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The Plunge

🧊 The Plunge - January 4, 2024

Published 5 months ago • 4 min read

Clarity on staying healthy and happy arrives every day, from all corners of the globe. The Plunge brings you the information you always wanted: current, clear-cut answers from the world's leading scientists and creators.



BLOG

What's there to worry about?

“Comparison is the thief of joy”. Like Adam Grant, writer and professor, I used to take this attitude to heart. Recently, he pointed out that it’s not comparing ourselves to others that sucks the beauty from life, but being envious. Looking toward another’s accomplishments is necessary for improvement. It’s when we desire their achievements that life loses it’s zest.

I envision The Plunge as more than interesting, water-cooler research articles. It’s not the number of our years but their quality that matters. What’s a long life if lived under a cloud of anxiety? Worrying that the guy next door, or thousands of miles aways, is more "successful". Anxiety that we’ll never achieve our career goals or get to truly relax.

For most people, life is little more than a game. It’s not survival. It's more like a dance. We don’t struggle to eat, get clean water, or find shelter. We manifest problems that, if fixed, still don't improve our lives. Better titles, more notoriety, bigger homes. They’re prizes of pleasure that rarely quench our deepest thirst for happiness.

Despite knowing this, I strive for a rigid, consistent, productive life. When plans get interrupted, I struggle. Hard. Planning to work: impromptu family gathering. Sitting down to read: baby’s crying. Fasting until dinner: wife asks to have lunch.

The anxiety, sadly, typically comes from a place of envy. How will I ever build a business if I can’t focus on work this Saturday? Without sitting down to read, when will I finish these 30 books? If I'm forced to have lunch, will I ever lose this belly fat? I’ve created expectations for what feels like success and the ‘right’ path. It’s as if my full attention on creating a business, reading books, and being fit is the only way to happy life.

Kicking off 2024, my mind is fixed on doing less. Simplify my workouts and diet. Remove social media and distracting content. Take a break from coffee. With all of these, and that constant quest for career success, I strive for consistency. Last year I proved a lot to myself thanks to consistency. The Plunge is real because I worked on it every possible morning. I even kicked a few bad habits, thanks only to good decisions, made repeatedly.

That said, I see now how valuable the interruptions can be. Anxiety is a looking-glass into what worries us. Fortunately, this has allowed me to question whether I’m worried about things that matter.

Putting off work to spend time with family. Reading later so I can play with my son. Crushing a double-decker club sandwich with my best friend. Seriously, what’s there to worry about?

RESEARCH

Vibrating Away Obesity

Can't we just trick ourselves into thinking we're full? That's the goal of engineers at MIT who developed an ingestible capsule that creates the illusion of fullness through vibrations. Following a large meal, the stomach stretches and sends signals to the brain to stop eating. The vibrating capsule activates the same receptors in the stomach. Animal studies showed it to be extremely effective, reducing food intake by nearly 40% through the release of satiety hormones.

The obvious goal is to help spur weight loss and appetite control through a minimally invasive option. The capsule is no bigger than most multi-vitamins and doesn't begin vibrating until gastric fluids dissolve its outer membrane. Future work will look to extend the time it can spend in the stomach and allow for remote activation. It's a promising, creative idea for taking on obesity but still requires additional trials before getting into the hands, and bellies, of humans.

Science Advances

The Smell of Women's Tears

Feeling overly aggressive lately? A few tears might be just what you need. Research out of the Weizmann Institute of Science has shown that chemicals in women's tears reduce aggression in men. Social chemosignaling, where chemicals are emitted by one member of the species that then produce hormonal and behavioral changes in other members of the species, is common in animals but less understood in humans. The experiment involved men unknowingly sniffing either women's tears or odorless saline while playing a game that provoked aggressive behavior. In the game, the men had the chance to retaliate against a seemingly cheating player by causing financial loss.

Aggressive responses dropped by over 40% when men were sniffing real tears. At the same time, MRI scans showed reduced activity in the aggression-related brain regions compared to smelling saline. Similar to the situation in mice, the study suggests that human tears contain chemical signals that can influence aggressive behavior in others, which brings back the age-old question: do animals cry?

PLOS Biology

Perceived Time and Healing

Healing takes time. The perception of time at least. Mind-body unity is the theory that our minds perception impacts our physiology. In a recent study, researchers were able to show that one's perception of time, and not the true time elapsed, impacts the rate of healing. Participants received standardized wounds and they operated under one of three conditions: Slow Time (half as fast as clock time), Normal Time (same as clock time), and Fast Time (twice as fast as clock time). Despite the actual elapsed time being 28 minutes in all conditions, healing, as rated by individuals blind to the conditions, varied significantly across the group.

Results showed that more healing occurred in the Fast Time condition and less in the Slow Time condition, suggesting the psychological experience of time plays a part in physical healing.

Nature

Fasting As We Age

Not everything gets better with age, and that includes fasting. As we grow, the benefits of fasting decrease thanks to the role of AMP kinase, which diminishes with age.

Researchers at The Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing studied killifish, a rapidly aging fish, to understand how fasting changes throughout an organisms lifespan. Young fish responded normally to fasting and refeeding, but old fish remained in a fasting state even when they were fed. This amounted to lowered metabolism, decreased protein production, and less tissue renewal.

The specific subunit of AMP kinase which played a role is also known to be lower in elderly humans. By genetically boosting the subunit's activity in old fish, researchers were able to reverse the fasting state and give the fish improved health and lifespan. The next step is finding the proper molecules to activate the subunit in humans.

Nature Ageing


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The Plunge

by Corey Garvey

Hey I'm Corey, the curator of The Plunge, my newsletter focused on healthspan and longevity. The Plunge gives subscribers up to date articles, podcasts, and videos about longevity and remaining mentally fit while living a long, happy life. ~Corey

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