Anna Tommerdahl

51 posts

Measuring and Managing Stress and Anxiety

Everyone has some experience with stress. It could be acute stress from cramming for a test (or two) in high school, getting the jitters before a big race or game, or experiencing a traumatic event; or it could be a chronic dose of stress from your job, from the lack of having a job, taking care of a sick loved one, or being chronically sick yourself. Stress can come in all shapes and sizes, but do all of these scenarios affect our brains the same way? What exactly is going


Weeding Through the Latest in Cannabinoid Research

"Marijuana", "pot", and "weed" are among a few of the street names used to refer to cannabis, a popular pyschoactive drug that is starting to become legalized for recreational use around the nation. While your parents might have warned you back in the day that "Sitting around smoking pot will turn your brain into mush!", there has never been any scientific data to prove any harmful or lasting neurological impact from cannabis use.

In fact, today, you might encounter someone who argues


The Brain Gauge is a Functional Measure

A functional measure simply tells you how well something works. In the physical world, there are lots of functional measures. How fast can you run a mile? How much weight can you lift? How fast can you swim across the pool? Can you run up 2 flights of stairs without getting out of breath? These measures tell you something about performance and how well your body functions when it tries to do something - when it is stressed or pushing the envelope.

Why are functional measures important? After all, I


Sometimes our Stomach Seems to have a Mind of its Own

The enteric nervous system (ENS), the nervous system that innervates our gut, is fairly extensive and plays an important role in both our physical and brain health.

If you’ve read many of our other posts, you know that we like to take a systems-level (or "holistic") approach when talking about brain health. In contrast to reductionist science which looks at a small portion of a larger system in isolation from all other parts of the system (which, to be fair, does have its place sometimes), we recognize


Sun Exposure and Brain Health

Sun exposure is linked to positive effects on brain function, but in order to quantify these benefits, you will just have to measure it for yourself.

Surely you are familiar with the warnings surrounding over-exposure to the sun and the potential danger of it's powerful UV rays. While we are constantly reminded by advertisements, doctors and worry-some parents to protect ourselves by wearing sunscreen, hats and clothing, we also know that sun exposure is essential to our well-being. Sunlight is required for us to produce Vitamin D, and low levels


Valentine's Day: The Health Benefits of Love


Losing Your Mind Without Sleep

The question of “why do we sleep?” has long been asked and has never been well understood. Despite it being a subject of study as early as the 1700’s (although probably earlier), there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding our need to spend up to a third of our lives in an unconscious state. As suggested by Jessen et al. (2015), the 25% reduction in brain energy metabolism isn’t really enough to suggest that sleep is a means of energy conservation. When thinking on an evolutionary scale,


Obesity and Dementia: Is There a Connection?

How’s your new year’s resolution going? If you’re one of the stereotypical Americans who made a resolution to get in shape and lose weight this year, then you might also be the stereotypical American who loses motivation for that goal a few weeks into the new year. A new study published in Neurology may help you to regain that motivation.

It’s not uncommon for us to hear in the news about the negative effects that obesity can have on the peripheral parts of our body—things


Eating Your Way out of Cognitive Decline

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is pretty daunting. Current conventional medicine will tell you that there is no cure. The media is constantly reminding us that the disease is not just devastating to the person with the diagnosis, but to the caretakers as well. Especially in the beginning stages, it can be extremely frustrating for the inflicted person to know that they are losing their cognitive abilities and the capability to care for themselves. It’s no surprise that as people age, minor lapses in memory such as


A Tofurkey Thanksgiving: Friend or Foe?

Whether you skipped the turkey and opted for a soy-based protein during yesterday's holiday meal, or if you sat silently judging your millenial niece as she refused a serving of the feature dish, you might be wondering: "what's all the fuss about soy?"

Even if you aren't able to keep up with the latest health food trends, you’ve probably heard about soy and its reported health benefits and concern about its potential dangers. Depending on who you ask, you can hear vastly different opinions about the effects