Believe it or not, February is gaining on us. Let’s kick things up a notch.
Dawn's Big Three This Week:
1) 🥑 Food For Thought 💭
Three ways to nurture your brain and overdo it in the turmeric department
2) 🥇 Motivation Station 🏃♀️
How to immediately take back your happiness in four minutes (or less)
3) ☔ Make It Brain
Legs and brain cells and astronauts—oh my.
Want More of This? Get Some Brain Food Every Week.
🥑 Food For Thought 💭
TURMERIC: SPICE DU JOUR
Unless you regularly whip up Indian food, we bet a fraction of you will actually polish off an entire jar of turmeric in your lifetime. It’s not exactly a widespread household staple.
At least, it isn’t yet.
If you’re not already hooked, you’re missing out on more than glowing skin and a healthier liver.
You’re passing up a proven memory-boosting ingredient.
First things first
Turmeric owes its therapeutic properties to curcumin, the medicinal compound also responsible for its vibrant colour.
Curcumin has been causing a stir for millennia but in recent years, upper-crust bloggers and global coffee giants have pushed it into the spotlight.
An impressive CV
Besides colouring textiles and staining cutting boards worldwide, turmeric treats inflammation, oxidation, digestive issues, heart disease and more.
Not only that, a growing body of research indicates curcumin improves cognitive function for people living with Alzheimer’s. It cuts down on beta-amyloid plaque and delays neuron degradation.
Cash in on turmeric
Wondering how to fold this superhuman spice into your repertoire? If you’re not interested in slathering it on your face (because we’re not,) may we suggest:
Whatever you do, add a healthy pinch of black pepper to your concoction and maximise curcumin’s benefits.
And if you can’t be bothered to cook, consider this supplement instead. Leave the cashews to Gwyneth.
FOR THE NERDY: All things turmeric
🥇Motivation Station 🏃♀️
GET HAPPY. WRITE ON.
If Seasonal Affective Disorder messes with you around this time of year, here’s a Harvard-backed DIY happiness treatment that’s cheaper than two weeks in Ibiza.
Researchers from the Ivy League school set up an online survey to test whether simple writing exercises could increase in-the-moment happiness among people recovering from substance use disorders.
531 entries later, the results were clear.
All you need to experience a significant dose of instant happiness is a pen, a journal, and at least four minutes.
In order to yield maximum results, the Harvard crew suggests implementing all three exercises outlined here.
For brevity’s sake, we summed up the study's ultimate crowd pleaser. If all you do is practice this, you’ll be set.
Reliving Happy Moments, a.k.a. Instagram circa 1980
1. Dig up a picture of a specific happy memory. Stare longingly at said photo. Steep in your emotions.
2. Crystallize the memory in words. Get specific. Who was there? Where were you? Maximum detail produces maximum happiness.
3. Scribble your description in a notebook. Bonus points for penning sonnets or whipping out Top-40 ballads.
Four minutes might not seem like much but 93% of participants said happiness was worth the time investment. You decide.
Want to up the ante?
KonMari the experience. Invest in a journal that sparks joy.
FOR THE NERDY: Read the study
☔ Make It Brain
LONG LIVE LEG DAY
Beach weather is still months away but we’ll happily give you a reason to double up on leg workouts this week. Maybe even forever.
According to this Italian study, load-bearing leg exercises are crucial for maintaining a thriving nervous system.
Getting a leg up
Scholars in Milan rounded up mice to test their hypothesis: Could severe immobility influence more than just the body’s motor and metabolic systems?
The team prevented half the mice from using their hind legs...for 28 days. (Don’t freak out. The little guys were free to use their front legs. They were otherwise taken care of and exhibited no stress.)
They like to move it move it
After four weeks, researchers examined their brain scans and discovered something unusual in the region responsible for preserving nerve cell health.
When assessing the sub-ventricular zone in mice’s brains, scholars spotted a 70% drop in total neural stem cells among the sedentary cohort.
“Our study supports the notion that people who are unable to do load-bearing exercises — such as patients who are bedridden, or even astronauts on extended travel — not only lose muscle mass, but their body chemistry is altered at the cellular level and even their nervous system is adversely impacted,” says Dr. Raffaella Adami from the Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.
The comprehensive research highlighted interactions between the brain and legs. Vital messages seem to go both ways. The brain initiates movement; the legs kick off a feedback loop that contributes to healthy neural cell production. Both are necessary to maintain a high-functioning nervous system.
So there you have it. Astronauts take note. Yet another reason to break a sweat and flex your quads.
Drop it like it’s squat
Don’t stress about clocking an extra workout exclusively for your legs this week. A little strategy and thoughtful planning are enough to give your gams the attention they need but if you’re feeling turbo, consider subjecting yourself to this.
As for the rest of you, walk to work or take the stairs.
FOR THE NERDY: Legs for days
What We Love This Week
📽 Sir Attenborough recently declared humanity is tiptoeing out of the Garden of Eden. Do we know where we’re going?
📖 A sceptic's guide to mindfulness? I just finished "Why Buddhism Is True". Densely philosophical whilst reflective and funny. A worthwhile read.
🎧 Who needs flavour when you can have protein? This podcast dissects our peculiar dietary obsession.
Community Feedback (thank you, keep it coming 🙏)
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- Noah Geeves, Co-Founder of Lic
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- Tania Smith Naess, Leadership Psychologist & Co-Founder of CAIA
Your mission this week: A mammoth dose of turmeric, a 4-minute stroll down memory lane, and a lower body workout to put J-Lo to shame.
Have a great week,
PS. Wanna give the gift of Brain Food? Forward this to a friend.