow older, and the potential long-term implications of these alterations. Perhaps most alarming, research has shown that a lack of deep sleep is associated with higher levels of amyloid beta, which are the toxic misfolded proteins that accumulate in the brains of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.

This raises a number of interesting questions. If we could test for sleep disruption, could we determine who is susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease soon enough to intervene? And could we find ways to enhance slow wave oscillations as people grow older, so that we can enjoy high-quality restorative sleep our whole lives? Listen here to learn more!


Does Dim Light at Night Make You Fat?

Before electricity, humans got all of their light via exposure to the sun, fire, and the moon and stars. This meant that nights were spent in relative darkness. Today, our environment is quite different. Our homes can now be brightly illuminated all the time, regardless of season or time of day. Also, our cities have bright LED street lamps that create “light pollution” filling outdoor city environments with much more light than is natural.

On the latest episode of humanOS Radio, I talk to Dr. Laura Fonken who is postdoctoral fellow in Steven Maier’s lab in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado. Before joining the Maier lab, she and a group at Ohio State performed a fascinating experiment with rodents, in which they compared body weight gain in animals who only ate at night versus animals who only ate during the day. The results were startling – and had interesting potential implications for our own health.

Check out our interview here to learn more!