Bad’ carbs stimulate brain region involved in addiction – by Sharon Kirkey

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Boston Children’s Hospital researchers who scanned the brains of men after they drank milkshakes containing rapidly digesting, highly processed carbohydrates found the men experienced a surge in blood sugar followed by a sharp and sudden crash four hours later.

That plummet in blood sugar activated a powerful hunger signal and stimulated the brain region considered ground zero for addictive behaviour.

“We showed for the first time that refined carbohydrates can trigger food cravings many hours later, not through psychological mechanisms — a favourite food is just so tasty, you need to keep eating — but through biological effects” on the brain, said lead author Dr. David Ludwig.

The study was small and focused exclusively on men. As well, the notion of food addiction is highly controversial and “vigorously debated,” the team writes.

Still, the findings suggest that limiting foods high in highly processed, “high glycemic index” carbs such as white breads, white bagels, white rice, potatoes and concentrated sugars could help overweight and obese people control the urge to overeat, they said.

The research was inspired by the work of renowned University of Toronto researcher Dr. David Jenkins, who, in 1981, together with colleagues, first proposed the concept of the glycemic index — a measure of how fast, and by how much, foods raise blood sugar and insulin levels.

In the new study, the Boston team wondered whether the sudden rapid surge then crash in blood sugar from eating high GI foods could directly affect the brain.

“Overweight people, by definition, overeat. They’re consuming too many calories to keep themselves at a healthy body weight,” said Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“Despite many people’s best efforts they’re unable to stick to a reduced calorie diet over the long-term,” he said. People tend to regain whatever weight they lost, “and then some,” after six months or a year.

“We wondered whether that could, in part, be driven by changes in brain function caused by refined carbohydrates.”

Earlier studies have shown that tasty, high-calorie foods can trigger the pleasure centre in the brain, raising the notion of “food addiction.”

But Ludwig said those studies typically compared “grossly different foods,” such as cheesecake versus boiled vegetables.

His team performed functional MRI brain scans — machines that capture the brain at work in real-time — on 12 overweight or obese men aged 18 to 35 after they consumed two liquid test meals that looked and tasted identical, and contained the same amounts of calories and carbohydrates.

The only difference was that one shake contained fast-digesting, high-GI carbs, the other slow-digesting carbs.

After the high GI liquid meal, blood sugar surged initially, but then crashed four hours later. The men not only reported greater hunger, their MRI scans also showed intense activation in the nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain involved in reward and craving.

“Humans need food to survive,” Ludwig said. “But in the last few decades, our food supply has been transformed by highly-processed, hyper-palatable food products.” As a result, the glycemic load of the typical diet has risen substantially, he said.

“Our research suggests that some of these foods might hijack the reward systems of the brain and produce symptoms related to addiction.”

The study appears in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Currently, about 62 per cent of the Canadian adult population is overweight, and the heaviest weight classes are growing the fastest.

skirkey@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/sharon_kirkey

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/touch/story.html?id=8598082

New Study Links Wheat To Weight Gain and Diabetes by Sayer Ji

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A new animal study published in the journal PLoS sheds light on a possible mechanism behind the weight- and diabetes-promoting properties of wheat observed in humans, and perhaps offers some vindication for Dr. William Davis’ New York Times best-selling but heavily criticized book ‘Wheat Belly,’ wherein the argument is made that wheat is a major contributing factor to the epidemic of obesity and diabetes presently afflicting wealthier, gluten-grain consuming nations.

In the new study, researchers from The Bartholin Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark, explored the role that gliadin, a difficult to digest class of proteins within wheat, plays in promoting weight gain and insulin secretion in both animal and cell models, finding that gliadin-treated mice gained 20% more weight (by day 100) than gliadin-free controls, and that gliadin fragments induce insulin secretion in pancreatic beta cells, the cells responsible for producing insulin, and which in type 1 diabetes are destroyed or rendered dysfunctional.

Gliadin does not break down easily in the body because they are extremely hydrophobic (“water fearing”), and contain disulfide bonds (the same kind found in human hair and vulcanized rubber);[1] as a result, undigested wheat gliadin fragments can enter through the intestinal wall, gaining systemic access to the human body. This can result in inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, among many other possible negative health effects (note: we have documented over 200 adverse health effects associated with wheat exposure).

Gliadin fragments have even been found in mother’s milk, indicating they are capable of traveling freely throughout the body (not unlike another wheat toxin known as WGA), and can therefore affect the health of newborns. Indeed, the association between gluten consumption and conditions such as juvenile-onset type 1 diabetes is well established in the biomedical literature, with 11 studies on the topic indexed on GreenMedInfo.com alone: see Wheat Type 1 Diabetes Connection.

The researchers referenced previous experiments demonstrating a gluten-free diet lowers diabetes incidence in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice from 64% for chow fed controls, to 15% for the gluten-free group,[2] with a further 6% reduction by keeping the mother on a gluten-free diet during pregnancy. [3]

While the new study did not find gliadin treatment “caused” type 1 diabetes, they did conclude that based on their observations of gliadin’s weight-promoting and insulin secretion inducing effects “[G]liadin fragments may contribute to the beta-cell hyperactivity observed prior to the development of type 1 diabetes.” They also described two implications of their findings: 1) gluten peptides may cause higher insulin secretion at basal glucose levels. 2) gluten peptides may lower the insulin response to glucose over time. In other words, gluten may contribute to the development and exacerbation of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, by causing both and/or either beta cell overstimulation and burn out (type 1) and insulin resistance (type 2).

The researchers describe a case of type 1 diabetes put into remission through a gluten-free diet:

Observations implicate gluten’s influences on the development of diabetes in humans. A particular compelling T1D case describes a patient, who remained healthy, devoid of insulin therapy for 36 months, after being prescribed a gluten-free diet at the time of T1D diagnosis. His stable fasting blood glucose levels at 5.8 mmol/l, indicate that a gluten-free diet may be a method to protect beta-cell function in patients. However, the protective effect remains to be tested in clinical trials of T1D patients. This gluten-free diet approach may enhance beta-cell rest, by circumventing gliadin-induced increase in beta-cell activity, which we have described in this study.

The researchers also conclude that a “…gluten-free diet may also be beneficial in preserving beta-cell function in type 2 diabetes (T2D).”

This study, like many that have come before it, indicate that reducing and especially eliminating wheat and related gluten-containing grains from the diet is the best strategy for preventing the development of diabetes and weight gain associated with elevated insulin levels. Learn more about the dangers of wheat by reading the Dark Side of Wheat or exploring our Wheat and Gluten education page.

Also, consider that even after severe damage is done to the beta cells in the pancreas, resulting in type 1 diabetes, there are plenty of natural compounds that have been studied to stimulate beta cell regeneration, opening the door to natural alternatives to conventional treatment. Our recent article on the topic addresses this research in greater detail: 10 Natural Substances That Could Help Cure Type 1 Diabetes.

Read more here: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/new-study-links-wheat-weight-gain-and-diabetes

The Mindset that Doubles Your Heart Attack Risk by: Cassie Shortsleeve

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Don’t dwell on it: People who think their stress levels negatively impact their health have double the risk of heart attack than those who shrug it off, finds new European research.

Scientists asked more than 7,000 people how much their life stress affected their health, then followed them for 18 years. At the end, those who originally said stress had an extreme impact on their well-being—about 8 percent—were twice as likely to have experienced or died from heart failure. While those people tended to have higher overall levels of angst, the results held even after the researchers accounted for biological and psychological risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

“It could be that anxious people also have this sense that [their stress] is going to do them in,” says Eric Topol, M.D., director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute. And the worrywarts might be right: “Stress does increase the incidence of heart disease,” Dr. Topol adds, “but your reaction can modulate that risk.”

Work strain riling you up? Put the extra energy toward upping your intensity at the gym. In a recent BMJ Open study, people who worked out harder instead of longer were more likely to ward off metabolic syndrome, a combo of risk factors like obesity and high blood pressure that raises your risk for heart disease.

http://news.menshealth.com/the-mindset-that-doubles-your-heart-attack-risk/2013/06/26/

Practical Tips for Improving your Sleeping Habits

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When was the last time that you had a good night’s sleep? How about the last time you felt light and comfortable as you woke up in the morning? Can’t remember having those feelings anymore? Well, you are not alone. More than a million of people on our planet suffer the same misery in sleeping.
An adult requires at least seven to eight hours of sleep per day. However, for older people, sleeping hours maybe shorter. If you consistently wake up feeling exhausted and still want to go back and lay on the bed, that’s a sign that you are having sleeping troubles.

Continuously living without enough sleep may put your health at risk. Your stamina will be lowered and your immune system will be down. In addition to that, you will experience frequent mood changes, memory loss and lack of concentration. Since you are always sleepy, even at work, you are also prone into any kind of accidents.

One of the good ways to combat sleeplessness is to make your bed comfortable for sleeping. It should be wide enough, the mattress and pillows should be soft enough, and you should have enough blankets and comforters with you. Such things matter in making a nice and comfy bed.

After setting-up your bed, you should check your sleeping environment as well. Your room’s ventilation should be adequate as well as the temperature should be on a right level. Not too cold, and not too hot. In addition, as much as possible, choose a room that is away from the streets to lessen the noise coming inside. In short, keep your room as quiet as possible. If this is unavoidable, better use a fan, white noise orsound recordings that are calming and relaxing. On top of that, keep your room dark during sleeping hours. Put enough curtains or shade to avoidoutside light sources, such as a street lamp, from coming inside your room. Turn off your computer monitor as well as your TV since those lights may confuse your body clock. You can also try using an eye mask for your eyes.

Now that you have a comfy bed and a nice room to sleep in, it is time that you adjust your activities before you sleep. Yes, there are certain activities that can help to prepare you in having an adequate night’s sleep. Even though you are stressed and tired, make an effort to relax yourself. Wind down and you’ll see that sleeping will come easier.

Consistently doing routines before bedtime that are relaxing will help in sending signals to your brain that it is time to fall asleep. Thus, have enough time to relax and have a quiet moment. You may listen to soft music, read light and entertaining materials or you may have a warm glass of milk or even a glass of wine.

The point is that you need to find what works for you and when you hit on something you need to make that your nightly ritual. Just as we do with our children, we may ask them to brush their take a bath, brush their teeth, then we read them a bedtime story before turning out the lights – and our children may have their special needs such as the bedroom door opened or closed or a night light, etc. We have to find our nighttime comfort zone and get in touch with it each night.

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1sRXmp/www.sleep-aid-tips.com/practical-tips-for-improving-your-sleeping-habits.html

Best On The Go Meal Plan by Melissa Koerner

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You’re busy. You’re working long days. You want to eat healthy, but you don’t have the time to make meals.

I completely understand.

To help make planning tomorrow’s meals really easy for you I’m sharing with you one of my personal on-the-go meal plans.

By taking just a few minutes to think ahead about what you need to sustain you for your 8+ hour day ahead, instead of reaching for something in the vending machine or ordering lunch out when the hunger pangs strike, you are going to have some healthy foods on hand that will make you FEEL BETTER and help you get though your day with more energy, better mental focus and a full, happy belly!

Here are five items to pack in your cooler before you head out the door for a long day’s work ahead. (Of course, you can always pack your cooler the night before, which is what I do to make the morning less stressful.)

1. Very Berry Green Smoothie
This is my go-to breakfast smoothie. It’s packed with healthy fats, proteins and carbs, so it’s really filling. But most importantly, it tastes good!

Here’s what you need to make it:

8-10oz plain, full-fat organic yogurt
¼ c frozen raspberries
¼ c frozen strawberries
¼ c frozen blueberries
¼ c frozen blackberries
1 heaping handful of greens (I like spinach, swiss chard and/or kale)
1-2 tbsp raw honey
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 tbsp buckwheat
1 tbsp coconut oil

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until you achieve the desired consistency. Pour into an insulated stainless steel container so it stays cool until you’re ready to drink it.

Here’s my secret smoothie weapon…

2. Greens with Fresh Veggies and Hard Boiled Eggs

Taking a salad to work is a great option because you don’t have to heat it in the microwave (the microwave destroys the heck out of your food!)

Not to mention that organic greens help detoxify your liver so they basically help keep your body clean.

There are some many different ways to make a salad—the combinations are endless.

But here’s what I make when I want to keep in really simple:

Mixed greens (lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, kale etc.—I buy the pre-made organic greens so they’re already washed and ready to go.)
Yellow peppers
Hard boiled eggs
Fermented carrots (These add a nice flavor and the juice makes for a tasty dressing; I like the company “Real Pickles”)
2 tbsp flax oil
2 tbsp sunflower seeds

If you get bored eating salads, I suggest mixing up your proteins. I typically use the leftovers of my dinner from the night before.

3. Apple Slices
I suggest slicing your apple so you can eat half as your mid-morning snack and the other half as your midafternoon snack. Be sure to buy organic apples. They’re on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) “Dirty Dozen List.”

4. Almond Butter
Almond butter is my favorite nut butter! Almonds are not only a great source of proteins and fats, but they’re also a great source of calcium. Put 1-2 tbsp of almond butter in a small glass container to dip your apple slices in for a balanced snack.

5. Water
Pack a water bottle—either a stainless steel Kleen Kanteen or glass container—so you always have water on you. The ideal amount of water to drink each day is about 50% of your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weighed 140 pounds you’d drink 70 ounces of water each day.

So there you have five things to pack in your lunch cooler tomorrow!

And if you’re looking for some more quick and healthy meal ideas, I urge you to check out our DIY Healthy Solutions On The Go Program which is available online for you to access at your convenience.

http://friendyourbody.com/profiles/blogs/best-on-the-go-meal-plan#

7 Foods That Reduce Stress by Barbara Mendez

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Feeling overwhelmed at work? Try adding some of these stress-busting foods to your diet.

Most people struggle with balancing life demands with work commitments. But for entrepreneurs, finding balance can seem near impossible. The pressure of getting everything done can be overwhelming. And, if left unchecked, that stress can lead to other issues, including high blood pressure and depression.

Worst of all, stress leads people make poor food choices. When you self-medicate with junk food, it can actually amplify anxiety and do more damage to your health. But there are a few healthy foods that actually help offset stress. Include these in your regular diet, and you’ll feel more grounded and more productive. You might even lose a few pounds in the process.

1. Turkey. Turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that boosts serotonin production, which helps alleviate stress. Add turkey to your morning omelet or slice it up into a salad at lunch.

2. Spinach. This leafy vegetable is great source of magnesium, a mineral that helps promote a sense of calm. Spinach, which is a great source of fiber, also helps boost your energy levels. Opt for this instead of lettuce in your salad at lunch.

3. Salmon. This fish is full of Omega 3 essential fatty acids, which help to boost serotonin production. The DHA (docosahexanoic acid) in Omega 3 fats help to nourish the brain while mitigating stress hormones. Plus, the Omega 3 in salmon can reduce inflammation and promote healthy blood flow, both of which are compromised with chronic stress. Enjoy wild Alaskan salmon up to three times a week.

4. Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are a rich source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids, which help reduce stress. Walnuts are one of the best sources of Omega 3s. Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain tryptophan, which boosts serotonin production and can take the edge off a stressful day. Have a handful of nuts as an afternoon snack.

5. Oatmeal. The complex carbohydrates in oatmeal help to boost serotonin production. Plus, oats have a lot of calming magnesium as well as potassium, which has been shown to help lower blood pressure. Have a bowl for breakfast with some walnuts and cashews, as well as some cinnamon to help stabilize your blood sugar, and you will on your way to a more tranquil day.

6. Citrus fruit. Oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits are a great way to get your vitamin C, which studies show reduces stress levels. Plus, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that boosts your immune system. Have an orange in the afternoon for a calming and nourishing snack.

7. Sweet potatoes and carrots. Root vegetables are a good source of fiber and carbohydrates, which can help to boost serotonin production. Plus, because they are subtly sweet, they can offset cravings for sugar. Sweet potatoes and carrots are also a great source of vitamins and minerals that are good for your blood pressure and your heart. Have a handful of baby carrots with some almond butter in the afternoon or a sweet potato with dinner a couple of times a week.

http://www.inc.com/barbara-mendez/7-foods-that-reduce-stress.html

Barbara Mendez is a nutritionist in New York City. For more information about her private practice, visit BarbaraMendezNutrition.com.

4 Easy Diet Tips to Improve Your Digestion and Manage Your Weight by Premal Patel

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You’re tired of hearing about all the different diets, what you can and can’t eat, and how quickly you should be losing weight. You know there’s no miracle weight loss trick. You have a million things on your plate, and the last thing you have time to worry about is making a chore out of your meals.

But you want to feel healthy and energetic. You’re exercising and trying to “eat right”, and you want that to be enough. Your body should be your teammate in this game, not your nemesis. You are doing your best to be kind to your body and nourish it; you expect that in return, it should move towards a more balanced state, including a more healthy weight.

Ayurveda has 4 tips for you…straightforward to incorporate and bound to make a difference. They hit at the core of your metabolism, helping to remove the toxic build-up that clogs channels and reset your digestive capacity.

Here they are:

Drink hot water. Hot water both kindles your digestion and flushes toxins out of the system. Just keep your hot thermos or mug near-by, and sip throughout the day. You will notice a difference within only a few days…your digestion will improve, and your tissues will thank you for it. This isn’t the same as a hot coffee or hot tea. It may take a little getting used to, but plain hot water will become a soothing favorite to carry around with you, at home and at work. In addition to the hot water, be sure to drink plenty of room temperature water to stay well hydrated. Iced and cold water do the opposite of what you want, destroying your body’s natural digestive ability.

Make lunch your biggest meal. Ayurveda teaches that the body’s rhythms align with the natural rhythms. When the sun (nature’s fire) is at it’s peak, so is your digestive fire. Take advantage of this and make lunch your full meal. For breakfast, have something light and warm. And do the same for dinner, or skip dinner on the nights that you aren’t hungry.

Avoid snacks. Your digestion works at its peak when it has sufficient time to actually digest everything that you put in, which happens in phases. If you keep throwing things in at random times, even if they are healthy snacks like fruits and veggies, you get two problems according to Ayurveda. First, the bulk of food that was eaten with your last meal doesn’t get the time that it needs to be fully digested before your enzymes start all over again with the new food, and you end up building toxins. And secondly, your body relies on the snacks as a source of fuel and energy, and so it doesn’t go to your body’s reserves (the accumulated fat cells) for fuel to burn.

Detox. Because of the world we live in, it is inevitable that you end up with exposure to some toxins, and they build up in your system. Healthy bowel movements are one of the main ways that toxins get flushed from your system. Hydration and leafy greens are key here. Herbal supplements like Triphala provide both rejuvenation for your system and support for healthy bowel movements.

A healthy movement is a critical part of well-being for any age, starting from childhood through the aging years.

Read more here: http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/4-easy-diet-tips-to-improve-your-digestion-and-manage-your-weight/