Good Nutrition Advice

For a healthy body and mind

Tag: obesity

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.

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.”


Breakfast Cereals Contain More Sugar than Doughnuts

Rice Krispies

Rice Krispies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A survey carried out by has found some cereals have a higher sugar content than many desserts, doughnuts and ice cream.

The main culprits were Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and Coco Pops along with Weetabix Minis Chocolate Crisp. Shreddies and Special K had more than some cakes.

This highlights the important of reading food labels before buying products that are claiming to the be healthy. Sugar is one of the major causes behind the current obesity crisis.

Sugar is a ‘fast releasing’ carbohydrate that encourages weight gain. It releases insulin into the body quickly and if this is not used up it will be stored as fat. also warned salt levels in these foods were higher than expected.

Sugar content of some popular food items

  • Kellogg’s Coco Pops – 14.8g (per 40g serving)
  • Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cornflakes – 13.6g
  • Kellogg’s Coco Rocks – 12.8g
  • Weetabix Minis Chocolate Crisp – 11.3g
  • Vienetta ice cream cake 11g per slice
  • Scoop of vanilla ice cream – 10g
  • Nestle Cheerios – 8.6g
  • Jam doughnut – 8.6g
  • Kellogg’s Special K – 6.8g
  • Nestle Shreddies – 6.2g
  • Nestle Shreddies – 6.2g
  • McVities chocolate cake – 5.4g per slice
  • Kellogg’s Rice Krispies – 4g
  • Kellogg’s Cornflakes – 3.2g

Do you have a health challenge that you’d like to discuss with me? I offer online Naturopathic and Nutrition Consultations. Fill out my forms here to book your personal consultation with me.

Or if you don’t have any particular health issues, perhaps you’d prefer one of my off-the-shelf  Health Programmes? Choose from Colon Cleanse, Detox Programme, Ultimate Cleanse or my comprehensive Supplement Programme. All packages include a full consultation.

Thank you for reading!


Nutrition Memory Passed Down

Nutrition memory passed down

Nutrition memory passed down

The diet a pregnant woman eats can affect not only her child’s health, but her grandchild’s as well. 

A ‘memory’ of nutrition is passed down between generations, according to research published in the Journal Science.

In particular, researchers have found that actually under-eating can cause a heightened risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity for their descendants who could be born pre-programmed to cope with undernourishment.

They believe that this effect may explain why we now have such a type 2 diabetes epidemic on our hands.

Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith, of the department of genetics at Cambridge, said: ‘When food is scarce, children may be born ‘pre-programmed’ to cope with undernourishment. In the event of a sudden abundance in food, their bodies cannot cope and they can develop metabolic diseases such as diabetes.”

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Do you have a health challenge that you’d like to discuss with me? I offer online Naturopathic and Nutrition Consultations. Fill out my forms here to book your personal consultation with me.

Thank you!

Natural Choices

Natural CoursesIf you’re interested in Natural Health you’ll love Natural Choices. This online course in Natural Health, Nutrition, Psychology and Food Choices, will help kick start your healthy living plan.

There are 18 modules you can go through in your own time. This course is a unique and potentially life-changing learning experience giving you constant access to 100s of tips and health suggestions that you can easily incorporate in your life to make a difference!


Foods to fight inflammation

vegetablesALTHOUGH inflammation is the body’s normal response to injury, it can lead to disease if it becomes chronic. A recent report from an expert at the University of Alabama (UAB) suggests that you can fight inflammation with food.  

According to the National Council on Strength and Fitness, obesity has been found to cause inflammation, and it can lead to the development of cardiovascular and metabolic disease. Lauren Whitt, PhD, UAB Employee Wellness Director and adjunct professor of personal health adds that weight loss is also related to a reduction of inflammation, and believes  the right anti-inflammatory foods are the answer.  Her recommendations?

  • Citrus fruits – vitamin C and Vitamin E are essential antioxidants
  • Dark, leafy greens – high in Vitamin K
  • Tomatoes – the fruit’s red pigment, lycopene, is a potent antioxidant
  • Wild-caught salmon – contains a rich concentration of omega-3 fatty acids

At lunchtime, choose salad instead of sandwiches, cut down on saturated fat from processed and fast foods and have fruit for dessert or a snack instead of something sugary. Increase your intake of fish, especially oily fish.

Source. University of Alabama at Birmingham (2013, March 22). Foods can help fight inflammation. Science Daily. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from

Vitamin D and the obesity epidemic

THIS week I am going to write about the importance of vitamin D. Yes, yes, again, I know! But this time because it affects obesity.  As you are probably aware, the Western world is seeing an increase in obesity of epidemic proportion.  In May 2011 David Cameron stated that obesity already costs the NHS a staggering £4 billion a year, a figure expected to rise to £6.3 billion by 2015. However, within four years, that figure is expected to rise to £6.3 billion.

These figures include the cost of treating the spiralling number of people with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes, many cancers and osteoarthritis.  The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is around 20–80 times more likely for people who are obese compared with lean people. Coronary heart disease (which itself is slightly more common among obese people) is two to three times more common among diabetic men and five times more common among diabetic women.

Could vitamin D deficiency cause obesity?

Let’s take a look at what researchers have found about the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and obesity.  A study published in the Journal Medical Hypotheses, entitled ‘Vitamin D deficiency is the cause of common obesity’ suggests that when the body perceives a drop in vitamin D levels, it assumes that the sun (our main source of vitamin D through the action of sunlight on the skin) has gone in and winter has arrived.  To prepare the body for the scarcities of this season, it adopts a winter metabolism by storing fat and therefore increasing body size. Other physiological changes could include an increase in blood pressure and insulin resistance – both perfectly normal bodily responses to ensure protection against cold and lack, but deadly in a time of warmth and plenty.  Insulin resistance is the precursor to diabetes and a study from Drexel University found that there is an increased risk of diabetes for the vitamin D deficient obese.

Now, clearly not everyone suffers from this kind of ‘winter response’ but if you think you do, I would really recommend that you have your vitamin D levels tested.  This is a simple blood test that Dr. Ruth Hillelson can do for you.

Don’t stop for a cappuccino

Don’t stop for a cappuccino just because you went to the gym.  People tend to overestimate the amount of calories they burn during physical activity and underestimate the calories in most foods!  It can take 45 minutes to burn off a cappuccino and will undo all the good you did in the gym!


Vitamin D deficiency is the cause of common obesity. Medical Hypotheses [2009, 72(3):314-321]

Foresight: Tackling Obesities: Future Choices – Modelling Future Trends in Obesity & Their Impact on Health.

Drexel University. Increased Risk For Diabetes When Obesity And Low Vitamin D Are Present. Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 19 Jul. 2012. Web.

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