STANFORD CONTINUING STUDIES BERRY-ELIGIBLE COURSESThis Winter, select Continuing Studies courses will be Berry-eligible for employees participating in Stanford’s BeWell program.
**In order to receive a Berry, students must take the course for Credit or a Letter grade.** Students will be asked to choose the credit option during the registration process. The Continuing Studies program will report student attendance to the BeWell office at the conclusion of the quarter. And, as always, all Continuing Studies courses are STAP-fund eligible.
Winter courses that are Berry-eligible include:
Course: Diet and Gene Expression: You Are What You Eat (BIO 03 W)
Instructor: Lucia Aronica, Postdoctoral Researcher in Epigenetics and Nutrition, Stanford School of Medicine
Schedule: 5 weeks, Jan 14 – Feb 15
Format: Online course
We tend to think that good genes make us thin and healthy, whereas bad genes make us fat and sick. But what if we could turn our “good” genes on and our “bad” genes off, and improve our overall health by making the right dietary and lifestyle choices? The science of epigenetics suggests we can do just that.
In this course, we will provide an introduction to epigenetics, the study of how lifestyle factors can change gene activity without actually modifying the underlying DNA. With that basic foundation in place, students will discover how food is a powerful signal to our genes that can have a positive impact on our metabolism, longevity, and mental well-being. We will specifically explore basic concepts in nutrigenomics, the study of how gene expression can be modified by certain nutrients and bioactive food compounds. We will have live Q&A sessions with two of the world’s leading scientists in this field, Professor Randy Jirtle (University of Wisconsin) and Professor Michael Skinner (Washington State). Using the information covered in this course, along with data gleaned from personal DNA testing (e.g., 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and Genos), students will be able to design a personalized nutrition action plan to positively impact their gene expression.
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Course: New Year, New Metabolism (SCI 45)
Instructor: Clyde Wilson, Research Associate, Biochemistry, UC San Francisco
Schedule: 10 weeks, Wednesdays, 6:30 pm – 9 pm, Jan 16 – Mar 20
Metabolism, or the rate at which your body burns calories, is directly related to health, fitness, and weight loss. A low metabolism can make it harder to achieve all three. Nutrition, movement and exercise, sleep, and stress all have an impact on your metabolism, and research provides us substantial guidance on how to manage this impact to our benefit.
In this course, we will begin with the theory and application of the core components of exercise (cardiovascular, interval, and strengthening) plus the three “Ws” of nutrition (what you eat, when you eat, and water). We will then discuss the fundamental concepts of how to adjust exercise and nutrition to raise metabolism, guiding you in designing and coordinating exercise and nutrition so that they are mutually supportive. This avoids the potential irony of exercise actually reducing your health, performance, or ability to lose weight. The course will also examine how exercise and nutrition impact stress hormones and sleep, since these aspects of our lives are critically dependent on each other. Through weekly homework assignments, each student will develop a comprehensive personal plan for rejuvenating their metabolism from the ground up. This course is geared toward anyone who wonders why their exercise has hit a plateau, why they can’t lose weight in spite of exercising more and eating fewer calories, or why some aspects of their health have worsened even as they try to improve them.
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Course: Purpose: What It Is, Why We Need It, and How to Find It (WSP 92)
Instructor: Leah Weiss, Senior Teacher, Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), Stanford
Schedule: 2 days, Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 am – 4 pm, Jan 26 – Jan 27
Finding purpose in life and work is the key to health, happiness, longevity, and productivity whether at work, at home, or throughout retirement. The problem is that most of us are unaware of what our purpose is or how to find it. Without purpose, we often become less resilient and maybe even struggle to find reasons for living.
This course will present an overview of important research that reveals how purpose can be increased, providing evidence-based tools and strategies that can be experimented with in lab style. Students will participate in interactive exercises designed to help each student discover their sense of purpose in the first place, or put their existing notions of purpose into clearer focus. We will use real-life examples to learn how to address the bad feelings and lack of structure that can lead us to feel purposeless. And we will examine why it’s important to learn from failure, and how to move forward with acceptance and resilience using proven self-compassion and mindfulness techniques. By the end of the course, students will understand why purpose is essential in every stage of life and where to find it.
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Course: The Power of Sleep (PDV 74)
Instructor: Glenn Brassington, Professor of Psychology, Sonoma State University
Schedule: 5 weeks, Thursdays, 7:00 - 8:50 pm, Feb 7 – Mar 7
Format: On-campus course
Sleep powers every aspect of our life. Our focus, attention, memory, mental processing, decision- making, endurance, speed, mood, relationships, nutrition, stress, health, and performance are all enhanced with the right type and quantity of sleep. Forty years ago, 80 percent of people reported that they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their sleep, whereas today’s estimates range from 20 to 30 percent. What accounts for this change? What are its consequences? How can it be reversed? Researchers report that it is not enough to simply follow a list of sleep hygiene guidelines to promote healthy sleep. Individuals need to understand the fundamental principles underlying healthy sleep and then develop a sleep improvement program that is tailored to their unique physiology and psychology.
In this very applied and practical course, students will learn what scientists have reported about the fundamental physiological, psychological, and environmental variables involved in promoting healthy and performance-enhancing sleep. Students will conduct sleep experiments, create a sleep improvement program, and evaluate the effects of sleep on their health and performance. This course will also cover managing jet lag, using sleep to increase creativity and spark innovation, sleep disorders (e.g., sleep apnea), and using technology to assess and improve sleep, which will improve your health and sharpen your mental game.
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Course: Gut Bacteria in Health and Disease: An Introduction to the Microbes Within (BIO 94 W)
Instructor: Tobi Schmidt, Immunotherapy Researcher; Personal Health Advisor
Schedule: 5 weeks, Feb 18 – Mar 22
Format: Online course
The microbes that live on and in us are collectively known as the microbiota. Studies have demonstrated that the gut microbiota exert a strong influence over our health. In particular, the bacteria residing in our digestive tract can influence a spectrum of diseases. Unhealthy lifestyle, especially a poor diet, are key factors contributing to the types of gut bacteria that promote diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, depression, and even neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Recent discoveries show that gut microbiota can be modulated by lifestyle choices and that healthy and unhealthy populations of bacteria can be predicted based on specific lifestyle patterns.
In this course, students will be introduced to the key microbiota that have a profound influence on our health. We will explore how they exert this influence and what lifestyle factors contribute to healthy and unhealthy gut microbiota populations. The course emphasis is on the role of diet in influencing the gut microbiota and our overall health. However, we will also explore other lifestyle factors such as exercise, sleep, and stress, and how they can modulate gut bacteria.
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For more information about Stanford's BeWell program, please visit: https://bewell.stanford.edu/