Science Digest
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Every two weeks, I send members my Science Digest—a curated collection of research summaries featuring the studies we found the most interesting, with notes, comments, and related links.
Hi, I'm Dr. Rhonda Patrick
Each of us comes with our own unique susceptibilities to age-related diseases. But I believe that each of us can take the genetic program we've got and use it just a little bit more optimally — and we owe it to ourselves to maximize that potential. In the Science Digest, we explore the science of how everyday choices like what we eat and what we do can help us live a little bit better. Each digest story is a breadcrumb ushering you through the maze of scientific discourse toward practical everyday health strategies.

By becoming a member of FoundMyFitness premium, you'll receive the Science Digest every-other-week covering the latest in my exploration of recent science and the emerging story of better living — through deeper understandings of biology.
Twice per month, I send members my Science Digest
A curated collection of research summaries featuring the studies we find most interesting, with notes, comments, and related links.
The latest issues sent to Premium Members discuss:

  • Ketogenic diet, by replacing glucose with ketones as an energy source, lessens alcohol cravings among people with alcohol use disorders.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease-related death by up to 23 percent, especially in people with high triglyceride levels.
  • Women see a 24 percent drop in premature death risk with just 140 minutes of weekly activity – half the time men need for similar benefits.
  • Aging undermines the brain's capacity for maintaining working memory, with subtle declines in neuron activity and connectivity in the prefrontal cortex.
Light-based therapy enhances recovery after spinal cord injury in rats by reducing tissue scarring and promoting nerve cell regeneration.

More than 900,000 people worldwide experience a spinal cord injury each year, primarily due to falls and motor vehicle accidents. These injuries often cause lifelong physical debilities, impairing mobility and reducing quality of life. A recent study in rats found that photobiomodulation (light-based therapy) enhanced recovery after a spinal cord injury.

Researchers investigated two light-based therapy methods using a rat model of spinal cord injury. One method used transcutaneous (through the skin) red-light or laser-light treatment, while the other used an implantable device.

The researchers found that both delivery methods produced comparable outcomes, with a daily one-minute dose of 660-nanometer light for seven days reducing tissue scarring at the injury site and enhancing functional recovery. They also noted increased levels of proteins associated with nerve cell regeneration and improved connectivity between cells in the injured spinal areas.

These findings suggest that photobiomodulation enhances recovery after spinal injury in rats and holds potential for future therapeutic applications in humans.

Photobiomodulation employs specific wavelengths of light to stimulate biological processes within cells and tissues, triggering a cascade of physiological responses. Evidence suggests photobiomodulation has potential applications in medicine, dentistry, cosmetic procedures, and scientific research. Learn more about photobiomodulation in our overview article.

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Just two hours of daily screen time lowers psychological well-being and increases negative behaviors in preschool children.

Technology enriches our lives, enhancing communication, improving healthcare, and providing access to vast amounts of information. However, the amount of time we spend on the devices that deliver that technology may be harmful, especially for young children. A recent study found that two hours or more of daily screen time among preschoolers lowers psychological well-being.

Researchers analyzed data from the 2018-2021 National Survey of Children’s Health, focusing on children aged six months to five years. Primary caregivers reported the children’s daily screen time and provided information about their flourishing and externalizing behaviors – indicators of psychological health.

They found that over the four-year study period, 50.9 percent of the children had high screen time, defined as one or more hour daily for children aged six months to one year and two or more hours daily for children aged two to five years. The percentage of children with high screen time increased to 55.3 percent during the pandemic in 2020 and was even higher among children living in poverty (60.9 percent). More than two hours of daily screen time was linked to less flourishing and more externalizing behaviors for children aged three to five years.

Flourishing refers to the presence of positive emotions, relationships, and adaptive functioning. It plays a crucial role in reducing the risk of antisocial behaviors later in life. Externalizing behaviors, such as hyperactivity and aggression, reflect maladjustment to the external environment. They can hinder learning and relationships and may lead to juvenile delinquency and adult violence.

These findings suggest that excessive screen time may harm psychological well-being in preschool-aged children. Parents and caregivers should be mindful of screen time limits to promote better mental health outcomes for young children. Learn more about the effects of screen time on children and teens in this short video featuring Dr. Rhonda Patrick.

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Moderate zinc intake – less than 11 milligrams – reduces the risk of developing hypertension by 7 percent, but higher intake increases the risk by 14 percent per additional milligram.

Zinc is an essential nutrient that participates in many biological processes, modulating the activity of more than 300 enzymes and 2,000 transcription factors. It plays critical roles in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division. A recent study found that moderate zinc intake reduces the risk of hypertension; however, higher intakes markedly increase the risk.

The study involved more than 12,000 participants who did not have hypertension at their enrollment. Researchers assessed the participants' dietary intake using three consecutive 24-hour dietary recalls combined with a household food inventory. They tracked participants for about six years to identify new cases of hypertension, defined as having a systolic blood pressure of 140 mmHg or higher, a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or higher, being diagnosed by a physician, or being under antihypertensive treatment.

They found that the relationship between zinc intake and hypertension risk demonstrated a J-shaped curve – that is, the risk fell with moderate intake but dramatically increased with higher intake. Moderate zinc intake (up to 10.9 milligrams daily) decreased the risk of developing hypertension by 7 percent. However, when consuming 10.9 milligrams or more daily, each additional milligram of zinc increased the risk of hypertension by 14 percent.

These findings suggest that moderate zinc intake may help reduce the risk of developing hypertension, but excessive intake markedly increases the risk. Zinc plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy blood pressure by supporting the activity of nitric oxide synthase, an enzyme that regulates blood flow and vasodilation. Zinc deficiency impairs the vasodilatory response and can reduce taste sensitivity, potentially increasing salt intake and elevating blood pressure. Learn more about zinc in our comprehensive overview article.

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We mine the data, you reap the benefits...
Compelling study piques my interest
Our team looks for studies that offer new or surprising results or bolster earlier research. We aim to identify research that stands out because of its innovation or significant findings.
Team analysis
We examine the chosen study closely, checking its methods, findings, and relevance. This step ensures we fully understand the research and its contribution to the field.
Found merit-worthy
A study passes our process if it meets our criteria for quality and pertinence. This means the research is solid and valuable to you, our Premium Members.
Published in issue with thoughtful commentary
We summarize the selected studies in our biweekly Science Digest with comments explaining the findings. This helps our readers grasp the significance of the research and its implications.
Here’s what members have to say about our Science Digest
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Thomas Tomazin
Rhonda, you help me take control of my personal health. I do not have a healthcare provider that stays up to date on current research or latest treatments. Your Q&A and Science Digests help me to optimize my health and for that I am eternally grateful!
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Sharon Regina
I've been a premium member since 2019 and continue to find value in both the members' Q&A and the weekly Science Digest [...] The Science Digests include curated summaries of the latest information on healthspan/longevity science and, similar to the FMF podcasts, the FMF team distills everything into an understandable language for us non-scientists.
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Robin Judice
I look forward to your Science Digest updates. I follow science literature on health and aging fairly closely, but you always share research that was not on my radar. Your synopsis of the research offers succinct and clear overview. I often take these links and do further reading. Very helpful.
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Stephen Margison
I look forward to the Science Digest email to keep me abreast of latest health news that I can implement. It is an excellent read.
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Arturo Castelo
I look forward every month to your Q&A and Science Digest. I have learned so much and the fact that we can ask you questions is so cool for me.
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Anker Bell
The Science Digest has become the best way for me to discover the latest insights into improving health.
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Noreen Thompson
I am a Holistic RN, and Rhonda Patrick’s FoundMyFitness Science Digest consistently provides accurate information with searchable references on interesting topics. I highly recommend premium membership to access all the content!
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Jackie Hutchings
Invaluable, indepth information which has changed they way I live. Investing in your health is probably the most important thing you can do to live a full and happy life. Cannot recommend highly enough.
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Mike Nelson
The Science Digest is one of the very few e-mails I actually look forward to receiving. I love hearing about the latest health and fitness research and trust Rhonda to filter through the info that will be of most benefit to me.
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