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Catch Some Rays to Boost Gut Health

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Fresh evidence is emerging of a skin-gut axis that links type B ultraviolet (UVB) exposure to the microbiome, a finding that has implications for those suffering from autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. University of British Columbia researchers divided 21 healthy young women into two groups: Nine took vitamin D supplements during Vancouver’s long, dark winter, and 12 didn’t. After three months, only the non-supplement-takers tested as being deficient in vitamin D. Both groups were exposed to three, one-minute, full-body UVB light sessions; within a week, vitamin D levels increased 10 percent on average and the gut microbiota diversity of the low-D group rose to match that of the sufficient-D group. Along with other probiotic bacteria, Lachnospiraceae species, typically low in the guts of people with inflammatory diseases, increased with the UVB exposure.
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Global Brief: Natural Thinking Spending Time in Nature Increases Cognitive Performance
More of our time is spent indoors than ever before. One of the ways by which nature may improve cognitive function (i.e. the acquisition of and goal-oriented use of knowledge) is by improving memory formation and recall, specifically that of short-term or working memory, and goal-oriented or directed attention; the kind that requires focused effort. By comparing and contrasting 13 studies, a team of researchers has shed light on this complex interaction in research published in Frontiers in Psychology. The studies used the backwards digit span task, which requires participants to invert a series of numbers and repeat them back. All demonstrated significantly improved cognition in nature as compared to urban environments. The benefits of studies like this are two-fold: not only are we learning more about how the brain interacts with its environment, but also how to leverage this interaction to lead healthier, more productive and happier lives.
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