Neurolife Lab: Lifestyle as Medicine

     
In the past, the effects of diet and exercise have been associated exclusively with bodily systems, yet ongoing research at UCLA NeuroLife Lab reveals that these lifestyle factors are also multifarious and long-lasting modifiers of mental health and cognition. Emerging developments in the field of neurobiology indicate that the causes of many cognitive and psychological disorders lie within environmental factors such as the poor management of lifestyle habits. If a proper relationship between our brain and our surroundings is not maintained, we can become vulnerable to the influence of an array of CNS-associated challenges and illnesses.
      Thus, the proper management of lifestyle habits can arm us with the brainpower necessary to fortify cognitive reserve and battle various brain and spinal cord diseases. So far, we have found that dietary and exercise factors can affect the CNS through a broad spectrum of molecular and cellular impressions, varying from effects on energy homeostasis to modifications of signaling pathways involved with synaptic plasticity. However, these discoveries are just the tip of the iceberg and a large body of work remains to be explored in this field.
       Currently, we are studying the effects of dietary and exercise factors on the immune system, gene regulation, microbiota, and epigenetics as determinants of neural health. Further research on this integrative network of lifestyle influences on the brain and spinal cord would establish the exciting possibility of developing a natural, non-invasive, and cost-effective therapeutic solution against a long-standing global dilemma. Because of its implications to solve global problems of nutrition and mental health, these pursuits have surpassed the need for expensive and invasive treatment and instead offer a plea of natural and affordable simplicity in turning the most basic aspects of life – feeding and movement – into treatment itself.
 

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