Studies to study: Cold weather makes you slim, and coffee benefits, of course

As we were winging out way above the cold and snow that’s now blanketed the East Coast, a scroll on the airplane seat screen highlighted the following: Cold weather can make you skinnier.

Because we are unusually attuned to the effects of cold, I thought I’d look a little more closely. Turns out, the study is from Harvard Medical School. A quick summary is here and the full report right here:

Brown fat is the heat-producing, calorie-burning fat that babies need to regulate their body temperatures. Most of it disappears with age, but PET scans have shown that adults retain some brown fat. Years ago, Finnish researchers reported that outdoor workers had more brown fat than indoor workers. Dutch researchers reported findings in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2009 that showed that moderately cool temperatures of 61? F activated brown fat in 23 of 24 study volunteers. No one is suggesting that cold weather be used for dieting purposes (not yet anyway). But when we get chilled this winter, we may take some consolation that at least we’re firing up those brown fat cells.

The report does note that this is a “bit theoretical.” But we all know the 1% of theory is important, right? Anyway, all you braving the latest Polar Vort can take some solace.

The next study is one we saw before we left, but failed — probably due to a lack of coffee — to pass on. It’s, obviously, about the benefits of caffeine / coffee:

Michael Yassa, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins, and his team of scientists found that caffeine has a positive effect on our long-term memory. Their research, published by the journal Nature Neuroscience, shows that caffeine enhances certain memories at least up to 24 hours after it is consumed.

“We’ve always known that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing effects, but its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans,” said Yassa, senior author of the paper. “We report for the first time a specific effect of caffeine on reducing forgetting over 24 hours.”

This study is from Johns Hopkins. A reader/alum passed it on to us. (Thanks!) I’ll tweak that finding for Ashtanga: Coffee, along with helping get prana and tapas going, also helps you remember the sequence!

For those waiting on our AYNY, Bobbie has one in the works and I’m reviewing some material, too.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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