Nutrition Health Review

FALL 2017

Nutrition Health Review provides consumers updates on the latest medical research, news, trends, and products in nutrition and healthy living.

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17 Fall 2017 • Volume 117 and high-intensity interval training (HIIT, was most beneficial for the brain. 6 The NYT wellness blogger cited a study published in the Journal of Physiology, which was conducted on rats. The study compared the brain cell genesis of three groups of rats: those who completed steady aerobic exercise, rats who completed strength training exercises, and rats who completed HIIT. The results of the study showed that rats participating in long- distance, steady-state aerobic exercise showed the highest rate of hippocampal neurogenesis among all three groups. The longer those rats ran on their wheel, the higher the rate of hippocampal neurogenesis. Coming in second was the HIIT group, and coming in last, with no discernible effect on hippocampal neurogenesis, were the beefy, strength training rats. These results don't mean you have to stop lifting weights if you aspire to peak brain health, as there are other studies that have observed parts of the brain other than the hippocampus that show benefits from strength training as well. In spring of 2017, a comprehensive review of studies published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine determined that a combination of aerobic and resistance exercises was effective in enhancing brain health for adults over the age of 50, regardless of current state of brain health. The authors of the study included several types of exercises in their analysis of current research, including yoga and tai chi. This review determined that aerobic exercise significantly improves thinking and reasoning, while resistance training has a notable effect on the brain's ability to plan, organize, and remember information. Regarding time, frequency, and intensity of these brain-boosting workouts, the authors' analysis showed that sessions of moderate to vigorous intensity, lasting 45 to 60 minutes, are great for maintaining brain health. 7 TRAIN YOUR BRAIN WITH PUZZLES AND GAMES Dual n-back brain training. A recently published study conducted at Johns Hopkins University tested two brain-training methods that scientists routinely utilize in research settings in order to determine which of these tests was more effective. With brain- training programs released in recent years, such as the popular Luminosity programs, researchers and the public have questioned whether these programs are worth the time and money. The Johns Hopkins study determined that the "dual n-back" exercise improved participants' working memory by 30 percent. The dual n-back group also showed significant changes in brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, the critical region responsible for higher learning. The dual n-back is a memory sequence test in which people must remember a constantly updated sequence of visual and auditory stimuli. The Johns Hopkins study participants saw squares flashing on a grid while hearing letters. They had to remember if the square they just saw and the letter they heard were both the same as the one previously displayed. As the test got harder, they had to recall squares and letters two, three, and four rounds back. 8 Here are some websites that have attempted to replicate this test for free (and do a pretty good job):

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