Your weekly brain-changing content in under 5 minutes:
A daily dose of Vitamin C could help fight neurodegeneration.
There’s now legit research on this ASMR thing.
Playing outside really is better for you than playing Mario Kart.
Want More of This? Get Some Brain Food Every Week.
C? IT'S TIME FOR BRAIN DEFENCE
TL;DR: Fight brain-aging free radical foes with a daily boost of Vitamin C.
Are free radicals really super-villains?
Easily mistaken for the vaguely annoying 90s band, New Radicals, (responsible for the soul-searching lyrical genius of “You Get What You Give”), free radicals can be pretty bad for your brain. They occur naturally within the body, but if left unchecked they cause oxidative stress, which leads to disease, premature aging, and neurological degeneration (like Alzheimer’s).
I don’t want any of those things. Help!
Luckily, protecting yourself is fairly simple. According to an NCBI review of many different studies on the subject, maintaining healthy vitamin C levels can have a protective function against age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
Eat vitamin C-rich foods to combat free radicals, prevent against mental decline, and keep your brain in tip top shape as you age.
Sidenote: oranges have been lying to you.
Oranges like to make out like they are the Big Kahunas of vitamin C, but other citrus fruits, berries, melon, kiwi (I could keep going) are all great sources too. Not feeling that fruity? NBD. Vegetables like broccoli, leafy greens, peppers, tomatoes, and the humble spud are all high in vitamin C too. Here’s a handy list to stick on your fridge.
FOR THE NERDY: Here’s more about free rads, the brain, and vitamin C. (Is it lame that I just shortened it to “free rads”?) [source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
FEELING A WEIRD TINGLE?
TL;DR: Scientific backing for the youtube ASMR sensation.
"Do you experience ASMR?"
It’s the kind of question you might have been asked during Freshers’ Week if ASMR existed back then. The kind of probing, on-the-spot question to induce chronic self-doubt, back sweat, and stammered non-committal responses to avoid giving yourself away. Well, don’t fear. Dawn is here.
Ok… so what is it?
ASMR, short for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is essentially a kind of sound therapy that not everyone experiences. It’s been sweeping the internet, with millions using the videos to reduce stress, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. If you do experience it, it feels like a relaxing, tingling sensation that starts in the crown of your head and moves down the body. In a nice way. ASMR artists film themselves performing tasks like whispering, stroking, and crinkling papers using hyper-sensitive microphones to try and trigger viewers into having an ASMR response. I know, I know, it sounds weird.
You really need to just try it.
According to a study by researchers at the University of Sheffield, people who experience ASMR had a reduction in heart rate of an average 3.14bpm when watching the videos, which is similar to the physiological effects of music and mindfulness therapy.
“One noise fits all”, does not apply.
If you’re trying to figure out if you do experience ASMR, it’s important to try a few different kinds as you never know what’s going to do it for you. Kind of like… lots of other things. There are three main types:
Trigger heavy - these focus on specific sounds like microphone brushing or ear cupping.
Casual role play - (bear with me here), this would be a simple scenario involving soft talking and the occasional trigger sound or visual.
Visual trigger videos - these are for people who are triggered by sounds and visual stimuli. Imagine someone touching your face, if that gives you the tingles you’re lucky enough to have visual triggers too.
FOR THE NERDY: More than a feeling. [source: journals.plos.org]
TL;DR: Lower your cortisol levels by going outside.
Always listen to your mum
Turns out she was onto something. Walking or sitting outside in nature has been proven to significantly lower cortisol levels. In an eight-week study, cortisol, aka the stress hormone, was reduced by spending just 20 minutes a day outside. The cheesily-named, 20-minute “nature pills”, *cringe* will actually be prescribed by doctors as a cost-effective method to combat stress.
No cheating though
In order for your daily stress-reduction to be effective, you can’t skirt the system by taking your tech with you, the whole point is to get away from all that. You also can’t combine your nature time with a run, reading or phone calls. Doctor’s orders.
Be with the trees
This is a pretty easy way to de-stress during your workday, and a nice excuse to be away from your phone and desk for a bit. Find somewhere that feels like nature to you, and just be.
FOR THE NERDY: Nature pills for stress reduction. [source: neurosciencenews.com]
WHAT WE LOVE THIS WEEK
Watch: Shonda Rhimes (creator of Grey’s Anatomy), said yes to every single thing (including the scary stuff), for a year, and then did a Ted Talk, so you can decide if it’s a good idea to face your fear. [Youtube]
Listen: Whether you do or don’t experience ASMR, the benefits of meditation are something we can all get on board with. Untangle explores mental wellbeing with industry experts and interesting real-life stories. [meditationstudioapp.com]
Read: Everyone loves an underdog, but this bit part player became Europe's comeback King this week and attributes his mindset to psychology. [Guardian]
So there you have it. Get outside, eat a nice kiwi (other fruits and vegetables are available, I just chose that one cos my wife is allergic and I want to see if she reads). If you enjoy reading Dawn then get Tweeting, and listen to someone crinkling things in your ears for ultimate brain health points.
Thanks for reading,