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Bulletproof Bullet Points: July Biohacking News

Bulletproof Bullet Points: July Biohacking News
  • Probiotics vs. antibiotics in the battle for brain function
  • Reversing Alzheimer’s – is it possible?
  • A new reason to cover your plate in veggies
  • Some tips you can use at the gym this summer

Antibiotics can inhibit brain function

New research suggests that strong or prolonged use of antibiotics can impact brain function. A recent study in Cell found that if an antibiotic is strong enough to kill gut bacteria, it can also stop the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus, the part of your brain associated with memory and cognition.

In this study, researchers compared mice whose intestinal microbes were almost completely wiped out (to mimic antibiotic use) with normal mice. Those who lost their healthy flora performed worse on memory tests and saw a decline in the creation of new neurons.

The good news? This same study found that, in mice, probiotics and exercise can balance brain plasticity and restore brain function – even more so than a fecal transplant. The mice in the study ran on a wheel to restore neurogenesis.

Takeaways:

  • Any time you’re on antibiotics – if you’re feeling up to it – try to raise your heart rate for about 20 minutes per day.
  • A good probiotic may help too. Gut health is individual, so the best approach is to try different probiotics until you find a brand that works well for you.

 

Cannabinoids may protect an aging brain

The drug that makes you forget words may be protective against Alzheimer’s, according to  a recent study. It turns out active compounds in marijuana including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) may reduce the toxic amyloid beta protein associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

We’ve known about the potential neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids for a while – namely that THC inhibits the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme in the brain that produces them – but this new study demonstrates that THC can also reduce levels of beta amyloid proteins that are already present in the brain – meaning it could potentially help reverse Alzheimer’s, not just prevent it.

High levels of amyloid beta link to inflammation in the brain and higher rates of cell death. But exposing cells to THC reduces amyloid beta protein levels and lowers the inflammatory response caused by the proteins so more cells survive.

Studies show that exercise also slows the progression of the disease by decreasing neural inflammation and stimulating connection-building brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Cannabinoids and exercise may be two keys to keeping an aging brain in good shape.

 

The psychological impact of eating your veggies

A study encouraging you to eat your greens may not seem groundbreaking, but researchers at the University of Warwick are attempting to find the psychological impact of eating extra vegetables. Beyond the benefits of losing unwanted fat and reducing your risk of heart attack and cancer, a daily intake of 8 portions of veg can increase your satisfaction with life “to the same degree as moving from unemployment to employment,” according to the study.

More than 12,000 randomly selected study participants experienced positive psychological benefits. For most, the boost in happiness developed within about 24 months.

 

Failing your way to stronger muscles

High reps and light weights in the gym? Or fewer reps with heavier weights? The jury’s been out for years.

Turns out it doesn’t really matter as long as you’re lifting until failure, according to this new study in the Journal of Applied Physiology. The only real difference is that lifting with lighter weights will take you a little longer to gain the same amount of muscle.

In this study, half the subjects lifted a heavy load for 8-12 reps per set and the other half lifted a lighter load for 20-25 reps. There was very little difference in muscle mass and strength gained in both groups.

Participants also tested their testosterone levels, cortisol, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), luteinizing hormone, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), free IGF-1, lactate (mM), and growth hormone. Hormone levels had no significant effect on muscle or strength gains either.

So, stop stressing over the number of reps at the gym and remember that it’s how much effort you put in that matters.

That’s it for July. Thanks for reading, have a great week, and subscribe below for more cutting-edge biohacking content straight to your inbox!

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