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.
Sudden physical exertion and intense emotions triple the risk of a heart attack within an hour.

Physical exertion and strong emotions activate the body’s stress response, triggering the release of hormones that restrict blood flow to the body’s tissues, including the heart. A 2016 study found that these stressors increase the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Researchers conducted a case-control study involving more than 12,000 cases of acute MI among people living in 52 countries. They asked the participants about their physical activities and emotional state in the hours before the onset of symptoms. They estimated the odds of acute MI within one hour of triggers.

They found that 28 percent of those who experienced an acute MI had engaged in physical activity or were emotionally upset one hour before symptom onset. The likelihood of experiencing an acute MI was 2.31 times higher after physical exertion and 2.44 times higher after emotional upset. However, those who reported both physical exertion and emotional upset were 3.05 times more likely to experience an acute MI within one hour. The increased risk was consistent regardless of the participants' geographical location, sex, baseline physical activity, or age.

These findings suggest that sudden physical exertion and emotional upset increase the risk of acute MI. However, robust evidence demonstrates that regular physical activity is crucial for preventing cardiovascular disease, including acute MI, especially among inactive people. The authors of this report recommended that clinicians continue to advocate for regular physical exercise and caution patients that intense physical activities could trigger an acute MI in those at risk.

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Psilocybin reduces symptoms of depression, especially among people with secondary depression.

Antidepressant use is increasing worldwide, especially in high-income countries. However, roughly 30 percent of people taking the drugs are resistant to their effects. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis found that people with depressive symptoms who took psilocybin were two times more likely to respond to treatment than those not taking the drug.

Researchers analyzed the findings of randomized clinical trials that evaluated the effects of psilocybin therapy on depressive symptoms. They included nine studies involving 436 patients in their analysis.

They found that participants taking psilocybin were two times more likely to respond to treatment than those not taking the drug, especially among those with secondary depression, which can arise due to another medical or psychological issue. Participants experienced few adverse effects, and most were mild and transient. Interestingly, those who had used psychedelics before experienced greater symptom relief, possibly due to “expectancy bias” – a phenomenon where a person’s previous experience makes them expect positive results.

These findings suggest that psilocybin exerts potent antidepressant effects. Although the treatment response was high, the review’s authors graded the quality of the evidence as “low” due to heterogeneity among the studies, including dose and concomitant psychotherapy.

Psilocybin is a psychedelic compound present in mushrooms. Learn more about the effects of psilocybin and other psychedelic drugs in this episode featuring Dr. Roland Griffiths.

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Creatine supplementation improves muscle strength and function, potentially averting functional disability in older adults.

Older adults often experience acquired functional disability – a newfound inability to carry out tasks necessary for independent living. This disability often arises due to the skeletal muscle wasting that can occur with acute periods of disuse, such as during hospitalization or illness. A recent systematic review found that creatine supplementation improved physical function in older adults at risk for acquired functional disability.

Researchers analyzed the findings of randomized controlled trials that investigated the effects of creatine supplementation on physical function in older adults. Their analysis included 33 trials and more than 1,000 participants, about half of whom had a chronic disease.

They found that creatine supplementation improved participants' handgrip strength, lean tissue mass, and upper-body muscle strength with few adverse effects. About two-thirds of the studies practiced creatine loading, with a daily maintenance dose ranging from 0.07 to 0.3 grams per kilogram of body weight. The most common dose was 5 grams daily. The investigators deemed the quality of evidence as “low” or “very low” due to study heterogeneity.

These findings suggest that creatine supplementation prevents acquired functional disability in older adults. A possible contributor to acquired functional disability is catabolic crisis, a phenomenon defined by periods of accelerated declines in muscle mass and functional capacity. Catabolic crisis can occur at any age but is more common among older adults, for whom injuries, surgeries, or prolonged illnesses dictate long and sometimes frequent periods of physical inactivity or immobilization. These cumulative insults drive older adults toward a disability threshold from which they might not recover. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may reduce the risk of catabolic crisis. Learn more in this episode featuring Dr. Chris McGlory.

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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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