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High on Calories

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Obese people are not able to regulate high-calorie food intake because of changes in their brain.
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If your overweight children binge eat, blame it on their flawed brain circuitry. Scientists have now found that despite the desire to cut their food intake, obese individuals will not be able resist junk food, which is very high in calories. That’s because their persistent eating behaviour has precipitated changes in the brain similar to that found in heavy smokers and drug addicts. The study appeared yesterday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

After spending years studying brain changes associated with drug abuse and smoking, Paul Kenny — a neurobiologist at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida, the US — recently turned his attention to obesity. He and his graduate student, Pal Johnson, wanted to understand the strong yet not-so-easy-to-fathom link between obesity and depleted levels of dopamine or D2, a brain chemical associated with feelings of pleasure.

Scientists in the past had observed that obese individuals have reduced levels of dopamine, but weren’t sure if it was triggered by obesity. It was also known that food intake was associated with dopamine release and the degree of pleasure from eating correlates with the amount of chemical released. Evidence has shown that in comparison to lean people, obese individuals have fewer dopamine receptors in the brain. And people with fewer dopamine receptors need to take in more of a rewarding substance — such as food or drugs — to get an effect that others get with a lesser amount. But the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood.

“What we have achieved is proven in our experiments with laboratory rats that obesity can elicit these brain changes,” Kenny told KnowHow over the telephone.

For this, the Florida scientists embarked upon a series of meticulously planned experiments. In the first, they offered rats — which were grouped into three categories — different menus. While the first group had access solely to less-appetising but healthier chow, the other two were offered a choice of high-calorie food such as bacon, sausage, cake and chocolate in addition to chow, but for varying durations. Some rats had access to the rich fare for just one hour, while the other group could gorge on it most part of the day. The animals were fed this way for 40 days. All of them were wired to record even the slightest change in their D2 levels.

The rats in the first set — which were fed only chow — maintained their weight, while those belonging to the second set — which had restricted access to rich food — exhibited insignificant increase in their body weight. On the contrary, the third group — which had unlimited access to calorie-rich food — gained weight rapidly. These animals were found to be gobbling up twice as much as the other two groups. As the days wore on, their dopamine levels plummeted, requiring them to consume higher quantities of high-fat food to get the feeling of satiation. This is quite like the case of a smoker who has to puff away more cigarettes to get the same high that he or she earlier got with one. Or a drug addict who has to continuously increase the dose for getting a kick.

A second set of experiments with the rats showed that this blunting of the reward sensitivity does not return for a good two weeks even after the high-calorie food was withdrawn.

A true addict, whether rat or human, will compulsively consume the addictive substance even when it is clearly detrimental to health. In the third experiment the scientists tested this hypothesis. To do this, the team trained the rats to expect painful foot shocks upon seeing a light signal. Although the normal rats stopped eating even the most delicious junk food when the light came on, the obese ones used to a high-calorie diet simply ignored the cue and kept feeding.

Anoop Misra, head of internal medicine at Fortis Hospitals in New Delhi, says this explains why obese people find it difficult to modulate their junk food eating habits.

“The US scientists’ experiment has substantiated many assumptions associated with obesity and dopamine levels in the brain fairly well,” says Nihal Thomas, an endocrinologist at the Christian Medical College, Vellore. “The exercise and methodology followed are exquisite.” The findings may help develop drugs that may target dopamine receptors to treat obesity, he observes.

Source : The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Health Alert

Foods That Chronic Pain Sufferers Should Avoid

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is a pervasive issue and fibromyalgia is a very common form. It is a chronic condition whose symptoms include muscle and tissue pain, fatigue, depression, and sleep disturbances.
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Recent data suggests that central sensitization, in which neurons in your spinal cord become sensitized by inflammation or cell damage, may be involved in the way fibromyalgia sufferers process pain.

Certain chemicals in the foods you eat may trigger the release of neurotransmitters that heighten this sensitivity.

Although there have been only a handful of studies on diet and fibromyalgia, the following eating rules can’t hurt, and may help, when dealing with chronic pain.

Limit Sugar as Much as Possible. Increased insulin levels will typically dramatically worsen pain. So you will want to limit all sugars and this would typically include fresh fruit juices. Whole fresh fruit is the preferred method for consuming fruit products.

If you are overweight, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, you will also want to limit grains as much as possible as they are metabolized very similarly to sugars. This would also include organic unprocessed grains. Wheat and gluten grains are the top ones to avoid.

Eat fresh foods. Eating a diet of fresh foods, devoid of preservatives and additives, may ease symptoms triggered by coexisting conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

It’s also a good idea to buy organic food when possible, as it’s best to avoid pesticides and chemicals. However, fresh is best. So if you have to choose between local, fresh, non-organic and organic but wilting – go with fresh, and clean properly.

Avoid caffeine. Fibromyalgia is believed to be linked to an imbalance of brain chemicals that control mood, and it is often linked with inadequate sleep and fatigue. The temptation is to artificially and temporarily eliminate feelings of fatigue with stimulants like caffeine, but this approach does more harm than good in the long run. Though caffeine provides an initial boost of energy, it is no substitute for sleep, and is likely to keep you awake.

Try avoiding nightshade vegetables. Nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant may trigger arthritis and pain conditions in some people.

Be Careful with Your Fats. Animal based omega-3 fats like DHA and EPA have been touted as a heart-healthy food, and they may help with pain, as well. They can help reduce inflammation and improve brain function. At the same time, you want to eliminate all trans fat and fried foods, as these will promote inflammation.

Use yeast sparingly. Consuming yeast may also contribute to the growth of yeast fungus, which can contribute to pain.

Avoid pasteurized dairy. Many fibromyalgia sufferers have trouble digesting milk and dairy products. However, many find that raw dairy products, especially from grass fed organic sources, are well tolerated.

Cut down on carbs. About 90 percent of fibromyalgia patients have low adrenal functioning, which affects metabolism of carbohydrates and may lead to hypoglycemia.

Avoid aspartame. The artificial sweetener found in some diet sodas and many sugar-free sweets is part of a chemical group called excitotoxins, which activate neurons that can increase your sensitivity to pain.

Avoid additives. Food additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) often cause trouble for pain patients. MSG is an excitatory neurotransmitter that may stimulate pain receptors; glutamate levels in spinal fluid have been shown to correlate with pain levels in fibromyalgia patients.

Stay away from junk food. Limit or eliminate fast food, candy, and vending-machine products. In addition to contributing to weight gain and the development of unhealthy eating habits, these diet-wreckers may also irritate your muscles, disrupt your sleep, and compromise your immune system.

Resources:
Health.com 2008
Health.com 2007
National Fibromyalgia Association

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Older People More Fit Than Yonger

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The average 50-year-old is now healthier and fitter than someone half their age, a study revealed .
Researchers found the average 25-year-old consumes over 2,300 calories a day, exercises only three times a week and indulges in 12 portions of junk food a month.

But the typical 50-year-old has only 1,990 calories each day, does at least four forms of exercise and treats themselves to just one piece of junk food each week.

And while those in their mid-20s treat themselves to three takeaways a month, the older generation have only one.

The study, commissioned by global nutrition and direct selling company Herbalife, quizzed 4,000 Brits on their diet and lifestyle.

Neil Spiers, Herbalife’s Regional Vice President, said: ‘The results of the study will be surprising to most as it’s natural to think that the younger you are, the fitter you are.

‘It seems many young people are making the mistake of underestimating the benefit of a more balanced, holistic approach to diet and lifestyle.

‘It’s great to think that the older generation are showing the youngsters the way when it comes to healthier living.’
The nationwide research of 16-80 year olds surveyed them about their health and exercise habits.

It found the over-50s are more likely to walk as much as they can during the day – to the shops or with the dog – while those in their 20s tend to drive everywhere.

When it comes to excuses for not exercising, over a third (36 per cent) of 25 year olds blame not having enough time, compared to 22 per cent of over-50s.

The research found 70 per cent of Brits see themselves as healthy – exercising for 27 minutes a day, at least three times a week, opting to go for a walk, run, cycle or gym.

A quarter of Brits polled cycle to see friends or go to the shops, and 70 per cent take the stairs instead of the lift.

Nearly four in 10 walk to the train station or to work in a bid to keep fit.

The study also found the average Brit believes they are overweight by nine pounds.

Over a quarter of the population are currently on a diet – with the ‘low fat‘ (30 per cent), ‘low carb‘ (14 per cent) and ‘detox’ (eight per cent) diets being the most popular.

And they would wish to lose 13 pounds for them to be their ideal weight.

The study also highlighted the lengths people will go to in order to hide their true weight.

Nearly a quarter have fibbed about the amount they eat, one in five has actually lied about their weight and 12 per cent have cut labels out of clothing which revealed their real size.

A cheeky 16 per cent have turned to slimming aids without telling anyone and seven per cent have uploaded misleading pictures on Facebook.

And 30 per cent have ‘binge dieted’ to fit into a dress or to look good in a bikini in time for a holiday.
How the lifestyles compared…

………………………………………….25-year-old…………..50-year-old
Daily calorie intake ……………………….2,321 …………..1,990
Forms of exercise a week ……………………..3………………… 4
Minutes of exercise a day…………………….26……………… 30

Junk food a week………………………………… 3…………………1
Takeaways a month…………………………….. 3…………………1
Units of alcohol a week ……………………….. 6.6…………….. 5.2
Snacks a day………………………………………. 3……………….  2
Number of diets……………………………………2………………..4
Length of average diet in weeks ………………5.2……………..6.7

Source:: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1203224/How-average-50-year-old-fitter-half-age.html#ixzz0MkLvRsRh

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Pregnant? Stay Away From Junk Food


Moms-to-be, beware! The next time you gorge on junk food, think twice, for a new study has revealed that eating a fatty diet during pregnancy could cause long-lasting health damage to your child.

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Researchers believe unborn children could experience a lifetime of ill health if their mothers gorge on junk food during pregnancy

According to researchers in Britain, tucking in junk food like chocolates, wafers and biscuits can have a negative impact on the unborn toddlers — the effects include obesity, diabetes and raised levels of cholesterol.

“It seems that a mother’s diet while pregnant and breastfeeding is very important for the long-term health of her child.

“We always say, ‘You are what you eat’. In fact, it may also be true that, ‘You are what your mother ate’,” lead researcher Dr Stephanie Bayol was quoted by the British media as saying.

The researchers at the Royal Veterinary College in London came to the conclusion after looking at the effects of maternal diet on almost 150 baby rodents. Half of the mother animals were given normal rat food, while the others also had access to junk food, including muffins and chocolate.

Tests showed the junk food pups suffered a host of health problems that lasted into adulthood — they had high levels of cholesterol and other fats linked to heart disease.

Blood sugar levels and insulin were also elevated, raising their chances of developing of diabetes. Even babies fed a healthy diet after birth tended to be overweight. The female rats were particularly badly hit, suggesting key differences in metabolism between the sexes, the researchers found.

According to co-researcher Prof Neil Strickland, it is very probable that humans would be similarly affected, with previous studies showing a correlation between a kid’s weight and that of his or her parents.

“Humans share a number of fundamental biological systems with rats, so there is good reason – to assume the effects we see in rats may be repeated in humans,” he said.

The results of the study have been published in the Journal of Physiology .

Sources: The Times Of India

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18 Secrets to Help You Achieve Your Health Goals

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It is easy to focus on bad habits that you  like to overcome, but how about this for a change: focusing on habits you like to have…….click & see

The tips that follow will help you to put your good habits — like eating healthy, exercising, and taking time to relax — on autopilot, so you can maintain them with very little effort. Here are a few of my favorites (the link below has the entire list):

1. Commit to Thirty Days – Three to four weeks is all the time you need to make a habit automatic. If you can make it through the initial conditioning phase, it becomes much easier to sustain. A month is a good block of time to commit to a change since it easily fits in your calendar.

2. Make it Daily – Consistency is critical if you want to make a habit stick. If you want to start exercising, go to the gym every day for your first thirty days. Going a couple times a week will make it harder to form the habit. Activities you do once every few days are trickier to lock in as habits.

3. Start Simple – Don’t try to completely change your life in one day. It is easy to get over-motivated and take on too much. If you wanted to study two hours a day, first make the habit to go for thirty minutes and build on that.

4. Remind Yourself – Around two weeks into your commitment it can be easy to forget. Place reminders to execute your habit each day or you might miss a few days. If you miss time it defeats the purpose of setting a habit to begin with.

5. Stay Consistent – The more consistent your habit the easier it will be to stick. If you want to start exercising, try going at the same time, to the same place for your thirty days. When cues like time of day, place and circumstances are the same in each case it is easier to stick.

6. Get a Buddy – Find someone who will go along with you and keep you motivated if you feel like quitting.

7. Form a Trigger – A trigger is a ritual you use right before executing your habit. If you wanted to wake up earlier, this could mean waking up in exactly the same way each morning. If you wanted to quit smoking you could practice snapping your fingers each time you felt the urge to pick up a cigarette.

8. Replace Lost Needs – If you are giving up something in your habit, make sure you are adequately replacing any needs you’ve lost. If watching television gave you a way to relax, you could take up meditation or reading as a way to replace that same need.

9. Be Imperfect – Don’t expect all your attempts to change habits to be successful immediately. It took me four independent tries before I started exercising regularly. Now I love it. Try your best, but expect a few bumps along the way.

10. Use “But” – A prominent habit changing therapist once told me this great technique for changing bad thought patterns. When you start to think negative thoughts, use the word “but” to interrupt it. “I’m no good at this, but, if I work at it I might get better later.”

11. Remove Temptation – Restructure your environment so it won’t tempt you in the first thirty days. Remove junk food from your house, cancel your cable subscription, throw out the cigarettes so you won’t need to struggle with willpower later.

12. Associate With Role Models – Spend more time with people who model the habits you want to mirror. A recent study found that having an obese friend indicated you were more likely to become fat. You become what you spend time around.

13. Run it as an Experiment – Withhold judgment until after a month has past and use it as an experiment in behavior. Experiments can’t fail, they just have different results so it will give you a different perspective on changing your habit.

14. Swish – A technique from NLP. Visualize yourself performing the bad habit. Next visualize yourself pushing aside the bad habit and performing an alternative. Finally, end that sequence with an image of yourself in a highly positive state. See yourself picking up the cigarette, see yourself putting it down and snapping your fingers, finally visualize yourself running and breathing free. Do it a few times until you automatically go through the pattern before executing the old habit.

15. Write it Down – A piece of paper with a resolution on it isn’t that important. Writing that resolution is. Writing makes your ideas more clear and focuses you on your end result.

16. Know the Benefits – Familiarize yourself with the benefits of making a change. Get books that show the benefits of regular exercise. Notice any changes in energy levels after you take on a new diet. Imagine getting better grades after improving your study habits.

17. Know the Pain – You should also be aware of the consequences. Exposing yourself to realistic information about the downsides of not making a change will give you added motivation.

18. Do it For Yourself – Don’t worry about all the things you “should” have as habits. Instead tool your habits towards your goals and the things that motivate you. Weak guilt and empty resolutions aren’t enough.

Click to read Related Articles:
147 Tips to a Happier and Healthier Life
13 Tips to Actually Enjoy Exercising
What I Have Learned About Goal Setting as a Means to Success

Sources: Lifehack.org August 14, 2007

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