Good Nutrition Advice

For a healthy body and mind

Month: July 2015 (Page 1 of 2)

This is your brain on fried eggs

This Is Your Brain On Fried Eggs

Brain, motivation and eating a high-fat diet

Eating a diet high in fat can cause impairments in the functioning of the mesolimbic dopamine system, according to Stephanie Fulton of the University of Montreal and the CHUM Research Centre (CRCHUM.)

This system is a critical brain pathway controlling motivation. Fulton’s findings, published today in Neuropsychopharmacology, may have great health implications:

“Our research shows that independent of weight gain and obesity, high-fat feeding can cause impairments in the functioning of the brain circuitry profoundly implicated in mood disorders, drug addiction, and overeating — several states and pathologies that impinge on motivation and hedonia.”

Hedonia relates to a mental state of wellbeing.

“Another key finding is that the effects of prolonged high-fat feeding to dampen the sensitivity of this brain reward system are specific to saturated fats — palm oil used in this study — but not monounsaturated fat such as the olive oil used in this study.”

The research team obtained these findings by working with three groups of rats. The first group of rats was the control group: they were given a low-fat diet containing roughly equal amounts of monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids. The second group was given a monounsaturated high fat diet, of which 50% of the calories were from fat derived from olive oil. The third group was given a saturated high fat diet — again, 50% of the calories were from fat, but this time derived from palm oil. The high-fat diets were all the same in terms of sugars, proteins, fat content and caloric density, and the animals were free to eat as much or as little as they liked.

After eight weeks, all of the rats still had comparable body weights and levels of insulin, leptin (which are major metabolic hormones) and relative glycemia.

At this time, the rats underwent a series of behavioural and biochemical tests known to be indicative of the functioning of rats’ dopamine system.

“We established that the rats on the palm diet had a significantly blunted dopamine function.

“Our research group and others hypothesize that this leads the brain to try to compensate by heightening reward-seeking behaviour, much like the phenomenon of drug tolerance where one has to increase the drug dose over time to get the same high. So, a person consuming too much saturated fat may then compensate a reduced reward experience by seeking out and consuming more high-fat and high-sugar foods to get the same level of pleasure or reward.”

Fulton’s study is the first of its kind to show that, regardless of weight changes, unrestrained intake of saturated fats can have negative effects on the controls of motivation by the brain. Fulton said:

“As we were able to control for changes in body weight, hormones and glucose levels, we think that the fats may be affecting the dopamine system by a direct action in the brain. We in fact have separate evidence that brain inflammation could be involved in this process, as it is evoked by saturated high-fat feeding, which will be presented in a future publication.”

Why Tasty Foods Like French Fries Leave You Wanting More

Why Tasty Foods Like French Fries Leave You Wanting More

How processed foods change the brain’s ability to recognize fullness.

Eating high-fat, processed foods may stop the brain sensing fullness, leading to overeating, a new animal study reports.

The research was conducted at the University of Georgia, Washington State University and Binghamton University (Cooper et al., 2015).

They switched rats’ normal diet to a high fat diet and found that the new diet changes the populations of bacteria living in the gut and alters the signalling to the brain.

Consequently, the body doesn’t feel full and wants more food, which leads to obesity. Dr Krzysztof Czaja, the principal investigator on the study, explained:

“When we switch the rats to a high fat diet, it reorganizes brain circuits. The brain is changed by eating unbalanced foods. It induces inflammation in the brain regions responsible for feeding behavior. Those reorganized circuits and inflammation may alter satiety signalling.”

After a switch to an unbalanced diet, microbiota in the gut will change. Dr. Czaja said:

“In the regular physiological state, many different strains of bacteria live in a balanced environment in the intestinal tract. They don’t overpopulate. There are little shifts, but in general this population is quite stable.

When we start feeding the rats a different diet, there is an immediate effect. Suddenly, different nutrients are changing the micro-environment in the gut and some bacteria begin to overpopulate.

Some sensitive bacteria begin to die and some populations may even vanish. So, introducing a significant change in the gut micro-environment triggers a cascade of events that leads to this population switch.”

Why Tasty Foods Like French Fries Leave You Wanting More

These changes lead to gut-brain miscommunication which happens when nerve cells that carry signals from the gut to the brain are inflamed and damaged.

Whether or not the change is reversible or permanent is a question that Dr Czaja and his colleagues will address in the future.

The body is accustomed to foods sourced naturally and so highly processed and artificial foods are new to our bodies.

This research shows how the introduction of modified foods high in fat and sugar can disturb intestinal microbiota and gut-brain communication which can result in obesity.

How Much Dietary Fat is Healthy?

How Much Dietary Fat is Healthy? Why Government Guidelines Are Unscientific

It’s time to drop restrictions on total fat consumption, experts argue. How much dietary fat is healthy?
 There are no benefits to limiting the total amount of fat in your diet, scientists argue. US dietary guidelines suggest that only up to 35% of daily calories should come from fat.

Researchers are now calling on the American federal government to remove these restrictions on total fat intake. Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and epidemiologist atTufts University and the editorial’s first author, said:

“Placing limits on total fat intake has no basis in science and leads to all sorts of wrong industry and consumer decisions.

Modern evidence clearly shows that eating more foods rich in healthy fats like nuts, vegetable oils, and fish have protective effects, particularly for cardiovascular disease.

Other fat-rich foods, like whole milk and cheese, appear pretty neutral; while many low-fat foods, like low-fat deli meats, fat-free salad dressing, and baked potato chips, are no better and often even worse than full-fat alternatives.

It’s the food that matters, not its fat content.”

To prevent obesity it is better to adopt a healthier food-based dietary pattern with less meat, sugars, and refined grains and more whole grains, nuts, vegetables, fruits, seafood and beans.

Dr David Ludwig, a specialist in Endocrinology at Boston Children’s Hospital, said:

 “When U.S. guidelines began recommending low-fat diets in 1980, people responded by turning to low-fat or non-fat products, away from healthy high-fat foods and toward refined grains and added sugars.

A growing body of research shows that refined carbohydrates increase metabolic dysfunction and obesity.

Yet, foods rich in added sugars, starches and refined grains like white bread, white rice, chips, crackers and bakery desserts still account for most of the calories people eat.

Lifting the restriction on total fat would clear the way for restaurants and industry to reformulate products containing more healthful fats and fewer refined grains and added sugars.”

Mozaffarian and Ludwig call on a wide range of other government agencies and programs to make changes.

One extreme example of poor guidelines is contained in the National School Lunch program. The program allows sugar-sweetened non-fat milk on cafeteria menus whereas it bans whole milk. The focus on a low-fat diet is also strongly recommended by the FDA which regulates health claims and food package labelling.

Another example is the cautious attitude towards fat of the National Institutes of Health. It classifies fat-free creamy salad dressing and trimmed beef and pork as foods to “eat almost any time”.

Mozaffarian said:

“From agriculture to food producers to school cafeterias to restaurants, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans serve as a beacon for countless dietary choices in the public and private sector.

With obesity and chronic disease impacting public health so deeply, we can’t miss this critical opportunity to improve the food supply.”

The study was published in the journal JAMA (Mozaffarian & Ludwig, 2015)

prawn salad with radish and mint

Prawn Salad with Radish, Watercress, Mint and Feta

This is a great summer salad that is quick and easy, low calorie, low carb and super healthy.

Prawns are high in protein and very low in fat. Plus, fennel freshens your breath, soothes coughs, and can even slim and trim your waistline. Detox never tasted so delicious!

Prawn Salad with Radish, Watercress, Mint and Feta

Serves 4

Ingredients
  • 3/4 pound prawns, peeled and de-veined (about 20)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 1 small bunch watercress, tough stems discarded
  • 1 small fennel bulb, halved, cored, and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 5 thinly sliced radishes
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)

1. Season prawns with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; add prawns and fennel seeds to pan. Cook until prawns are opaque, turning often (about 3 minutes). Remove pan from heat; toss  with 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

2. In a large bowl, combine watercress, fennel, radishes, remaining olive oil, and remaining lemon juice, tossing well.

3. Divide salad among 4 plates; top each evenly with shrimp, mint, and cheese.

Nutritional Information
Calories per serving: 188
Fat per serving: 11g
Saturated fat per serving: 3g
Monounsaturated fat per serving: 6g
Polyunsaturated fat per serving: 1g
Protein per serving: 17g
Carbohydrates per serving: 7g
Fiber per serving: 2g
Cholesterol per serving: 139mg
Iron per serving: 3mg
Sodium per serving: 416mg
Calcium per serving: 166mg
good nutrition advice

Mediterranean Diet Cuts Heart Disease Risk in Half

Longest study yet of how the Mediterranean diet affects the risk of heart disease.
People who follow a Mediterranean diet are 47% less likely to develop heart disease over a 10-year period, a new study finds.

Although there is no set Mediterranean diet, it usually includes plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, olive oil, beans and even a little red wine.

The Mediterranean diet has already been linked to a whole range of healthy outcomes, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol, weight loss and lower risk of diabetes.

Mediterranean Diet Cuts Heart Disease Risk

The Greek study is the first follow heart disease risk for this type of diet over 10 years. Ekavi Georgousopoulou, one of the study’s authors, said:

“Our study shows that the Mediterranean diet is a beneficial intervention for all types of people–in both genders, in all age groups, and in both healthy people and those with health conditions,

It also reveals that the Mediterranean diet has direct benefits for heart health, in addition to its indirect benefits in managing diabetes, hypertension and inflammation.”

Benefits of a Mediterranean diet

The study followed 2,500 Greek adults aged between 18 and 89 between 2001 and 2012. Everyone was asked to record their dietary and lifestyle habits at the start of the study, five years in, and at the end.

In the 10 years of the study, 20% of men and 12% of women developed or died from heart disease. Heart disease includes things like strokes, heart attacks and other related diseases.

The researchers then graded people’s diets, depending on how truly ‘Mediterranean’ they were.

They found that people in the top third, who followed the Mediterranean diet relatively closely, had a 47% reduced risk of heart disease in comparison to the bottom third.

The researchers accounted for many other factors which might have been influential, like smoking, body mass index, family history and so on.

Although Greece could hardly be a more Mediterranean country, its people have shifted towards a more Western diet in the last forty years.

Georgousopoulou said:

“Because the Mediterranean diet is based on food groups that are quite common or easy to find, people around the world could easily adopt this dietary pattern and help protect themselves against heart disease with very little cost,”

Georgousopoulou conducted the study with Professor Demosthenes B. Panagiotakos of Harokopio University. It was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego.

Unlikely diet trick

Most Unlikely Weight Loss Trick Revealed by Psych Experiment

This has to be one of the most counter-intuitive, and most unlikely weight loss trick, or dieting tip ever.

Apparently, just looking at endless pictures of foods can make them less enjoyable to eat, a recent study has found. While a few photos might enhance the appetite, contrary to what you’d expect, people are actually put off the taste by looking at loads of pictures of food.

Professor Ryan Elder, who led the study, which is published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, said:

“In a way, you’re becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food.

It’s sensory boredom — you’ve kind of moved on. You don’t want that taste experience any more.”

What’s happening is that each time you look at another photograph of some food, you get less pleasure from it.

Like the first taste of chocolate mousse giving you a frisson, the first photograph whets your appetite.

But each subsequent picture — like each subsequent mouthful of mousse — is less and less exciting, until you get sick of it.

The Instagram diet

In the studies themselves, hundreds of people looked at and rated pictures of food (Larson et al., 2013).

One experiment had half the participants looking at pictures of salty foods like French fries and pretzels, while the other half looked at sweet foods like ice cream and chocolate.

Afterwards, they rated their pleasure from eating both salty and sweet foods.

People who’d been looking at salty foods gave lower pleasure ratings to the salty foods and people who’d been looking at sweet pictures gave lower ratings to the sweet foods.

The study found that the more pictures they looked at, the less pleasure people got from related foods.

Professor Elder explained:

“You do have to look at a decent number of pictures to get these effects.

It’s not like if you look at something two or three times you’ll get that satiated effect.

That’s good news for food-photo enthusiasts, because, let’s be honest, showing everyone the awesome food you’re eating really is cool.”

For those trying to enhance their pleasure, rather than reduce it, co-author, Jeff Larson, had this advice:

“If you want to enjoy your food consumption experience, avoid looking at too many pictures of food.

Even I felt a little sick to my stomach during the study after looking at all the sweet pictures we had.”


 

stop Chocolate and food cravings

Stop Food Cravings In 15 Minutes With This Easy Trick

Stop food cravings and cut chocolate consumption in half by doing this.

A 15-minute walk is enough to stop food cravings brought on by stressful situations, a new study finds. The research should help the 97% of women and 68% of men who suffer from food cravings.

The study chimes with previous research finding that a 15-minutes walk can stop food cravings for chocolate by half. Professor Adrian Taylor, who led that research said:

“We know that snacking on high calorie foods, like chocolate, at work can become a mindless habit and can lead to weight gain over time.

We often feel that these snacks give us an energy boost, or help us deal with the stress of our jobs, including boredom.

People often find it difficult to cut down on their daily treats but this study shows that by taking a short walk, they are able to regulate their intake by half.”

Stop food cravings

The study involved 47 overweight people with an average age of 28. All regularly ate chocolate or high calories snacks. In the three days before the study, the participants were asked not to snack on any of their usual comfort foods.

The idea being that by the time of the study, they would be really craving a snack. In the lab, half the participants spent 15 minutes on a treadmill, while the other half had sat quietly.

They then were given a difficult psychological test that made them stressed. This was to cue up their food cravings. They were then given sugary snacks to unwrap, but only ‘handle’.

The results showed that those who’d been on the treadmill had much lower food cravings than those who sat quietly. Exercisers also showed lower physiological arousal to handling the sugary snacks.

The authors concluded:

“Short bouts of physical activity may reduce the craving for sugary snacks in overweight people.

When snacking has become habitual and poorly regulated by overweight people, the promotion of short bouts of physical activity could be valuable for reducing the urge to consume at times when the person may be particularly vulnerable, such as during stress and when snack foods are available.”

The research is published in the journal PLoS ONE (Ledochowski et al., 2015)

 

 

 

 

Comfort food

Diet Tip: The Unexpected Effect of Comfort Food and Bad Moods

81% of people believe comfort foods improve a low mood, but are they correct? The truth about comfort food and bad moods.

Contrary to what most people believe, comfort food does not improve a low mood, a new study finds.

The research, published in the journal Health Psychology, found that people who ate nothing recovered from a bad mood just as quickly as those who ate their preferred comfort food (Wagner et al., 2014).

The results come from a study in which people were asked to list the type of foods they ate to recover from a bad mood — chocolate was the most popular. They then watched an 18-minute video that was guaranteed to make them anxious, afraid and depressed.

Comfort Food and Bad Moods

After watching the depressing video, (across three different studies) people were given either:

  1. Their preferred comfort food.
  2. A neutral food (a granola bar).
  3. No food.

Then their mood was measured. Here is how the researchers describe their results, which were pretty clear-cut:

“Comfort foods led to significant improvements in mood, but no more than other foods or no food.

Although people believe that comfort foods provide them with mood benefits, comfort foods do not provide comfort beyond that of other foods (or no food).”

The fact that all groups felt better after a time is likely due to the psychological immune system, our natural ability to recover from bad moods.

So, people were giving the credit to the comfort food for something their minds were doing automatically.

The researchers conclude:

“We found no justification for people to choose comfort foods when they are distressed.

Removing an excuse for eating a high-calorie or high-fat food may help people develop and maintain healthier eating habits, and may lead them to focus on other, food-free methods of improving their mood.

You don’t need comfort food to feel better; the mind will do the trick all on its own if you give it time.”


 

Blackcurrant brain food

The Latest Miracle Brain Food Comes From New Zealand

The effects of new super miracle brain food on learning, memory, attention and mental fatigue.

New Zealand blackcurrants can keep people mentally young and agile, a new study finds. The blackcurrants were found to improve people’s mood, attention and accuracy.

They may also be useful for those with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s. Dr. Arjan Scheepens, the Plant & Food Research scientist who led the study, said:

“This study is the first to look at the effects of berry consumption on the cognitive performance of healthy young adults.

Our previous research has suggested that compounds found in certain berryfruit may act like monoamine oxidase inhibitors, similar to a class of pharmaceuticals commonly used in the treatment of both mood disorders and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease.

This research has shown that New Zealand-grown blackcurrants not only increase mental performance, but also reduce the activity of monoamine oxidases.”

The research examined a specific cultivar of blackcurrants called ‘Blackadder’. Participants drank 250ml of the drink before performing a series of cognitive tests. Compared to a placebo, the New Zealand blackcurrants boosted mood and reduced mental fatigue.

In addition blood tests showed that the activity of key enzymes linked to depression was reduced. Professor Roger Hurst of the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research, said:

“One of the key trends in the food industry is the development of ingredients and foods that have beneficial effects on human health.

Understanding what, and how, foods affect mental performance could lead to the development of new foods designed for populations or situations where mental performance or mental decline is a factor, such as older people or those suffering from stress, anxiety or other mood disorders.

This research shows how New Zealand blackcurrants can potentially add value, both for the food industry and for people looking for foods that naturally support their own health aspirations.”

The research was published in the Journal of Functional Foods (Watson et al., 2015).

 

eat this for breakfast

Eating This For Breakfast Can Reduce Food Cravings Later in The Day

What you should eat for the ‘most important meal of the day’ to reduce food cravings.

New research shows that eating a good breakfast — particularly one rich in protein — boosts a critical neurotransmitter, which may reduce food cravings later in the day.

The research comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that many teens skip breakfast and adolescent obesity has quadrupled in the last 30 years.

Dr. Heather Leidy, an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology who led the study, said:

“Our research showed that people experience a dramatic decline in cravings for sweet foods when they eat breakfast.

However, breakfasts that are high in protein also reduced cravings for savory — or high-fat — foods.

On the other hand, if breakfast is skipped, these cravings continue to rise throughout the day.”

The study looked at how different breakfasts affected the levels of the critical neurotransmitter, dopamine (Hoertel et al., 2014).

Dopamine is involved in how we process rewards, including cravings for food. When you eat, a burst of dopamine is initiated, which gives you the feelings of reward.

Dr. Leidy explained how this relates to obesity:

“Dopamine levels are blunted in individuals who are overweight or obese, which means that it takes much more stimulation — or food — to elicit feelings of reward; we saw similar responses within breakfast-skippers.

To counteract the tendencies to overeat and to prevent weight gain that occurs as a result of overeating, we tried to identify dietary behaviors that provide these feelings of reward while reducing cravings for high-fat foods.

Eating breakfast, particularly a breakfast high in protein, seems to do that.”

This is particularly important, Dr. Leidy, given the rising levels of obesity:

“In the U.S., people are skipping breakfast more frequently, which is associated with food cravings, overeating and obesity.

“It used to be that nearly 100 percent of American adults, kids and teens were eating breakfast, but over the last 50 years, we have seen a decrease in eating frequency and an increase in obesity.”

 

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