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Fighting Salt and Sugar Cravings, With Spicy Food

(CNN) There’s no magic pill that will cure you of your cravings. But there is something that may help the effort, and it’s all-natural.

Research has shown that simply spicing up your diet may help you consume less salt and possibly less sugar, while potentially improving your health even beyond the reduction of salt and sugar.

There is more consistent evidence that spicy food helps curb salt cravings than sugar.

In a study involving more than 600 people from China whose brains were analyzed with PET/CT scans, researchers found that regions stimulated by intake of both salty and spicy foods overlapped. Because of similar activities taking place in this shared space (think of the overlapping parts of a Venn diagram), consuming spicy foods effectively enhanced one’s sensitivity to salt, thereby helping people crave and consume less salt.

“We think that spicy food can trick our brain when tasting salty food. It makes us taste the same (level of) saltiness even when a reduced amount of salt is actually consumed,” said study author Dr. Zhiming Zhu, professor and director of the Department of Hypertension and Endocrinology at the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China.

In fact, researchers found that people who regularly enjoy spicy foods consumed 2.5 grams less salt in a day (that’s 1,000 fewer milligrams of sodium) compared with those who typically steer clear of spice. They also had lower blood pressure.

It remains to be seen whether the findings can be replicated in other populations outside China, said Richard David Wainford, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the Boston University School of Medicine, in an accompanying editorial. Still, “a lifestyle intervention that adds taste to the diet, in the form of extra spice and flavor, versus reduction of the pleasure given by the salt we add to our food, may have more success as a public health strategy to promote population-level dietary salt reduction,” he added.

Spice may have the potential to curb sugar cravings too, though the evidence is mixed. In one study involving 40 students from Denmark, when chili pepper was added to sweet, sour and bitter meals, participants experienced a greater desire to eat sweet foods compared with meals without chili added.

In another study, also from Denmark, people experienced a decreased desire for salty and spicy foods when they ate tomato soup with cayenne pepper compared with eating the soup without pepper. But their desire for sweet and fatty foods significantly increased when they consumed the spicy soup.

No pain, no weight gain?

Capsaicin is the compound in chili peppers that is responsible for the burning sensation we experience when eating them. The compound has the ability to suppress sweet taste, which could also explain some findings.

But while some may enjoy the heat that capsaicin produces, it may also come with an unintended consequence.

“Capsaicin helps fight pain. Most of the time, you hear about this as a topical cream, but eating chili peppers also has benefits. It may be that when the pain goes away, you’re stimulated to consume more sweet foods,” said Mary-Jon Ludy, an associate professor of clinical nutrition at Bowling Green State University.

In a meta-analysis, involving more than 70 studies, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the McCormick Science Institute, researchers state that the balance of the literature suggests the capsaicin suppresses appetite, though the magnitude of the effects is small. “Purposeful inclusion of these compounds in the diet may aid weight management, albeit modestly,” the study stated.

(Note that the National Institutes of Health is a federal government agency, and the McCormick Science Institute is an independent research organization that is owned and funded by spice product manufacturer McCormick & Co. Inc. The company said it does not influence the science institute’s research priorities.)

The meta-analysis included the Danish study that found increased sugar cravings among those who consumed spicy meals. But it also included a study that found adding spice can actually curb sugar cravings. In that study, when people added half a teaspoon of red pepper to their lunch, they had a decreased desire to eat sugary, fatty and salty foods, and ate about 70 fewer calories at their next meal. The effects were seen only among those who didn’t regularly consume red pepper.

“I think that there’s something in the novelty of the stimulus that would allow you to eat less,” said Ludy, who authored the study and the meta-analysis. “In terms of the work with red pepper, I think that that’s an important piece of the puzzle. If you are adding a spicy meal every couple of weeks, it might be enough to have an effect … but if you have it every day, the effect goes away, because you get used to it.”

A little dash will do ya

To get started with spice, Ludy recommends sprinkling red pepper flakes into eggs in the morning. You can also use spice when making a rub for meat or when seasoning vegetables, soups, pasta or curry dishes.

She also recommends adding red pepper flakes to a meal in anticipation of a tempting dessert. “It may give you that extra piece of security,” she said. Though not specific to sweet taste, cinnamon, ginger and saffron are other pungent spices with appetite suppressive effects, according to Ludy.

However you choose to use spice, it’s wise to start slowly. “Remember that a tiny bit of spice can go a long way!” Ludy said. If the heat is an issue, you can calm your taste buds by pairing hot spices with healthy fats, such as avocados and nuts, according to Ludy. “They help break down the chemical that causes the burn.”

If you’re new to spicy peppers, she recommends starting with milder varieties, such as jalapeno or serrano, which cause less burn than cayenne or habanero. “These peppers still contain some capsaicin but not as much. Although I haven’t researched it directly, my guess is that there would still be appetite effects (perhaps of a lesser magnitude) … but if you can’t tolerate higher quantities of spice, something is better than nothing, right?”

By Lisa Drayer, CNN   Fri November 17, 2017
 

Lisa Drayer is a nutritionist, an author and a CNN health and nutrition contributor.

 
source: www.cnn.com
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Oil Of Oregano Benefits: 11 Things To Know About Oregano Oil

Most of us would take just about anything if we thought it might keep us healthy during cold and flu season. It turns out that there’s some evidence to suggest that an herb you likely have in your kitchen might be able to help stave off sickness this winter.

Some natural health enthusiasts promote oregano oil as a means to fight cold and flus, keep your digestive tract healthy, and soothe problem skin. But is there any science behind the hype? Here are the 11 things you should know about oregano oil this winter.

Oregano Oil Facts

Yes, it’s from the herb: Oregano oil is, as the name implies, oil from the oregano herb that is extracted by steam distillation. Or at least from an oregano herb — there are more than 40 varieties of the plant. According to Alive, the oil from Oreganum vulgare is believed to hold the most therapeutic benefit.

Stuffed up? You may find some relief by adding a couple drops of oregano oil to a diffuser or vapourizer and inhaling for a few minutes. Drinking a few drops of oil in juice or water may also provide some relief from a sore throat.

It’s also used for GI problems: Because there’s some evidence that oil of oregano has anti-fungal or antiviral properties, it’s thought to be helpful for some gastrointestinal issues. One small study showed that treatment with oregano oil may be useful for parasite infections, but further study is needed.

It could have anti-fungal properties: Some studies have shown that in lab cultures, oregano oil puts up a strong fight against Candida albicans, the bacteria that causes the fungal infection candida. Other research found it may have a similar effect against the mold fungis Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus niger. However, similar studies haven’t yet been done in human subjects.

You can use it on your skin: It’s thought that oregano oil is helpful for skin conditions like cold sores, muscle aches, nail fungus, joint pain, and dandruff. Try diluting it with a carrier oil like jojoba, sweet almond, or grapeseed, at 10 to 12 drops oregano oil per ounce of carrier oil. However, don’t use oregano oil on broken or sensitive skin, as it can be irritating. There is some anecdotal evidence suggestions that it may be effective for treatment of psoriasis, an inflammatory skin condition, but no published research yet.

It’s a natural insect repellent: Oil of oregano contains many compounds, and one of them is carvacrol — a natural insect repellent. This compound is also found in plants like mint and thyme. Try putting a few drops of oil on outdoor furniture — test first on an inconspicuous area to make sure it doesn’t stain — or apply a dilution of it to unbroken skin when heading outdoors.

It may help in the fight against antibiotic resistance: Some people believe that we can stave off antibiotic resistance by turning to natural solutions like oregano oil more often. One lab test in 2001 found that oregano oil was effective in killing staphylococcus bacteria, and another published laboratory study out of the UK found that it showed effectiveness against 25 different bacteria.

It tastes terrible: Don’t expect that you’ll enjoy taking oregano oil, even if you love Greek food. It has a much more potent taste in oil form, so be prepared!

Be careful: Because oregano oil in its pure form is so strong, it should only be used when diluted; try a ratio of one part oregano oil to three parts carrier oil, such as olive oil. Undiluted oregano oil can be irritating to the skin and mucous membranes. It is also possible to purchase diluted oregano oil.

It’s meant for short-term use: In Alive, clinical herbalist Michelle Lynde recommends using oregano oil for acute conditions, by taking four to six drops at a time for seven to ten days.

It’s not for everyone: The therapeutic use of oregano oil should be avoided in infants and children, and pregnant or nursing women. It also should be avoided by people with high blood pressure or a heart condition. It’s always a good idea to talk to your preferred medical professional before starting a new wellness routine, and to disclose your use of alternative therapies in case of counter-indications with other medications or treatments.

 11/14/2013   Terri Coles   The Huffington Post Canada
 


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Owning A Dog Is Good For Your Heart — Study Says What We All Knew

It seems unconditional love from a fluffy, drooling canine is one key to a healthier life — as many people already expected.

A study of more than 3.4-million people revealed that having a dog in the house is linked to living a longer life. The research, published in Scientific Reports by Uppsala University in Sweden, reviewed a national registry of people aged 40 to 80 for up to 12 years. Just over 13 per cent were dog owners.

By evaluating health records, it found that registered dog owners had a lower risk of having heart attacks and other life-threatening conditions. It said owning a dog cuts down the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 36 per cent for people that live alone.

There is a slightly lower benefit to owning a canine for those who don’t live alone — the risk was cut by only 15 per cent. Researchers even considered other factors such as smoking and body weight to make sure the results were as accurate as possible.

While the study stops short of determining a direct “causal effect” between dog ownership and lower heart disease, it indicates that dog owners may have better health because they stay active by walking their pets, even in bad weather.

A new study says owning a dog can lower chances of developing heart problems.

It adds that having a fluffy friend could also help ease feelings of isolation, depression and stress.

“Dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in single households and with a reduced risk of cardiovascular and all-cause death in the general population,” the study concludes.

And it’s just one of many studies that have come to a similar conclusion about the health benefits of owning a dog.

Earlier this year, a study found that seniors who own a dog spend an average of 22 more minutes per day staying active and take an additional 2,760 steps per day.

Dogs have also been found to improve mental health in children, and help soothe stress for travellers nervous about their flight and students during exams.

— With files from Global News reporter Tania Kohut

By Maham Abedi   National Online Journalist, Breaking News    November 17, 2017
source: Global News


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Drinking Coffee Linked To Lower Risk Of Heart Failure And Stroke

U.S. research has suggested yet another health benefit of drinking coffee, finding that it may decrease the risk of developing heart failure or having a stroke.

Previous research has already suggested that drinking coffee may also reduce the risk of certain cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, and even reduce the risk of mortality.

For the new study, the team of researchers gathered data from the long-running Framingham Heart Study, which includes information about what people eat and their cardiovascular health, to look at a possible link between the popular drink and the risk of heart failure and stroke.

They used machine learning to analyze the data, which works by finding associations within it, similar to the way that online shopping sites can use your shopping history to predict which other products you may also like.

The preliminary research showed that compared with non-coffee drinkers, drinking coffee was associated with a 7 per cent lower risk of developing heart disease and an 8 per cent lower risk of having a stroke with every additional cup of coffee consumed per week.

New research adds to the growing body of evidence that
drinking coffee may have numerous health benefits

The team then checked the validity of the results from the machine learning analysis by using traditional analysis in two studies with similar sets of data, the Cardiovascular Heart Study and the Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities Study.

The results backed up what the machine learning analysis had found, with the association between drinking coffee and a decreased risk of heart failure and stroke consistently noted in all three studies.

However, although this type of study design shows an observed association, the researchers did point out that it does not prove cause and effect.

While many of the risk factors for heart failure and stroke are well known, the researchers believe it is likely that there are as-yet unidentified risk factors. One potential risk factor identified by machine-learning analysis was red meat consumption, however further research on how red meat consumption may affect the risk of heart failure or stroke is needed.

The American Heart Association suggests limiting red meat, which is high in saturated fat, and following a healthy diet which emphasizes fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry and fish.

The findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017, taking place November 11 to 15.

Relaxnews   Published Wednesday, November 15, 2017


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Why Adults Should Play, Too

(CNN)When’s the last time you did something that was so engaging, so much fun, you lost track of time?

For some, it’s belting out a karaoke tune. For others, it’s exploring a new city or playing kickball.
That’s what mortgage banker Sue Hamilton does for fun.

“It brings you back to a little bit of your childhood,” the 41-year-old said.

Hamilton plays every week with a team at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park.

“We all remember playing kickball from PE when we were in grade school. You can get hit by the ball without getting hurt, which I think is probably a good thing for most of us,” said Hamilton, whose husband is also on a kickball team.

“I think most people go to work, and maybe there’s not as much silliness or playfulness in their day … and you do that with others, which is a plus for me – that social component,” she said.

‘Play is essential to our health’

So, what exactly is play?

In addition to being the “action of a game,” play is defined as “recreational activity; especially: the spontaneous activity of children,” as well as “the absence of serious or harmful intent” and “a move or series of moves calculated to arouse friendly feelings.”

“It’s such a big thing that people want to hold it down to make it something small. It’s not small. It’s so important,” said Dr. Bowen White, physician and founding member of the National Institute for Play, a nonprofit that supports research into the power of play.

“Play is so deeply ingrained in terms of our own evolutionary drive to survive, he said. “Play helps us connect with other people because we are open in a way that allows them to feel, maybe, this is a safe person to be with and maybe even fun to be around.”

It’s much more than a game, White said. And for adults, it’s not necessarily just intimate-partner time.

It’s a way of life, he said, that allows you to let your guard down, not be so serious and, as a result, connect better with others.

“We all come into the world knowing how to play,” White said, adding that as adults, we shouldn’t feel like we have to grow out of it.

“Play is essential to our health,” he said. “If you want to have a fun life, you can’t have a fun life without play.”

Play should feel good, he said, adding that it has the opposite effect on the body as stress. Play often leads to laughter, which has been linked to decreased stress and inflammation and may improve vascular health.

“Your blood pressure goes down,” he said. “You release dopamine.”

People who play at work solve problems creatively

Play also makes you more productive, White said.

“What you get from the culture is ‘work’s important,’ ‘more is better,’ ” said White, who consults with companies on creating healthy work environments.

Adults, instead, should “figure out how to have more fun doing your work,” he said.

People tend to perform better professionally when they’re in a state of play, White said, noting that “playing” with problems at work sparks creativity.

Many companies are well aware of the power of fun to foster innovation. Google helped blaze the trail years ago when it set up play stations with ping pong, billiards and foosball tables all over its main campus. The company offered free snacks and exercise classes, and it let hundreds of software engineers design their own desks or work stations.

Google encouraged employees to play and collaborate, which it said helped with team-building and cooperation.

Working with professional sports teams, White has taught athletes to “play easy,” rather than “playing hard,” by easing up on a grip or holding their bodies more loosely.

“The best performances occur when they’re playing easy,” White said.

It’s a metaphor, he said, for anyone trying to accomplish a goal: Loosen up a little, have fun, and you’ll see progress.

“If you can figure out how to do that, you’re going to be a lot happier and be more fun to work with,” White said. “You’ll be happier parents, a better spouse, a better partner.”

 

The science behind play

The evolutionary importance of play can be demonstrated in the brains and behaviors of rats and primates, said Dr. Sergio Pellis, neuroscientist at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada.
In his experiments, he denied rats the opportunity to engage in play by fighting and wrestling.
Those rats developed deficiencies in their brains’ pre-frontal cortex. This is the area responsible for executive functions, such as making judgment calls and emotional regulation.

“If you’re an adult male rat put in another cage of a rat you don’t know, the resident rat will see you as an intruder and beat you up,” Pellis said.

If you’re a normal rat, you’ll find any place to hide – a platform, perhaps – and stay there, he said.

“If you’re a play-deficient rat, you’ll get beaten up and shortly thereafter move again and attract even more attention,” he said. “You’re not figuring out the appropriate thing to do in this situation.”

Similar research with monkeys led to the same results, said Pellis, co-author of “The Playful Brain: Venturing to the Limits of Neuroscience.”

While this type of experiment cannot be replicated in juvenile humans for ethical reasons, social science studies have shown kids who engage in more play end up with higher social skills a few years down the line, Pellis said, predicting more research in the next decade on adult human brains at play.

Kickball players make friends on the field

For 30-year-old kickball player Wesley Brown, an urban planner in Atlanta, the opportunity to take the field is truly a “social lubricant,” a phrase White uses to describe play.

“I’ve made friends through kickball,” Brown said. “There’s no way that I would’ve ever met any of these folks before: very, very different backgrounds, very different professions.

“Through playing and having fun together, we organize different activities during the week,” he said. “We have a baby shower that we planned. We have a wedding shower. We’re a very close-knit team.”

“It’s an easier way to create conversation because there is a definitive topic, whereas, maybe, meeting somebody somewhere else at a bar or something, it’s not always easy to have a shared conversation,” she said.

And then there’s the fun of just letting go.

“I feel like I’m a kid most days, so, for me, this is just another aspect of that,” Hamilton said. “I like to laugh a lot. I like to run around and be silly.”

Hamilton loves “being able to have that recess time that we did when we were younger and you can run around the field and be free of your daily responsibilities for at least an hour,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about work. You’re not thinking about whatever personal things might be going on in your life.”

For White, play is a way of being in the world – being more “playful.”

“The person at the grocery store that’s in line, can you goof with them? Or are you just in a hurry: ‘Oh, they’ve got 14 items’; you counted them, and it’s 12 or less. ‘I can’t believe that!!’ How does that feel being in that psychological space?”

Life, he said, is much easier with a playful approach.

By Amy Chillag, CNN Special Projects     Thu November 2, 2017
 
source: www.cnn.com


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How To Make Your Relationship Stronger

Get to know the power of extrospection.

In psychology, introspection has a long history as a key to understanding how the mind works. It was the method advocated by German physiologist Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) who is considered to have founded the first experimental psychology lab. Wundt believed that by gaining insight into his own thought processes, he could gain understanding of the structures that make up our mind. In his Leipzig lab, founded in 1872, he advocated the use of introspection even as he designed what we now regard as primitive experimental tools to understand perception.

We now think of introspection, a fundamental process used in mindfulness, more generally as “thinking to yourself.” According to mindfulness advocates, when you think to yourself, you become not only more self-aware, but more aware of your environment.

I’ve often wondered if there is a parallel process, what we might call extrospection, that occurs when you articulate your innermost thoughts to others. Like oversharing, or too much information (TMI), perhaps you blab at length about what’s going on inside your mind. Extrospection could make you seem more approachable, but it can also get you into trouble. If your words reveal your inner state when that inner state is angry or critical of others, you’re better off keeping your thoughts to yourself until the situation is appropriate.

Introspection has social aspects that often do concern the behavior and possible feelings of other people. According to the notion of Theory of Mind, we are constantly formulating propositions about the thoughts and motivations of people in our lives. We can use introspection to gain data to feed those propositions, as we try to understand other people by measuring our own reactions. For example, if you’re watching a news story in a public place, such as a waiting room covering a violent murder, you most likely are feeling fearful and sad. Given the content of that news story, by defining your own feelings, you are likely to assume other people are experiencing similarly negative emotions.

Wundt believed that introspection could provide the data needed to understand the structures of the mind, but he didn’t have many tools to use to peer directly into those structures. Nearly 150 years later, we still can’t observe exactly what neurons are doing in the brain, but we can see at a more general level which brain structures become activated under particular experimental instructions.

Ute Kreplin and Stephen Fairclough (2015), of Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom, designed an intriguing experiment to examine introspection as a tool to understand the feelings of others. They measured the activity of regions of the brain thought to be involved in Theory of Mind, which is when we use our own thoughts to understand those of others. Their young adult participants were exposed to two types of artistic images designed to evoke positive and negative emotions. In the “self” condition, participants were instructed to think about how the image makes “you” feel, whether, sad, happy, or angry. In the “other” condition, they were asked to think about how the artist felt while painting the picture, and what type of person the artist was—happy, angry, or sad.

The paintings designed to evoke positive emotions were pleasant and attractive, such as a still life of fruit. The negative paintings were ugly or disgusting. The example the authors show in the article, for example, was of a pair of androids apparently committing sodomy on some kind of animal, something I’m pretty sure anyone would see as repulsive.

While viewing these images, participants were hooked up to a brain scanning machine that measured blood flow through the regions of the brain involved in Theory of Mind activity. The researchers expected greater activation of these regions during the “self” condition, but instead found that the “other” condition evoked greater neural activation. However, the elements of the painting turned out to play a critical role in determining which brain areas rose to the occasion. It was while viewing the negatively-valenced paintings that participants became more aroused under the “other” condition instruction. When viewing the positive paintings, their brains were more likely to become activated in the “self” condition.

The upshot of the study is that we seem to become more mentally and emotionally engaged when we imagine others to be sad or angry. This study suggests that our empathy is more engaged when others are in pain. We use our mental energies to understand how they’re feeling, putting aside our own possible distress or anxiety. Seeing pleasant images leads us to engage in more introspection regarding our own emotional state.

The findings also suggest why we are so drawn to beautiful images in art—and why we find them soothing. When you look at Van Gogh’s sunflowers or Monet’s water lilies, do you feel inwardly happy and relaxed? This study suggests that art can help you engage in self-soothing if you allow yourself to experience those positive emotions.

Fulfillment in our relationships may depend heavily on our ability to understand how others are feeling. As stated by the authors, the Theory of Mind perspective proposes that “empathy and perspective-switching is fundamental to one’s ability to navigate the social world” (p. 39). Examining your own reactions when the person you love is feeling upset or angry may provide you with the mental tools you need to be a better listener, and partner.

References


Kreplin, U., & Fairclough, S. H. (2015). Effects of self-directed and other-directed introspection and emotional valence on activation of the rostral prefrontal cortex during aesthetic experience. Neuropsychologia, 7138-45. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.03.013

Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.    Fulfillment at Any Age    Jun 18, 2016
 


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Fun Fact Friday

  • The type of music you listen to can change the way you think.

  • It’s possible for a male to have an erection for up to 3.5 hours while sleeping.

  • An Indian airline only hires female flight attendants because they weigh less, saving up to $500,000 a year in fuel.

  • Graham crackers were invented to stop kids from masturbating.

 

Happy Friday!
source: faccccct