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    Doctors Are Prescribing National Parks Passes to Patients on the Mend

    Add healing-through-nature to hockey and Tim Hortons as Canadian gifts to world culture. Healthcare providers in four provinces—British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba—can now prescribe free national parks passes to patients as part of their health treatments.

    The country’s new PaRx program, an initiative of the BC Parks Foundation, is designed to help people manage stress and anxiety. More than 6,000 licensed healthcare professionals have registered to prescribe nature to their patients.
    With plans to expand to every province, the program aims to get people outside at least two hours a week. While the savings aren’t much (an annual Discovery Pass costs CAD$72), it’s more about improving health by getting people moving. Benefits touted by the program include increased energy, decreased anxiety, pain reduction, reduced stress and improved heart health.

    “The pandemic has helped people rediscover the importance of being outside,” says PaRx director Dr. Melissa Lem, “and prescribers are seeing its evidence-based advantages.”

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    The Newest Thing in Wellness: Beer Spas

    Romans bathed in wine. Cleopatra in milk. Why not beer? From the Rocky Mountains to Iceland, spas are tapping into what they believe is an emerging market—beer lovers soaking in suds to rejuvenate skin and muscles.

    In the tiny village of Árskógssandur in Iceland, the Beer Spa (Bjórbö›in) puts clients in a hot tub filled with “young” beer, still in the early stages of fermentation. The kambala wood tub is filled with water, live beer yeast, hops, water, beer oil and beer salt. Its low pH is said to tighten and soften hair follicles while cleansing hair and skin. Brewer’s yeast provides vitamin B, protein, potassium, iron, zinc and magnesium. The beer’s hops, meanwhile, are rich in antioxidants and alpha acids, while their oils and minerals are promoted as having an anti-inflammatory effect on joints and muscles.

    Taking the concept stateside, the new Beer Spa in Denver loads patrons in a bubbly beer bath steeped with hops, barley and medicinal herbs. The mile-high brew stew is the brainchild of Damien Zouaoui and Jessica French, who traveled the world before landing in a beer bath in Poland and bringing the concept home. Their 90-minute Beer Therapy Room treatment lets you soak in a cedar tub filled with an herbal beer bath blend. They tout the same effects as their cousins overseas, down to thousands of tiny bubbles enveloping your body in a beer-like fizz. The treatment includes an infrared sauna, rain shower, relaxation deck and self-pour taproom.

    “It felt great—and it smells like good beer, not a frat house floor,” says St. Louis entrepreneur George Lochhead, who partook in the beer soak after heli-skiing. “And it’s so good for your skin you don’t even have to shower afterward. We had fun guessing if it was an IPA or a lager.”

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    This Is Your Brain on Beer

    It’s a brew lover’s worst nightmare: Just half a beer a day can reduce the volume of your brain and stress cognitive powers, per new research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Pennsylvania. That flies in the face of the National Institutes of Health recommendation that considers two drinks a day safe for men. What’s more, says study co-author Remi Daviet, Ph.D., the effects of alcohol on the brain rise exponentially with every additional drink.

    “It’s not linear,” according to Daviet. “It gets worse the more you drink.”
    To conduct their study, researchers analyzed brain MRIs for more than 36,000 people and compared them with surveys that participants filled out about their drinking habits. Researchers found that brain volume shrunk with every increasing drink, to the point that four drinks a day was equivalent to aging the brain by 10 years.

    Worried, but not ready to give up your nightcap any time soon? It’s worth noting, says Daviet, that brain changes after just one unit of alcohol are minor—it’s when you start piling cocktail on top of cocktail that the real damage begins. Translation: Pour yourself a cold one and sip slowly. You’ll want to make this brewski last the night.

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    Best Self-Help Books to Improve Every Area of Your Life

    If we had a dollar for every self-help book we meant to pick up recently, but got distracted by, uh, the world exploding, we’d have enough Amazon credits to buy Eckhart Tolle’s entire library. Instead, we recommend you actually pick up one (or all 20) of the below. Then, make it your mission to read it cover-to-cover. With the best self-help books around, a happier, healthier you is only a few easy chair sessions away.

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    1. The Immunotype Breakthrough: Your Personalized Plan to Balance Your Immune System, Optimize Health, and Build Lifelong Resilience by Heather Moday, MD
    Heard much about bolstering your immune system recently? Out on December 21, 2021, this timely book looks at cutting-edge research and case studies to give you no-nonsense insights on optimizing your health with an individualized plan. The plans are based on your immunotype, which Moday identifies as Smoldering, Weak, Hyperactive, and Misguided. Follow the program and sign up for that half-marathon already.
    Get it

    Courtesy image2. Inner Harmony: Living in Balance by Jon Kolkin
    Sometimes, you just wanna look at photos. Okay, and a bit of inspiring text, too. Here, award-winning photographer and physician Dr. Jon Kolkin chronicles more than a decade of visiting Buddhist communities across Asia, with a first-hand glimpse inside monastery life. The arresting visuals and accompanying words will remind you to slow down, zen out, and remember that your problems probably aren’t as big as you’re making them out to be.
    Get it

    Courtesy image3. When Crisis Strikes: 5 Steps to Heal Your Brain, Body, and Life from Chronic Stress by  Jennifer Love, MD and Kjell Tove Hovik, PhD
    Do you always feel on edge or like the next code red is around the corner? Do yourself a favor and pick up this book—pronto. Co-written by a psychiatrist and a neuropsychologist, you’ll get schooled on what’s happening on a biological level in your body and mind. You’ll also learn how to navigate life’s difficult times and become a more resilient fella, all in some 247 pages. Chronic stress is awful—time to take a proactive step to leave it behind.
    Get it

    Courtesy Dr. Marvin Singh4. Rescue Your Health: How New Advances in Science Can Help You Feel Better, Boost Performance, and Live Longer by Marvin Singh, MD
    Brimming with cutting-edge scientific research and intel on reducing your risk for heart and liver disease, cancer, and degenerative brain disorders. You’ll be taking lots of notes on this one. As Singh capably narrates how to live longer (and better) in easy-to-follow language, you’ll only wish you had gotten your hands on this sooner.
    Get it

    Courtesy image5. Shift into a Higher Gear: Better Your Best and Live Life to the Fullest by Delatorro McNeal
    McNeal, a motorcycle aficionado and honorary PhD, uses biking metaphors to reveal his tried-and-true techniques for improving your life. The book has exercises, journaling activities, and compelling questions to get your wheels turning, too. With any luck—and hard work—you’ll soon be changing your daily habits and feeling happier and more fulfilled than ever.
    Get it

    Courtesy image6. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, MD
    It’s no surprise this 2014 bible on healing from trauma re-graced the New York Times bestseller list during the pandemic. The book guides you through research on psychological trauma and helps you set yourself up for better days ahead. For science enthusiasts, it also provides a fascinating look at how trauma changes the body and mind—and not how you think.
    Get it

    Courtesy image7. Ageless Intensity: High-Intensity Workouts to Slow the Aging Process by Pete McCall
    Want to be skiing and surfing at 100? Us too. In this book, McCall, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, gives the reader research-backed insights on HIIT training and how you can use the principles to get in incredible shape, regardless of your age. Whether you’re looking for a fitness tune-up or hoping for a body transformation, everyone will come away from this book with actionable advice on keeping their joints healthy, muscles strong, and mindset positive.
    Get it

    Courtesy image8. This is Your Brain on Food: An Indispensable Guide to the Surprising Foods that Fight Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and More by Uma Naidoo, MD
    Allow us to state the obvious: You are what you eat. Your brain thinks so, too. In fact, recent studies have revealed that your diet can have a major impact on your noggin, whether in the realm of dementia, sleep disorders, or mental health conditions. In this book, a board-certified psychiatrist, nutrition specialist, and professionally trained chef, helps you understand the science in laymen’s terms and provides you with 40 recipes designed to support brain health. Bon appétit.
    Get it

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    9. Peace from Anxiety: Get Grounded, Build Resilience, and Stay Connected Amidst the Chaos by Hala Khouri
    Yoga teachers, how do they do it? Therapist and yoga teacher Hala Khouri is about to show us. Get ready to overhaul your life with practical tools for managing stress and recovering from hardships and trauma. It may not be the same as your cozy little neighborhood yoga studio (thanks, pandemic), but it will certainly give you a  helping hand in leading a less anxious life.
    Get it

    Courtesy image10. Mindfulness For People Who Suck At Being Mindful: 6 Practical Shifts For Making Mindful Choices, Reclaiming Your Power and Creating A More Fulfilling Life by Melissa Maxx
    This helpful guide covers many aspects of mindful living with a no-frills approach you’re sure to appreciate. Enhance your personal growth, work on carving out more time for yourself, and learn how to cultivate your mind-body connection for a calmer, saner life. If you’re feeling particularly frazzled as of late, join us in walking this path to less insanity, more bliss.
    Get it

    Courtesy image11. Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time by Alex Korb
    This helpful book gives you concrete takeaways on improving your everyday life, whether you’re depressed, anxious, or just in need of a little spiritual SOS. Yes, some tips are refreshers on the obvious: See a therapist, exercise, get a good night’s sleep, but Korb also includes lesser-known techniques that’l have a measurable impact on your wellbeing. (For example, when you’re feeling panicked, set up any kind of plan to activate a region in your brain to make you feel more in control.) FYI: The first part of the book explores the physiological underpinnings of depression, particularly helpful if you’re trying to understand what’s going on in your mind or that of a loved one.
    Get it

    Courtesy of the Tosin King James Archive12. Soul-Fullness, A 21-Day Do-It-Yourself Program for Spiritual Healing, Prophecy, Dream Study, Inner Guidance, and Total Mastery by Tosin King James
    A fitting release for January 1st, this 2022 book will whip you into shape in less than a month, whether you’re dreaming of moving across the country or finding peace with a challenging relationship in your life. We can’t promise the guardian angel depicted on the cover will manifest in your life. But we do think you’ll put down the book feeling like a better version of yourself.
    Get it

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    13. Advanced Chakra Healing: Four Pathways to Energetic Wellness and Transformation by Cyndi Dale
    Okay, so it’s a little out there, but stranger things have happened in the past year than, you know, positing that spinning wheels of energy exist at various points along your body, from your crown chakra to your root chakra. Wherever you fall on the supernatural spectrum, you’re in good hands with Dale. She’s the author of 28 books on energy healing and spirituality. You’re bound to close the book with a new insight or 50 from the hands-on exercises and her teachings. From learning about tapping into your intuition better to energy mapping, this 800-page book is packed with advice to free yourself from energy blocks.
    Get it

    Courtesy image14. Permission to Glow: A Spiritual Guide to Epic Leadership by Kristoffer Carter
    Hoping to get more in touch with your spiritual side, all the while building a business empire? Check out this self-help book for making the most of your career. With plenty of humor and pop culture references thrown into the mix, this is a spiritual guide unlike any we’ve ever read. P.S. Check out this “Good Life Project” podcast if you want to get a sense of what’s in store before buying.
    Get it

    Courtesy image15. Mindfully Wise Leadership: The Secret of Today’s Leaders by Keren Tsuk, PhD
    If you’re looking to enhance your workplace happiness and success, consider this book your personal coach. It has lessons on being a better boss, learning how to engage your employees more meaningfully, and building your empire. Expect plenty of real-world examples, practical tools, and theories to use, all presented in an easy-to-digest format.
    Get it

    Courtesy image16. Aspire!: How to Create Your Own Reality and Alter Your DNA by Frank McKinney
    Need a total life reset? We feel you. Whether you’re recovering from a rough breakup or looking to overhaul your diet, this book shows you how to reinvent all aspects of your life, expand your mindset, and all-around be your healthiest self, mentally and physically. It’s half Tony Robbins, half Louise Hay.
    Get it

    Courtesy image17. Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD
    Originally published in 1990, this fan-favorite is just as relevant now. Here, the father of MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) will help you unlock your full potential, ease your anxiety, help you get a grip on chronic pain, and enhance the overall quality of a day in your head. If you’ve already read this book and loved it, check out Kabat-Zinn’s MasterClass on mindfulness and meditation.
    Get it

    Courtesy image18. The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month by Hilary Sheinbaum
    Pandemic times makes you realize it’s time to cut back or lay off the bottle completely? Consider this book your step-by-step outline for making it through your first Dry January, Sober October, or any other alcohol-free month. The book includes actionable advice for making the shift, DIY mocktail recipes, what to do if you fall off course, and more. We hear it pairs well with any of these nonalcoholic spirits that taste like the real thing.
    Get it

    Courtesy image19. GAIN Without Pain: The Happiness Handbook for Health Care Professionals by Greg Hammer, MD
    A Stanford University Medical Center professor and physician is here to tell you: Life can be better. Much, much better. Written pre-pandemic to address the rising rates of burnout in healthcare professionals, the insights are applicable for anyone struggling to stay afloat during these unprecedented times. P.S. “GAIN” is an acronym here for Gratitude, Acceptance, Intention, and Non-judgment.
    Courtesy image20. This Monk Wears Heels: Be Who You Are by Kodo Nishimura
    Recently named to TIME magazine’s Next Generation Leaders’ list, Nishimura’s hotly anticipated book is out on February 8, 2022. Within, the make-up artist and Buddhist monk shares wisdom and learnings on self-esteem, embracing your true self, and getting by in this crazy world.
    Get it

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    Doing This Every Day Can Lower Your Likelihood of Depression by 23 Percent

    Smacking snooze may keep your reflexes sharp, but University of Colorado, Boulder, research suggests getting out of bed just an hour earlier every day can make you happier. Being a “morning person” corresponds to a 23 percent lower lifetime likelihood of having major depressive disorder. Good news for those looking to mitigate depression with lifestyle tweaks.

    So how do you turn a night owl into an early bird? Hit the sack 15 minutes earlier tonight and set your alarm (located across the room) 15 minutes earlier. Stick with this for two days, then bump up your bed- and wake-time by another 15 minutes. Repeat this until you’ve successfully trained your body to sleep and rise on a different schedule. Other tips: Skip the caffein after 4 p.m., use blackout shades, turn your thermostat to 65 and put away electronic devices an hour before bed.
    If you’re struggling with depression, consult medical help. Here’s how to recognize the signs. 

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    Anger Management: The Best Heavy-Lifting Workouts to Blow off Steam

    The gym can’t replace therapy, but it’s a damn good release when you’re dealing with a tough day at the office or a stressful family affair. Running can be meditative and yoga can be relaxing, but if you need to blow off steam, you need to lift—and lift heavy.

    When your temper is high and you’re frustrated beyond belief, throwing some weight around is an incomparable release. Here are four heavy-lifting routines to help you blow off steam.
    Anger Management: Best Heavy-Lifting Workouts to Blow off Steam
    Workout 1: Locomotion
    Equipment needed: Turf space, loaded sled, heavy dumbbells
    1. Farmer’s Carry — 6 x 50m: Stand tall with a weight in each hand. Maintain a “proud” chest, pull shoulder blades down and back, and walk forward using short heel-to-toe steps. Aim for your body weight equivalent to be carried. If you can’t find dumbbells that can equate to this, try loading a trap bar to that equivalent instead. Rest 90 seconds between carries.
    2. Sled Push — 6 rounds x 50m: Stand behind the sled with arms straight and flexed, body leaning forward. Drive the sled using a fast yet controlled pace. Again, aim for bodyweight equivalent to be pushed. Rest 90 seconds between pushes.
    3. High Box Jump — 5 x 6 reps: Squat down to just above parallel and bring arms back behind hips. Explode with a strong forward-arm swing, tucking your knees after you’ve fully extended your legs. Land softly in the same squat depth you started with. Stand up tall, locking hips to finish the movement. Rest as long as needed between jumps.
    Workout 2: Upper-Body Power Play
    Equipment needed: Slam ball, bench, pullup bar, dumbbells
    1. Med Ball Slams — 5 x 15 reps: Keep the weight relatively light (15 pounds) but move explosively to blow off steam and torch calories. With feet shoulder-width apart, reach to full extension with the ball overhead (try not to bend your elbows). With your full force, slam the ball down between your feet. Pick the ball up and repeat. Rest 60 seconds between rounds.
    2A. Dumbbell Bench Press — 10 reps: Go heavy. Sit on end of bench, holding dumbbells resting on thighs. Lie back, guiding dumbbells over chest with legs, then plant feet to start. With dumbbells angled in and thumbs over collarbone, squeeze shoulder blades together and down. Press weights over chest to a wide V shape, then return to start.2B. Plyometric Pushups — max reps: Don’t clap your hands during the pushups. It’s an easy way to catch a finger and be out with a silly injury. Just explode up from the bottom position so hands come off the floor, then immediately drop into the next rep.
    Directions: Perform 4 contrast sets of bench press and plyo pushups, resting 90 seconds between rounds. Contrast sets comprise a heavy lift followed by an explosive movement that mimics the mechanics of that lift. These trick your muscle fibers into exploding even more than they normally would since the body is duplicating the loaded pattern during the second set.
    3. EMOM Chinups — 10 x 5 reps
    Directions: EMOM stands for every minute on the minute. Start your clock and perform the first 5 reps with the clock running. It should take you around 15 seconds, give or take. The remainder of that minute (the next 45 seconds) is your recovery. Once the next minute begins, you should be starting your first rep of set 2. Repeat until you’ve completed 10 sets in this fashion.

    Workout 3: Leg Day From Hell
    Equipment needed: Squat cage, barbell, kettlebell, leg press
    1. Paused Back Squats — 5 x 3 reps: In a squat rack, grasp the bar as far apart as is comfortable and come under it. Step back and stand with feet at shoulder width and toes turned slightly out. Inhale, then bend your hips and knees to lower your body using a slow negative. Pause at your full depth (you shouldn’t lose the arch in your low back). Extend through hips and push knees out to stand. Nothing beats standing under the heavy bar when you’re on your last nerve. Rest 2 minutes between rounds.
    2. Romanian Deadlift — 5 x 8: Grasp the bar at shoulder width, holding it in front of your thighs. Bend your hips back and lower your torso, allowing your knees to bend only as needed, until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Focus on a hovering RDL, rather than touching the floor with the barbell. Extend your hips to come back up. If your back begins to round, you’ve either gone too heavy or descended too low. Rest 2 minutes between rounds.
    3A. Kettlebell Swing to Squat Swing x 12 reps: Perform a typical kettlebell swing, but at the top of the swing, use the weight of the bell to counter your balance as you squat, then rise to go into a swing. It may take a couple of reps to get the rhythm down.3B. Barbell Split Squat x 8 reps each side: Load a barbell and rack it in the back squat position. (Use a power rack, or clean and press barbell and rest it on shoulders.) Stand tall with feet hip-distance apart, knees soft. Step right foot back two to three feet so torso is equidistant between feet. Plant the ball of back foot on ground and keep heel raised to start. Lower right knee toward floor until left knee is bent at a 90-degree angle and shin is perpendicular to the ground. Press through left heel to rise and return to start. Do all reps with right leg back, then switch sides.
    Directions: Perform 3A and 3B as supersets, performing 3 total rounds. Rest 2 minutes between rounds.
    Finisher: Heels-Elevated Leg Press x 2 min: This is a maniacal finisher that’ll torch the quads, helping you blow off steam and then some. The goal here is to match your body weight on the leg press machine, and perform continuous reps until the 2 minutes has elapsed. You can’t rack the weight, but you can rest-pause when needed with straight legs. Focus on the quads by keeping a narrower stance that’s lower on the platform, allowing the heels to raise off the platform at the bottom end ranges. You’re only doing one killer set of these, so make it count.

    Workout 4: Isometric Mayhem
    Equipment needed: Squat cage, safety pins, barbell, and two benches
    Note: The goal with isometric training is to work as hard as possible against the immovable object. If you’re not giving it your all, you’re missing the immense training benefits. This method doubles as a great way to blow off steam since, well, you’re going to zap your nervous system and every shred of pent up energy you may have had at the start of the workout. Once you give it a try, you’ll see.
    1. Isometric Deadlift — 6×30 sec.: Set the pins on the squat cage to the lowest setting, and wedge the bar between the bottom of the cage and those pins. Set up for a typical deadlift, pulling the bar into the pins as hard as possible. Keep the form strict, and attempt to lift the entire machine off the ground (assuming you can’t). Rest 60 seconds between sets. 
    2. Isometric Bench Press — 5×30 sec.: If you don’t have a Smith machine setup, use a bench or squat cage with pins. Set up so the racked bar is above your chest, rather than your eyes, at a low-rack position that allows you to keep elbows bent at 90 degrees. Make sure the bar is loaded to a weight far above your 1RM, and press as hard as you can into the bar for 30 seconds straight. Rest 60 seconds between sets.
    3. Back Plank — 5 x 20 sec.: Set up between two benches while seated on the floor. Place elbows on the benches, and keep arms at a 90-degree angle to your body. Make fists, look at the ceiling, and raise hips off the ground by planting feet into the floor and driving elbows into the benches. Squeeze glutes and upper back to keep your body from falling below the level of the benches. Return to the floor to rest for 90 seconds between sets. 
    4. Wall Sit — 3 x 1 min.: Take a “seat” against the wall with knees bent at 90 degrees. Press your back into the wall with force to engage the quads. If 1 minute is beyond your current capabilities, go as long as you can. Rest as long as needed between sets.

    Lee Boyce is a strength coach based in Toronto, Canada

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    Gifts for Men: 20 Big-Ticket Items to Splurge On

    Gifts for men can be tricky. Do you want it to be utilitarian, meaningful, personalized, or just plain cool? Some might argue the perfect gift is a combination of them all. In any case, if you’re shopping for big-ticket items that have a certain wow factor, buckle up. We have 20 epic items worth splurging on, perfect for friends, brothers, dads, partners, or even yourself.

    Of all the times to treat yourself, now certainly seems like a good one. From gadgets for amateur astronomers to wellness devices to quell anxiety from a world on fire, we’ve got the best gifts for men across tech, fitness, outdoor gear, and more.

    TCL 6-SERIES 4K ROKU TV Courtesy Image
    He’s been streaming a lot of MasterClass, Acorn, and discovery+ as of late—along with the regular mix of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Enhance his viewing experience with this beautifully designed set that includes Roku’s voice control, thousands of micro-meter class mini-LED backlights for a stunning picture, and access to 250,000+ free movies and TV episodes through Roku’s built-in OS. Considering TCL/Roku has won several awards in 2021 already, you can feel confident the brand lives up to the hype.
    [From $700;]
    Get itHammerhead Karoo 2 Courtesy Image
    2. Hammerhead Karoo 2
    Karoo 2 is a newcomer, but billed as the cycling computer Tour de France winners use. It’s smaller than industry competitors’ but boasts an impressive slew of features like high-resolution mapping, performance data visualization, navigation capabilities, and regular updates When pre-sales were available last fall, the gadget sold out in days, so cyclists should add this to their toolkit ASAP. You know, before investor Lance Armstrong and Israeli billionaire Sylvan Adam tell all their friends. More

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    Binge-Drinkers Have a Harder Time Feeling Empathy

    A glass of wine may be good for your ticker, but too much booze can damage your heart in a more metaphorical manner: Researchers at the University of Sussex in England found that binge-drinking (defined as drinking three-quarters to a bottle of wine at once) impedes people’s ability to empathize with another person’s pain.

    To study this, the scientists monitored brain activity in binge-drinkers (sober at the time) and non-binge-drinkers as they were shown images of an injured body part and asked to rate the pain experienced by a person with this injury. It took binge-drinkers longer to respond, they perceived the pain to be minimal, and the areas of their brains responsible for feelings like empathy lit up on the screen—suggesting binge-drinkers have to work overtime to imagine someone else’s angst.

    Why does binge-drinking mess with your ability to tune into other people’s feelings? “During a binge-drinking episode, large amounts of alcohol enter the brain within a limited time period, followed by a period of no drinking—as opposed to regular drinking in which a person might consume similar weekly amounts of alcohol, but without the extremes of intoxication and withdrawal,” says study author Dora Duka, M.D., Ph.D.

    Tthese swings in alcohol levels appear to cause dysfunction in part of the brain. “The pattern of binge-drinking seems to poison the brain both during intoxication and during withdrawal.”
    Bottom line: Go steady on the booze and practice moderation.

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