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The Plunge

🧊 The Plunge - September 7, 2023

Published 6 months ago • 2 min read

Clarity on staying healthy and happy arrives every day, from all corners of the globe. The Plunge brings you the information you always wanted: current, clear-cut answers from the world's leading scientists and creators.



He's not crazy...just stressed

It may have only been mice, but the data's clear: stress affects men and women differently. A recent study from the Weizmann Institute and Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry shows clear differences in the cellular impact of stress in the brain. The most notable discrepancies were seen in oligodendrocytes, brain cells that play an important role in regulating brain activity. In males, chronic stress caused changes in gene expression, interaction with surrounding nerve cells, and the very structure of the cells. As for females? These cells showed no susceptibility to stress. It's an early research result suggesting that gender should be considered when developing treatments for depression, anxiety, and other stress-induced conditions. (Cell Reports - 22 mins)

Do blue-light glasses help?

Can't be staring at a screen without those blue-light glasses, right? Not according to a review of 17 randomized control trials. In those studies, all involving adult participants and a comparison between blue-light filtering and non-blue-light filtering spectacles, there was no clear evidence of alleviated eye strain or improved sleep quality. Laura Downie, who runs the lab that conducted this analysis, believes their findings "do not support the prescription of blue-light filtering lenses to the general population." Interestingly, according to the paper's author, our eyes only receive about 1/1000th of the blue light that comes from daylight. Not only that, most blue-light filtering glasses only remove 10-25%. Any more and you're probably riding the high seas (or leading the wolf pack) in blue-blockers, which greatly alter color perception. (Cochrane Library - 4 mins)

Scents of memory

Researchers at the UC Irvine Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory are testing our senses, and how they may impact memory. Their study involved men and women aged 60 to 85 who don't have memory issues. Each was given a diffuser and seven cartridges, either full of scents that would activate for 2 hours during sleep, or containing very small amounts of the scented oils. Those in the testing group showed a 226% increase in cognitive performance, measured by a common word list test. It's known that exposing dementia patients to 40 different odors twice a day may boost memory and language skills and ease depression. However, as the researchers noted, "...it’s not realistic to think people with cognitive impairment could open, sniff, and close 80 odorant bottles daily. This would be difficult even for those without dementia.” Yet another reason to get out of the house and give the world a smell. (Frontiers - 19 mins)

More than a word

Labels matter, at least if that label is "vegan". A recent study at MIT asked participants to choose a free meal from two options: a vegan wrap or a vegetarian wrap. When the vegan meal was labeled as such, participants only selected it about 35% of the time. When unlabeled, it jumped to over 60%. Other labeling studies showed smaller impact for words like vegetarian or meat. Given the low toll vegan food production has on our planet, we ought to question whether labeling is really beneficial. (The Manual - 3 mins, Appetite - 28 mins)


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The Plunge

by Corey Garvey

Hey I'm Corey, the curator of The Plunge, my newsletter focused on healthspan and longevity. The Plunge gives subscribers up to date articles, podcasts, and videos about longevity and remaining mentally fit while living a long, happy life. ~Corey

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