Tag Archives: Physical health

The Diet for “Fast” Physical and Mental Health Benefits: Intermittent Fasting

You may have heard of the typical low carb or low fat diet, but have you heard of intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting (IF) is a relatively new diet that has been recently growing in popularity because of its powerful, life-changing benefits for the body and the brain.

There are many diets out there that are complex and intimidating to follow; however, IF keeps it simple.

What is intermittent fasting and how does it work?

IF is an eating pattern where an individual cycles between periods of eating and non-eating. There are many variations of IF that contain different fasting and non-fasting timeframes. Which variation an individual should use is based on their personal preference and their lifestyle/goals. Compared to other diets that require you to limit your calories, IF requires you to cut out the entire meal itself. With IF’s unconventional dieting approach, this makes IF easy to follow for the average person. This has contributed to the diet’s rise in popularity as well as its benefits in body composition and the brain.

Why should I try this diet? What are its benefits?

There are many benefits with intermittent fasting. Below are some of the most important ones that separate this diet apart from others.

Source: The Renegade Pharmacist

 IF alters the function of cells, genes and hormones

When the body is in a fasted state, the body undergoes physiological changes such as changes in hormone levels. This allows the body to use stored fat as its main source of energy. Furthermore, insulin blood levels decrease which helps with fat burning. The human growth hormone (HGH) also gets elevated during fasting. Elevated levels of HGH further increase fat burning, muscle gain and other health benefits. As a result of decreased insulin levels and increased HGH, our cells undergo cellular repair processes and removes toxic waste from cells. This in turn can help prevent cancer. 

IF benefits the brain

Previous studies have shown that IF improves certain metabolic features that are important for mental health. This involves lowering of blood sugar levels and insulin resistance which is important in fighting against certain diseases. Fasting up-regulates the secretion of brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF), a protein that is involved in cognitive functions, memory and overall brain health. A study that experimented with rats showed that IF can elevate the production of new nerve cells which positively impacts the brain. Secretion of BDNF also contributes to lower chances of mental disorders such as depression and other brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, a study involving animals has shown that IF prevents brain damage caused by strokes.

IF can lower the risk of Type 2 Diabetes

As mentioned earlier, fasting reduces insulin. The reduction of insulin levels ultimately lowers type 2 diabetes, a lifelong disease that increases the production of insulin beyond healthy levels. A study comparing IF to calorie restriction diets showed that IF has a stronger impact on lowering insulin levels and lowering blood sugar levels in the body. Collectively, studies have shown that IF can serve as an efficient protection mechanism for people at risk of type 2 diabetes.

IF can improve heart health

Today, heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. It is still not well known whether IF can improve heart health due to the limited amount of studies out there. Emerging studies on the effectiveness of IF and heart disease are slowly on the rise.

Below is a video from the Intermountain Research & Medical Foundation discussing their findings on heart disease and IF.

Source: IntermtnMedCtr/Youtube


Intermittent fasting comes with physical and many mental health benefits that sets this apart from other diets. Why diet focussing only on physical health when you can also improve mental health and focus on bettering your longevity?

Make a change where your future self will thank you.

– Aron Ha

Negative effects on the brain caused by recreational marijuana

Marijuana is one of the three main forms of cannabis (a kind of drug affecting mental activity, behaviour, or perception). It is made from the cannabis plants’ leaves and dried flowers.

cannabis / image from Quick GuideUnderstanding Medical Marijuana

 In all the products of cannabis, marijuana is the least powerful. It is always smoked or even made into eatable products such as marijuana ice cream.

marijuana ice cream /image from Dr Greenlove

Therefore, some teenagers think that the marijuana can not hurt them and some of them even think that using marijuana allows them to be relaxed and settle down and improve their concentration. However, the fact is that recreational marijuana-use by youth can cause negative effects on the brain and daily performance.




The Risky Chemical in Marijuana

The delta-9-tetrahydro-cannabinol (THC), a main chemical in marijuana, is risky for biological systems in the brain.

The chemical formula of THC/ image from Evidence for God from Science

THC affects the cerebellum and the basal ganglia. The cerebellum is the area of the brain which controls balance and coordination. The basal ganglia are the parts of the brain which are helpful for controlling movement. These effects impact performance in some activities, such as sports and driving.

THC and the brain/ image from Collegiate Times

So the THC in marijuana can influences on the cerebellum and the basal ganglia in the brain. Even though THC can affect our brain, the bad thing is that THC percentage in marijuana experienced a dramatical increase from early 1990’s to 2013, which is from 3.73% t0 10%.


The Influence on Memory

In teens, the part of the brain for emotion is developed well, while the part of the brain for judgment still not mature. Smith with other researches found in 2001 that in people who use marijuana everyday for about three years, the hippocampus (a region in brain, is related to long-term memory) looked strange.

image from SlidePlayer

The greater differences in shape of the hippocampus, the poorer performance on memory assessment. In a  long-term memory test,  young adults who have never used marijuana scored 18% better compared to heavy marijuana-use youths. So if young people use marijuana, their memory would be affected negatively because of the brain chemistry and brain structure impairment.

In conclusion, recreational marijuana is harmful to the brain if youth uses it, especially when marijuana-use is high potency and long-term.

image from Depositphotos

The Upside of Stress

If you are a university student or a human being for that matter, you know how it feels to be under an overwhelming amount of stress. Chronic stress, as many may already know, can be detrimental to one’s mental and physical health. Long-term exposure to emotional pressure can lead to elevated blood pressure, heart disease and depression.

Source: Flickr Commons by Emma Brown

Although it would be great if we could be lounging around on a resort far far away from deadlines, exams, and responsibilities, researchers have found that stress at acute levels can actually be beneficial to one’s cognitive function and immune readiness.

Note that chronic stress is referred to as the response to emotional pressure suffered for a prolonged period of time whereas acute stress is stress one suffers for only a short period of time.

Scientists at UC Berkley have put this to the test by using rats as test subjects to see if short-term stress really could lead to a boost in cognitive function. They found that after subjecting the test subjects to acute but short-lived stress, this caused a spike in the rat’s corticosterone levels which also led to the development of new cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain associated with memory function. The researchers discovered that two weeks after exposure to acute stress, the test subjects performed better on a memory test compared to the test subjects that were not exposed.

Source: Flickr Commons

Source: Wikipedia

Not only is there a correlation between acute stress and memory function, but researchers at Harvard University found that the same hormones released during acute stress can aid to enhance immune readiness during ‘fight or flight’ situations which led the subjects to be more alert as well as be more attuned to possible environmental threats. Some examples of possible triggers for acute stress include preparing for a job interview or being involved in competitive sports, whereas examples of triggers for chronic stress include being in a bad relationship or being stuck in a job that you dislike for a long period of time.

Although acute levels of stress can be beneficial for some individuals, one’s personal experience is a big factor in determining whether a response to stress, even at low levels, can lead to positive or negative effects. For an example, if a person was to have a history of post-traumatic stress disorder, even stress at low levels can trigger a negative response.

The takeaway message is that although too much stress can lead to adverse consequences to one’s health, the right amount of acute stress can improve brain performance. Therefore it is definitely worth figuring out where your own optimal stress level lies.


If you are still experiencing stress after reading this post here is another way to make stress your friend.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcGyVTAoXEU


Author: Jasmine Hyun