The Nuance

Your brain is equipped with a waste management system that does most of its work while you slumber

Photo: Lux Graves/Unsplash

Two centuries ago, the Scottish physician Robert Macnish theorized that the purpose of sleep was to “renovate the mind” by offering it a period of deep repose.

The idea that sleep helps rejuvenate a weary brain had been around long before Macnish’s time. But as recently as 20 years ago…

The Nuance

Certain tasks encourage psychological detachment from work, which can prevent stress and burnout

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Betty White, who died New Year’s Eve at the age of 99, liked to drink a vodka on the rocks every night before dinner. According to the Financial Times, White often credited both her longevity and her career success to her evening cocktail.

Alcohol has plenty of downsides. (And White…

The Nuance

At 30, your mental muscles have likely already begun to weaken

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In Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, a character is asked how he managed to go bankrupt. “Two ways,” he replies. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

For a lot of people, age-related cognitive decline follows a similar trajectory.

At first the loss of mental sharpness is imperceptible. But one day you may…

The Nuance

Research in the field of chronobiology strengthens the case for a morning meal

Photo: Peter Secan / Unsplash

Should you, or shouldn’t you? The Great Breakfast Debate has been raging for more than 800 years and shows little signs of mellowing.

Its roots date back at least to the Middle Ages when prominent members of the Catholic Church (notably Thomas Aquinas) adopted the view that “eating too early”…

The Nuance

Experts say low-dose aspirin might be an underutilized weapon in our battle with the coronavirus

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During the first months of the pandemic, back when vaccines were little more than a wishful ambition, the global medical community was desperate for something — anything — that could weaken the mortal grip of severe Covid-19 disease.

Aspirin emerged as an early drug-of-interest.

Covid-19 does its damage primarily via…

The Nuance

Expanding our definitions of harm, trauma, and mental disorder may be a “mixed blessing,” experts say

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Several years ago, in 2013, the American Psychiatric Association made a controversial change to its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

For years, the DSM’s criteria for diagnosing depression had included what was known as the “bereavement exclusion.” In a nutshell, the exclusion stated that people who had…

The Nuance

The optimal amount, preparation, and timing — according to the latest research

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Gertrude Stein once wrote that coffee “is a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening.”

The more experts study coffee, the more that “something” seems to be good for us.

Just this month, a large study in the journal PLOS Medicine found evidence that those who drink 1…

The Nuance

A new theory could resolve long-standing contradictions in the saturated-fat research

Photo by Alexander Maasch on Unsplash

It’s a mystery that has confounded nutrition scientists.

People who have high levels of cholesterol in their blood — especially LDL cholesterol, a.k.a. the “bad” kind — are at elevated risk for cardiovascular disease.

Meanwhile, foods high in saturated fatty acids — including eggs, full-fat dairy products, and red meat…

The Nuance

Cancer risks, Covid-19 disappointments, and hidden health lessons

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

In 2001, a team of American cancer researchers launched one of the largest clinical trials ever conducted.

Known as the SELECT trial, the study was led by some of the country’s foremost cancer experts, including doctors at the National Cancer Institute, the Cleveland Clinic, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research…

Markham Heid

I write about health, science, and psychology. My work has appeared in Time magazine, the New York Times, Vice, and elsewhere. I live in Germany.

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