The key to preventing dementia is really this simple.

Plus: Are you eating enough?

Friday. According to the New York Post, scientists have discovered the worst and best times of the day (READ IT HERE). According to a recent study, 5 a.m. is officially the worst time of day, based on mood, circadian clock, and other factors. By contrast, 5 p.m. is when most people are at their cheeriest, per the study. I can confirm that 5 a.m. is not my favorite time of the day. Although it is usually around that time that I am typing away at this newsletter, which believe it or not, I do genuinely enjoy. Depending on how my toddler is feeling, 5 p.m. can be tough. 

Moving on to something less trivial than which arbitrary hour is the “best time of day,” there might be a simple hack you can use to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia as you age. Let’s dive in.

DEEP DIVE

More Muscle, Better Brain Health

Heart Love GIF by nerdbugs

Ever thought that hitting the gym or taking a brisk walk could do more than just improve your physical health? Recent studies are shedding light on a fascinating link between regular exercise and brain health, suggesting that staying active could actually make your brain bigger and protect it from diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia (READ THE STUDY HERE).

Scientists have discovered that consistent exercise, especially through workouts that get your heart pumping, can lead to increased brain volume, more dense gray matter, and thicker cortexes. These aren't just fancy scientific terms; they mean that exercise can boost your overall thinking and processing power. 

Essentially, staying active could make you smarter and more mentally sharp. Who doesn’t want that? 

But it's not all about boosting brainpower today. There's also evidence to suggest that exercise could be a key player in protecting your brain from neurodegenerative diseases in the future (READ THE STUDY). 

Diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia are often linked to the loss of brain tissue in certain areas, but exercise seems to protect these very regions. Researchers believe this protective effect might be due to improved mitochondrial function—those tiny power plants in your cells that thrive on increased blood flow and oxygen, which exercise provides in spades.

Alzheimer’s disease, a brain disorder characterized by a gradual decline in memory and thinking skills, affects over 6 million Americans, most of whom are 65 or older. It's a leading cause of dementia, severely impacting a person's ability to carry out daily tasks. Dementia itself is a broad term for a decline in cognitive functioning, including memory, attention, and decision-making, to the point where it interferes with daily life. 

And while Alzheimer's is the most commonly known form, dementia can stem from various brain changes leading to conditions like Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, and more.

The connection between our physical and brain health isn't anything new, but it's becoming increasingly clear how crucial it is. High-intensity exercise seems to offer the most benefits for brain health, but don't worry; you don't need to push yourself to the limit every day. Incorporating regular, moderate activity into your routine, like a 15-minute walk, can also provide significant protection for your brain.

The key takeaway?  While we often focus on exercise as a way to improve our physical appearance or cardiovascular health, its impact on our brains could be one of the most important reasons to stay active. Not only could it make us smarter and more efficient in our daily tasks, but it also offers a protective shield against some of the most devastating brain diseases known today. So next time you're considering skipping that workout, remember: it's not just your muscles you're working out. Your brain is getting a workout in, too! 

OUR PICKS

Tonic Shots

  • Having depression may increase risk of heart disease by as much as 64%. (READ MORE)

  • EXPLAINER: What to Know About the Change Healthcare Cyberattack. (READ MORE)

  • Chicago measles outbreak grows after more cases diagnosed in a migrant shelter. (READ MORE)

FROM THE ARCHIVE

Are You Eating Enough?

Hannibal Buress Diet GIF by Adult Swim

Ah, the quest for weight loss—a journey so many of us embark on with the best intentions, often armed with the latest diets and exercise routines. Some of us know we have some weight to lose, so we try doing what seems logical: eat less and exercise more. But here’s the catch: What if your efforts to shed those extra pounds are putting your health in jeopardy? And we’re not talking about extreme diets or juice cleanses. We are referring to something researchers call “low energy availability,” or LEA.

If you eat far below your caloric needs, you will lose weight, but not in a good way. This is because your body needs energy to function — energy to breathe, to pump blood, and to fuel your daily movement and exercise. While a slight caloric deficit is necessary to achieve a healthy amount of weight loss, too much of a deficit can cause more problems than it solves.

Scientists have found that just ten days in a steep caloric deficit can have some pretty serious effects on your body. You’ll lose weight but also lose muscle, and that’s not what anyone wants. In one study, participants consumed enough protein but still lost about a pound of muscle because they didn’t consume enough calories overall.

Another Newsletter We Love

Hello, MortalWe’re all gonna die. Let’s talk about it.

🌿 Continue Reading

This is the web version of The Daily Tonic.

Subscribe to get full access to all our newsletters with more subscriber-only content. Get science-backed health news and stories straight to your inbox. See you there 📬