Dark chocolate consumption reduces stress and inflammation: human trials examining the impact of dark chocolate consumption on cognition and other brain functions

Findings from two new studies show dark chocolate consumption reduces stress and inflammation, while improving memory, immunity and mood.

Source: Dark chocolate consumption reduces stress and inflammation: Data represent first human trials examining the impact of dark chocolate consumption on cognition and other brain functions — ScienceDaily

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Age affects how we predict and respond to stress at home

A recent study finds that older adults are better than younger adults at anticipating stressful events at home — but older adults are not as good at using those predictions to reduce the adverse impacts of the stress.

Source: Age affects how we predict and respond to stress at home — ScienceDaily

Running helps brain stave off effects of chronic stress: Exercise protects vital memory and learning functions

The study finds that running mitigates the negative impacts chronic stress has on the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

Source: Running helps brain stave off effects of chronic stress: Exercise protects vital memory and learning functions — ScienceDaily

Meditation

Fitness and strength are not only physical attributes. They are intangibles of a person as well. In order to achieve anything difficult, challenging, truly meaningful, one must be fit and strong where it counts most: your brain.

There are various strategies to achieve and maintain strength in your thought processes, interpretations and the like. One great technique is meditation. Just the word meditation evokes many different things. It can be as simple or complex as you need it to be. For some, 2 hours a day is needed others need only 10 minutes. The goal is the same: clarity, calm, relaxation, focus.

With so many benefits coming from regular meditation and the fact that it can be done anywhere, with no required equipment, there is no reason to not at least try meditating. Studies continue to be published demonstrating the many positive effects of meditation. On a physiological level, mediation appears to reduce inflammatory processes, boost the immune system, reduce stress, depression, and anxiety, promote cortical gray matter regrowth (regrow your brain), slow and prevent neurological aging, and improve focus and attention. That’s quite a few benefits from something you can do outside for 20 minutes a day for free.

How do I meditate? You may be asking. It’s simple, but not easy at first. It is generally advised that when first going about developing the habit of meditating you should try for twice a day, for shorter amounts of time, 10-20 minutes. The goal is to achieve total relaxation, clarity, and calmness. Both inside and outside. Your body, your thoughts, everything needs to be aligned, and calm but focused. Meditation is a skill and like any skill, it needs to be developed. You’re first day at the gym wouldn’t be a 2 hour workout, so take the same approach with meditating. Work your way up to it, with shorter more frequent periods. As you get more used to the process, you will “go under” more easily and in less time. Your goal is to “go under” and stay there for as much time as necessary. At first it may take time. In 20 minutes, you may only spend a few minutes “under.” That’s ok. Keep at it.

As with eating, exercise, and so much more: what works for you is the best method. I wake up as early as necessary, to get my 20 or so minutes every morning. I feel better the rest of the day for it. The types of meditation are vast and can all be beneficial, transcendental, kundalini, heart-rhythm, mindfulness, and so much more. Research a few, try a few. Ultimately though, do what works.

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Evening hours may pose higher risk for overeating, especially when under stress

Experiments with a small group of overweight men and women have added to evidence that ‘hunger hormone’ levels rise and ‘satiety (or fullness) hormone’ levels decrease in the evening. The findings also suggest that stress may increase hunger hormone levels more in the evening, and the impact of hormones on appetite may be greater for people prone to binge eating.

Source: Evening hours may pose higher risk for overeating, especially when under stress, study finds — ScienceDaily