Nutritional Wellness

The Flavor of Health: How Food Impacts the Brain and Body

January 8, 2023
The Wellness Tribe Team
The Flavor of Health: How Food Impacts the Brain and Body

The connection between what we eat and our overall health is undeniable, and in this article, we will delve into the specific ways in which food can impact our brains and body. 

From the role of different macronutrients in brain function and mood to the link between certain foods and cognitive disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease, we will cover a wide range of topics.

Additionally, we will discuss the impact of food on daily lifestyle and provide some actionable advice for readers on how to optimize their diet for optimal brain and body health.

The Brain and Food: A Delicious Connection

Our brains are the command center of our bodies, controlling everything from our movements to our thoughts and emotions. And, like all other parts of our body, they need the right fuel to function at their best. The food we eat can profoundly impact our cognitive function and mood, and we're here to explore the delicious ways in which it does so.

The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison." - Ann Wigmore

When it comes to macronutrients, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins play a vital role in keeping our brain healthy. Carbohydrates, for instance, can help boost our mood by increasing the production of serotonin, the feel-good chemical. Fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, are crucial for brain development and function, while proteins are essential in the creation of neurotransmitters, the chemicals that transmit signals in the brain.

But it's not just about what we eat; it's also about what we avoid. A diet high in saturated fats and processed foods has been linked to cognitive disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease. On the other hand, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids may help to protect against them. So, next time you reach for that bag of chips, remember that your brain will thank you for choosing a handful of nuts instead.

The Body and Food: A Nutritional Symphony

The Body and Food: A Nutritional Symphony
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Food plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and preventing chronic diseases. The right nutrition can help keep our body in tip-top shape, while a poor diet can lead to a host of health issues.

First and foremost, the role of nutrition in maintaining overall health cannot be overstated. Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help to provide the essential vitamins and minerals our body needs to function properly. This can help to prevent chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Again it's not just about what we eat; it's also about what we avoid. Certain foods have been linked to specific health conditions. For example, a diet high in saturated fats has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Processed foods, on the other hand, have been linked to obesity and diabetes. By choosing whole foods and avoiding processed foods, we can help to keep our bodies in check.

Food and Mental Health: A Delicious Relationship

Food and Mental Health: A Delicious Relationship
Photo by Juan José Valencia Antía on Unsplash 

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, and the food we eat plays a crucial role in maintaining both. The relationship between food and mental health is delicate, and understanding it can help us keep our minds in top shape.

When it comes to our mental health, the impact of diet cannot be overstated. Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help to provide the essential nutrients our brain needs to function properly. This can help to prevent conditions such as depression, anxiety, and stress.

Conclusion

To sum up, the food we consume is the fuel that keeps our body and mind running smoothly. Here are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins
  • Avoid processed foods and saturated fats
  • Include omega-3-rich foods
  • Provides essential nutrients for optimal brain and body function
  • Achieve a balanced diet for optimal wellness.

But, just like a gourmet meal, everyone's nutritional needs are unique and personal. So, before making any drastic changes to your diet, it's always best to consult with a healthcare professional or a dietitian to determine what specific dietary changes would be best for you.

In the end, let's remember that food is not just about sustenance; it's also about pleasure. By making mindful food choices, we can nourish our body and soul. So, let's savor every bite and enjoy the delicious symphony of health food offers.

Psychology

What Your Brain Says About Virtual Meetings and Why You Need Breaks

August 1, 2023
Mohit Sahni
What Your Brain Says About Virtual Meetings and Why You Need Breaks

Ever felt like your brain was stuck in a never-ending loop of video meetings, a mind-numbing carousel of screens and voices? You’re not alone. Millions around the world have been in that same sinking boat, trapped in back-to-back video conferences that drain the life out of the workday.

But what if there was science behind this feeling? What if it wasn't just a gut reaction but a measurable response happening inside your brain? 

Microsoft decided to dive into this very question, peeling back the layers of our Zoom-fatigued minds.

With electroencephalogram (EEG) caps and a well-thought-out experimental design, they set out to dissect this modern-day conundrum. And what they found was not just fascinating; it was enlightening.

Welcome to the deep dive into the scientific underbelly of meeting fatigue. 

The Back-to-Back Meeting Phenomenon

What Your Brain Says About Virtual Meetings and Why You Need Breaks
Source: Microsoft’s Human Factors Lab

We all felt it: the accumulating stress from one meeting to the next. Microsoft's study, conducted among people participating in video meetings and monitored by electroencephalogram (EEG) equipment, put data into our feelings. As consecutive video meetings increased, so did stress.

“Our research shows breaks are important, not just to make us less exhausted by the end of the day, but to actually improve our ability to focus and engage while in those meetings,” says Michael Bohan, senior director of Microsoft’s Human Factors Engineering group, who oversaw the project.

Microsoft isn't just identifying the problem; they're pointing to an easy remedy: taking a break in between meetings. 

The Science Behind the Break

Work used to be different. A 9-to-5 job, a desk, a chair, and maybe a few office plants. But with the rise of remote work and back-to-back video meetings, the workplace has become a battlefield of cognitive overload and stress. 

Thankfully, science is here to help us understand why a break isn't just nice – it's necessary.

1. Breaks Reset the Brain

Beta waves – those little electrical signals our brains send out – they spike with stress. But when you take a break and perhaps indulge in a bit of meditation, those beta waves calm down.

Imagine your brain as a bustling city. The traffic of thoughts and tasks builds up during meetings. Breaks are like traffic lights, allowing the mind to slow down and the traffic to clear.

2. Meditation Isn’t Just for Monks

Meditation isn't about achieving nirvana; it's about giving your brain a moment to breathe. The Microsoft study showed that when participants meditated during breaks, they could enter the next meeting with a more focused and relaxed mindset.

It's like hitting the refresh button on your brain's browser. Everything loads faster and works better.

3. The Tricky Transition Between Meetings

Switching from one meeting to the next without a break is like trying to change lanes in a speeding car. Stress levels spike, and focus plummets.

The science? Beta wave activity. It jumps when you move between meetings without a break. Add in some meditation, and that spike levels out.

In other words, slow down before you switch lanes.

4. The Ripple Effect of Mindful Breaks

This isn't just about one study or one set of meetings. It's about creating a work culture that respects the brain's need to reset.

The science behind taking breaks goes beyond just reducing stress. It's about promoting a state of mental well-being that can last a lifetime. It's about recognizing that our brains need downtime, just like our bodies.

The results? 

The results were fascinating, with three main takeaways:

The Microsoft study was no mere surface-level glance at meeting fatigue; it was a scientifically rigorous investigation. Let's unpack the takeaways and see how they're backed by the cold, hard data.

1. Breaks Reduce Stress Buildup

What Your Brain Says About Virtual Meetings and Why You Need Breaks
Source: Microsoft Human Factors Lab

Beta waves are like your brain's stress-o-meter. The more they build up, the more stressed you feel.

The Findings: In back-to-back meetings, beta waves increased over time, showing a cumulative buildup of stress. When participants meditated during breaks, beta activity decreased.

The Science Says: Beta waves are linked to anxiety and tension. They build up when we're engaged in tasks that demand concentration and focus. The study's evidence of breaks reducing this beta wave buildup means a real, tangible drop in stress.

2. Breaks Enhance Focus and Engagement

Frontal alpha asymmetry is a fancy term that tells us about engagement. Positive levels mean higher engagement; negative levels mean the opposite.

What Your Brain Says About Virtual Meetings and Why You Need Breaks
Microsoft Human Factors Lab

The Findings: With meditation breaks, the alpha wave levels were positive, showing better engagement. Without breaks, the levels were negative, indicating less engagement.

The Science Says: Alpha waves are associated with relaxed alertness. Meditation, even short breaks, has been shown to increase alpha waves, enhancing focus and creativity. This study provided real-world evidence of this effect in a business setting.

3. Transitions Between Meetings Spike Stress

Remember those beta waves? They also spike during transitions between calls. They're like the stress ripples in your brain, rising with each change.

The Findings: Researchers noticed that beta wave activity jumped sharply when transitioning between calls without breaks. With meditation breaks, the increase dropped.

The Science Says: This observation points to the stress induced by constantly shifting gears. Beta wave spikes during transitions align with what's known about multitasking's stressful effects on the brain. Breaks reduce this "gear-shifting" stress, leading to a more balanced mental state.

A Simpler, Smarter Way to Work

The evidence is in, and the verdict is clear: more breaks equal less stress and more productivity. It's time for a meeting revolution. With tech giants like Microsoft leading the way, the future of work looks more balanced, more focused, and more humane.

It's not just about surviving those meeting marathons anymore; it's about thriving in them. Try the change, redefine the norm, and discover a simpler, smarter way to work.

Personal Wellbeing

Dreamland Duty: Your Blueprint to a Blissful Slumber

September 21, 2022
Dr. Manan Mehta
Dreamland Duty: Your Blueprint to a Blissful Slumber

We recently conducted a survey of the young to middle-aged urban population and found alarming rates of sleep deprivation. Only a quarter of the respondents were getting 8 hours of sleep, and the majority of them indicated waking up tired and needing more rest. 

Besides being essential to life and survival, sleeping affects our mind body soul. Counting sheep is not as simple as closing your eyes and closing your eyes.

Neuroscientists define sleep as a state of active unconsciousness, in which the brain is in a state of relative rest and is reacting primarily to internal stimuli. Simply put, it is a state where the body slows down in almost all departments, none more so than the brain.

Why do we sleep?

It may sound strange, but we still don't know exactly why humans and other animals sleep. A variety of theories are being proposed in current research, including the Inactivity theory, the Restoration theory, the Energy conservation theory, and the Brain plasticity theory. 

It has been found that muscles repair themselves, tissues grow, proteins are synthesised, and growth hormones are released predominantly during sleep. The body has decreased metabolism by up to 10% during sleep. During sleep, the brain's structure and function are reorganised and grown.

Stages of sleep

There are essentially four stages of sleep – 3 stages of Non-Rapid Eye Movement, Sleep, and Rapid Eye Movement. These stages typically occur in 90 to 120-minute cycles. The body ideally needs 3 to 4 such cycles for restful rebuilding.

How much Should we sleep?

How much sleep do you need?
Photo by Gregory Pappas on Unsplash

Now, this is a tricky question. The importance of sleep in infants' and children's brain development explains why infants need to sleep upwards of 14 hours a day. Geriatric patients can swing from managing with 5 to 6 hours a day or needing nearly 12 hours of sleep as age advances.

A minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sleep is recommended for adults in order to maintain excellent emotional wellness. This includes a majority of it as interrupted night sleep with an optional power nap during the day; and no more than 9 to 10 hours of sleep.

"Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." - Benjamin Franklin

Problems associated with sleep deprivation

What we do know for sure is that chronic sleep deprivation has tremendous effects on mood, productivity, immunity, and metabolism. 

In addition to an increase in the frequency and severity of infections, chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to a number of other health problems, including depression, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes, as well as reduced fertility rates and mental disorders.

What is insomnia?

What is insomnia?

Photo by Sander Sammy on Unsplash

Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling or staying asleep accompanied by daytime impairments related to those sleep troubles.=

It can be of two types - chronic insomnia disorder and short-term insomnia.

Insomnia, whether short-term or chronic, has certain symptoms in common. There are different types of sleep issues associated with those symptoms, including those related to nighttime sleep when a person experiences at least one of those types of sleep issues:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Not able to lead happy healthy life.
  • Not being able to stay asleep through the night
  • Getting up too early in the morning
  • Teenagers and children who resist sleeping at bedtime
  • Children and teens who have difficulty sleeping on their own (without the assistance of a caregiver)

There are also several daytime symptoms related to sleeping problems that must be present as well:

  • Tiredness
  • Memory or attention problems
  • Working, studying, or socially performing poorly
  • Mood disturbances or irritability
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Hyperactivity or aggression are examples of behavioural issues
  • Motivation has decreased
  • Accidents or mistakes occurring more frequently
  • Sleep concerns or dissatisfaction

For chronic insomnia to occur, symptoms must be present three times per week for a minimum of three months. Short-term insomnia is characterised by less frequent episodes and less than three months of symptoms.

Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is not explicitly defined in the diagnostic criteria for insomnia. Adults may suffer from insomnia if they take longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep or are awake during the night for more than 30 minutes (20 minutes for children).

Causes

Recognising why you are not sleeping well is essential to treating the problem.

  • Lack of opportunity to sleep or a disruptive sleep environment. Poor socioeconomic status, cramped living, small children, or dependents needing care.
  • Medical disorders like Prostatomegaly or Diabetes causing frequent urination, OSA or sleep apnea, aches and pains, acid reflux disorder, thyroid disorder, etc
  • Sleep procrastination syndrome - it's the only me time and free time you get. So you keep scrolling mindlessly through social media sites and videos and articles.
  • Screen time: Most of our survey participants were on a screen minutes before sleep. Melatonin, an important sleep hormone, is regulated by the brightness of light falling on your retina. Gadget screens thus keep pushing the brain into an active state.
  • Anxiety - generalised, work-related, social, emotional. We all live in overloaded, busy, and stressful times.
  • Just not enough time due to work and travel.

All of us will be sleepless on some occasions or through certain phases of life. Recognise the issue and embark on a holistic approach toward solving it. Disciplined screen time, a more natural unwinding schedule, fixed waking hours, appropriate meals and meal times, and adequate exercise are some of the first steps we must take. 

Diagnosing and treating underlying medical disorders with a physician's help comes next. Then, if need be, some pharmacological support. Emotional, social, financial, and even generalised anxiety shouldn’t be ignored. 

An overwhelming majority of our respondents (primarily 25-40-year-olds) stated work and work-related anxieties as major obstacles to adequate sleep. Emotional anxieties were a close second. Therefore, workplace wellness programs are more than necessary to help employees. 

If only a fourth of our young, upwardly dynamic population are waking up naturally and feeling fresh, there is definitely something afoot that doesn’t augur well for the future. So pull up your eye masks and switch off the lights! Enough of hand sanitisers. It's time for some sleep hygiene.

Good luck and Good night!

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