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How Fat Has Become the New Normal

Peter Nieman, a well-known pediatrician based at Calgary’s Pediatric Weight Clinic, says that more often than not, when he sits down with parents of children who are overweight or obese, they don’t even realize there’s a problem.

Then, Nieman shows them growth charts and explains the trajectory their children are on: continued weight gain resulting in a significantly increased risk for high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and many other serious conditions.

Mounting research shows the majority of parents, as well as their children, have an inaccurate perception of what constitutes obesity. Studies have shown that children that register as overweight according to medical benchmarks, rarely consider themselves as such, and are rarely considered overweight by their parents.

Why can’t we recognize the person sitting beside us at the dinner table, or looking back at us in the mirror, as overweight? The answer could lie in the fact there are more overweight adults in Canada than there are individuals considered to have a “normal” healthy weight. As it becomes more common for individuals to be overweight, our collective perception of what is “normal” weight is being skewed.

In short, fat is the new normal.

“There’s just some places where the norm is being overweight, so people just see themselves as melting in with everybody else,” Nieman said. “Everybody looks like that, so [the feeling is,] what’s the big deal?”

The number of Canadian adults who are overweight or obese remains stubbornly high, at roughly two-thirds of the population. Similar trends are found in young people: Statistics Canada reported recently that about three in 10 children and adolescents in Canada are overweight or obese, a number that has remained stagnant for a decade. The consequences of our misperceptions are steep. A study published in the British Medical Journal last week found that obese young people have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, raised cholesterol levels and thickening of heart muscles. If they remain obese into adulthood – a strong likelihood without intense intervention – they face up to a 40 per cent increased risk of experiencing a stroke or developing heart disease in the future, the study found.

fat

Katerina Maximova, assistant professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, led a 2008 study that found 23 per cent of children and adolescents in Quebec were overweight or obese, but less than 2 per cent identified themselves as carrying too much weight. Young people whose parents or peer groups were overweight were significantly more likely to report having normal weight, even if they were overweight or obese.

“This means the social norms about what constitutes a normal weight are changing to accommodate the prevailing larger sizes,” Maximova said. “That was the disturbing message from our study.”

Few parents ever recognize their child has a serious weight issue, even if he or she is obese. A study in the Canadian Family Physician Journal found 63 per cent of parents with overweight children said their child’s weight was normal; 63 per cent of parents of obese children classified them as overweight.

Nieman says more than half of the parents of overweight or obese children he sees are overweight themselves, he said. A combination of busy lifestyles, reliance on convenience foods that are high in fat and calories and too little physical activity all contribute to the issue.

But as excess weight becomes increasingly normalized, we are less likely to consider it a problem. “We no longer see the issue,” Maximova said. “We’re no longer alarmed by it.”

That’s why a number of experts in the medical community want to shift the discussion from weight to activity. Instead of telling people about the importance of losing weight, it could be much more effective to make it easier for people to get out and be physically active in their communities.

“I’m not so concerned about their body size,” said Katherine Morrison, a pediatric endocrinologist and co-director of the Metabolism and Childhood Obesity Research Program at McMaster University in Hamilton. “I’m very concerned about their health.”

Mark Tremblay, director of healthy active living and obesity research at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, said possible solutions are as simple as making neighbourhoods more walkable or using public money to create supervision in public parks, instead of building a new community centre that may not be accessible to everyone.

Doctors also have an important role to play. Too few of them speak to parents about their child’s weight or measure body-mass index and growth on a consistent basis, even though all the research points to the fact that early intervention is key to preventing a lifetime of health problems related to weight.

“If you have a problem and nobody talks about it … there’s an elephant in the room,” Nieman said. “It’s going to be more difficult to treat those children.”

CARLY WEEKS     The Globe and Mail     Sunday, Sep. 30, 2012


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High-Fat Diet May Disturb a Range of Thoughts And Feelings

Changes in bacteria in the gut are linked to critical psychological changes,
a new mouse study finds.

A high-fat diet could increase the risk of repetitive behaviours, depression and anxiety, researchers have concluded.

Dr. John Krystal, editor of journal Biological Psychiatry, where the article was published, said:

“This paper suggests that high-fat diets impair brain health, in part, by disrupting the symbiotic relationship between humans and the microorganisms that occupy our gastrointestinal tracts.”

As the authors write, this is the…

“…first definitive evidence that high-fat diet-induced changes to the gut microbiome [the community of organisms in the human gut] are sufficient to disrupt brain physiology and function in the absence of obesity.” (Annadora et al., 2015)

In the study, non-obese mice were fed a normal diet.

But they were then given the gut microbiota — the microorganisms which live in the gut — from another mouse which had been fed a high-fat diet.

These were compared with mice who were given gut microbiota from a mouse fed on a normal diet.

Fat

Treat your gut well and your brain will thank you.

Remarkable changes were seen in the non-obese mice that had been given the microbiota from the high-fat mice.

They showed signs of depression, anxiety, memory problems and repetitive behaviours.

There were also signs of brain inflammation.

High-fat diets have long been known to increase the risk of physical problems like stroke and heart disease.

This study is part of a growing body of research showing the link between brain and gut.

For example, the first ever human study of its kind recently found that consuming a prebiotic bacteria can have an anti-anxiety effect.

The authors conclude:

“…these data are in agreement with the extensive body of literature describing the sensitivity of the brain to diet-induced obesity and the growing number of studies linking gut microbiota to central nervous system health and behavior.
For example, there is a reported high comorbidity [overlap] between psychiatric syndromes, including depression and anxiety, with gastrointestinal disorders, while conversely, recent studies link probiotics to positive changes in mood and behavior.”

source: PsyBlog


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License to Sin: How to Dodge a Devilish Self-Control Loophole

 You want another slice of cake or glass of wine, but you know you shouldn’t have one.

It’s the classic self-control dilemma.
But luckily there’s a loophole; sometimes we mentally give ourselves permission to indulge: “Well, I’ve worked hard today, so I’ll have another slice of cake or glass of wine.”
Now there’s a ‘license to sin’.
A recent study cleverly demonstrates this ‘license to sin’ and shows how dangerous it can be (de Witt Huberts et al., 2012).

A little snack

To investigate, the researchers tricked one group of people into thinking they’d worked twice as hard on a boring test as another group.
Both groups were then asked to do a ‘taste test’ of some rather tempting looking snacks.
The group that thought they’d worked harder now had more of a ‘license to sin’ as a reward to themselves.
And sure enough they ate, on average, 130 calories more in 10 minutes than the other group.
It’s fascinating that the participants did this without being told they’d worked harder or being given any other cues.
Also remember that, on average, both groups had their mental self-control muscles depleted the same amount as they’d both spent the same time doing the boring task.

Avoid the loophole

What this study is showing is that these well-worn mental thought processes can be insidious. The mind has all sorts of tricks it plays so that it can get what it wants.
The ‘license to sin’ is one of them. You want to over-indulge, so your mind creates this little story that says: I’ve worked hard, so I deserve it.
The clever thing is that it can completely bypass all those logical, rational things we’ve told ourselves about healthy eating (or whatever it is) and, non-coincidentally, we get what we want.
None of this is to say that we shouldn’t indulge ourselves from time-to-time, but the question is: how often is the license to sin being invoked?
It’s a way of allowing our misbehaviour that is like an exception we all know about, but somehow don’t pull ourselves up on.
Being more aware of, and watching out for this trick may be useful in bolstering our self-control.
source: PsyBlog


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Top 10 Ways To Stop Cravings For Sugar, Salt and Fats

by Dr. Mark Hyman     October 14, 2013

According to a recent article in the New York Times, “Food Corporations Turn to Chefs in a Quest for Healthy Flavor,” Big Food companies like PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, and even fast food giants like Taco Bell are changing their ways in response to the increasing public demand for healthier food options. To improve their image as healthy food manufacturers, Big Food corporations have called upon top chefs to help them create healthy menu makeovers, infusing real, fresh, whole food into old recipe favorites.

Why is this happening now? Intense pressure brought on by politicians and their constituents (you and me!) has given these food manufacturers no choice but to respond to the public outcry for healthier food. It’s no longer enough for these companies to earn a profit by selling food that tastes good. People are beginning to use the power of the pocketbook to show these companies that the food they sell must also be nutritious.

That’s because people everywhere are waking up. They are beginning to see the dangers of genetically-modified ingredients and all the sugar, salt, and fats hidden in our food supply. From fancy restaurants to fast food chains, chefs are catching on that people want their food to make them feel good, not just while they are eating it but hours, days, and years afterward.

Really, this news shouldn’t make the headlines. This is common sense! Paying for food that makes us sick is as crazy as shooting ourselves in the foot. It just doesn’t make sense.

Big Food is finally getting the message and getting on board.

But remember, no processed or fast food option will ever be better than a healthy home-cooked meal. The best way to ensure you are eating the highest quality, most nutritious food possible is to prepare your own food in your own kitchen. We are all chefs. You don’t have to be trained at Le Cordon Bleu to know your way around a kitchen. You just need a little knowledge, some imagination, and a sense of adventure.

A desire for real food is a fundamental part of our basic biological blueprint. Given the chance, our taste receptors will naturally gravitate toward the inherent sweetness found in vegetables, fruits, and even nuts and seeds.


So, how do you reprogram your taste buds to ditch the cravings for sugar, salt, and fats? You can start by eating real, fresh, whole foods. Avoid fake, commercialized foods that come in convenience packages or are made in a lab.

Here are 10 more tips to get you excited about ditching the sugar, salt, and fats:

  • Sauté or roast your veggies to bring out their natural sweetness. Properly searing your chicken or meat brings out the inherent sweetness by way of the Maillard reaction. This is a fancy name for what happens when you create that nice, brown crust on your meat.
  • Play with herbs like cilantro, parsley, dill, basil, and oregano to add flavor and phytonutrients! Finish a meal by adding fresh herbs before plating or serving. This last-minute addition kicks the flavor up a notch!
  • Healthy fats found in avocado, coconut, and tahini not only increase the flavor of your meal, they also add that creamy, luscious texture found in many rich foods.
  • Try creating a savory, umami (Japanese for “delicious”) flavor. Add moderate amounts of tamari, umeboshi plum paste, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, dried mushroom, or sea vegetables to your next stew, soup, sauce, or stir-fry.
  • Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, ginger, and even cayenne or chipotle pepper powder are all extremely flavorful additions to a meal. Spices like these excite your taste buds and grab your attention. This is helpful, because, as studies show, when we are focused on actually tasting our food rather than mindlessly gobbling it up, we actually need less food to feel satisfied.
  • Befriend some kitchen must-haves like real vanilla extract or vanilla bean or coconut butter. Or use common, every-day foods like lemons in some creative ways. For example, use lemon zest to add real zing to any meal!
  • For the most flavor, eat seasonally and locally. Canned or packaged foods or foods that have traveled great distances in the back of a truck just can’t compare to the succulence of a fresh piece of locally grown fruit.
  • Check your hydration. Digestion starts in your mouth with your saliva, which helps us taste all the magnificent flavor in food. If you are dehydrated and not producing enough saliva, you won’t really be able to enjoy your food.
  • Check your medications. Believe it or not, most medications interfere with the body’s ability to taste and smell. Some of them can even create an unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth.
  • Got nutrition? Nutrient deficiency is an important cause of improper taste perception. A lack of certain vitamins and minerals can markedly impair your ability to smell and taste food. Most Americans have several nutrient deficiencies, but there is one in particular that can especially keep you from enjoying your next meal: zinc. Try adding foods like oysters, pecans, sunflower seeds, and lentils to increase your daily intake of this important mineral.


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World Renown Heart Surgeon Speaks Out On What Really Causes Heart Disease

We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here it is. I freely admit to being wrong.. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries,today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact.

I trained for many years with other prominent physicians labelled “opinion makers.”  Bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, we opinion makers insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol.

The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. The latter of course we insisted would lower cholesterol and heart disease. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibly result in malpractice.

It Is Not Working!

These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated.

The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences.

Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before.

Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year.

Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.

Inflammation is not complicated — it is quite simply your body’s natural defence to a foreign invader such as a bacteria, toxin or virus. The cycle of inflammation is perfect in how it protects your body from these bacterial and viral invaders. However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process,a condition occurs called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial.

What thoughtful person would willfully expose himself repeatedly to foods or other substances that are known to cause injury to the body?  Well,smokers perhaps, but at least they made that choice willfully.

The rest of us have simply followed the recommended mainstream dietthat is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. Thisrepeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.

Let me repeat that: The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine.

What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flourand all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.

Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly bleeding. you kept this up several times a day, every day for five years. If you could tolerate this painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that became worse with each repeated injury. This is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now.

Regardless of where the inflammatory process occurs, externally or internally, it is the same. I have peered inside thousands upon thousands of arteries. A diseased artery looks as if someone took a brush and scrubbed repeatedly against its wall. Several times a day, every day, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond continuously and appropriately with inflammation.

While we savor the tantalizing taste of a sweet roll, our bodies respond alarmingly as if a foreign invader arrived declaring war. Foods loaded with sugars and simple carbohydrates, or processed withomega-6 oils for long shelf life have been the mainstay of the American diet for six decades. These foods have been slowly poisoning everyone.


How does eating a simple sweet roll create a cascade of inflammation to make you sick?

Imagine spilling syrup on your keyboard and you have a visual of what occurs inside the cell. When we consume simple carbohydrates such as sugar, blood sugar rises rapidly. In response, your pancreas secretes insulin whose primary purpose is to drive sugar into each cell where it is stored for energy. If the cell is full and does not need glucose, it is rejected to avoid extra sugar gumming up the works.

When your full cells reject the extra glucose, blood sugar rises producing more insulin and the glucose converts to stored fat.

What does all this have to do with inflammation? Blood sugar is controlled in a very narrow range. Extra sugar molecules attach to a variety of proteins that in turn injure the blood vessel wall. This repeated injury to the blood vessel wall sets off inflammation. When you spike your blood sugar level several times a day, every day, it is exactly like taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels.

While you may not be able to see it, rest assured it is there. I saw it in over 5,000 surgical patients spanning 25 years who all shared one common denominator — inflammation in their arteries.

Let’s get back to the sweet roll. That innocent looking goody not only contains sugars, it is baked in one of many omega-6 oils such as soybean. Chips and fries are soaked in soybean oil; processed foods are manufactured with omega-6 oils for longer shelf life. While omega-6’s are essential -they are part of every cell membrane controlling what goes in and out of the cell – they must be in the correct balance with omega-3’s.

If the balance shifts by consuming excessive omega-6, the cell membrane produces chemicals called cytokines that directly cause inflammation.

Today’s mainstream American diet has produced an extreme imbalance of these two fats. The ratio of imbalance ranges from 15:1 to as high as 30:1 in favor of omega-6. That’s a tremendous amount of cytokines causing inflammation. In today’s food environment, a 3:1 ratio would be optimal and healthy.

To make matters worse, the excess weight you are carrying from eating these foods creates overloaded fat cells that pour out large quantities of pro-inflammatory chemicals that add to the injury caused by having high blood sugar. The process that began with a sweet roll turns into a vicious cycle over time that creates heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetesand finally, Alzheimer’s disease, as the inflammatory process continues unabated.

There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the inflammation switch little by little each day. The human body cannot process, nor was it designed to consume, foods packed with sugars and soaked in omega-6 oils.

There is but one answer to quieting inflammation, and that is returning to foods closer to their natural state. To build muscle, eat more protein. Choose carbohydrates that are very complex such as colorful fruits and vegetables. Cut down on or eliminate inflammation- causing omega-6 fats like corn and soybean oil and the processed foods that are made from them.

One tablespoon of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6; soybean contains 6,940 mg. Instead, use olive oil or butter from grass-fed beef. 

Animal fats contain less than 20% omega-6 and are much less likely to cause inflammation than the supposedly healthy oils labelled polyunsaturated. Forget the “science” that has been drummed into your head for decades. The science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.

The cholesterol theory led to the no-fat, low-fat recommendations that in turn created the very foods now causing an epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine made a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of foods high in omega-6 fats. We now have an epidemic of arterial inflammation leading to heart disease and other silent killers.

What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet.

Dr. Dwight Lundell is the past Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery at Banner Heart Hospital , Mesa , AZ. His private practice, Cardiac Care Center was in Mesa, AZ. Recently Dr. Lundell left surgery to focus on the nutritional treatment of heart disease. He is the founder of Healthy Humans Foundation that promotes human health with a focus on helping large corporations promote wellness. He is also the author of The Cure for Heart Disease and The Great Cholesterol Lie.


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Why High-Fat Diets May Trigger Overeating

August 15, 2013    By Health Editor  Brenda Goodman   HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 15 (HealthDay News) — Many people who have tried to give up fatty foods in favor of healthier choices have found themselves obsessing over cookies or chips. Choosing a salad over a cheeseburger can feel like a Herculean act of will.

Now scientists believe they’ve found an important clue about why this happens.

Working in mice, researchers say they’ve discovered how the gut talks to the reward centers of the brain, and how high-fat diets can jam this communication, potentially leading to overeating and obesity.

The study, which was published online Aug. 15 in the journal Science, also found that high-fat diets actually led mice to turn up their noses at their normal, low-fat chow.

“The implications to humans are huge,” said Paul Kenny, a professor of pharmacology at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla.

“You’re trying to lose weight. You have a bad diet and you’re trying to adjust it, [but] your body and brain in concert are saying, ‘No, I don’t want that type of food,’” said Kenny, who was not involved in the research. “The chips are stacked against you — literally, potato chips. And that’s why you’re very likely to fail.”

Eating food — especially food high in fat — triggers the release of the feel-good brain chemical dopamine.

Previous studies have found that as people and mice become obese, the brain’s dopamine system stops working properly. Eating becomes less rewarding.

As food becomes less stimulating, one theory holds that people need to eat more and more to feel satisfied — creating a vicious cycle of weight gain and overeating.

But researchers have never really understood why or how this happens, or, crucially, how to stop it.

For the new study, researchers studied two groups of mice. The first group was fed a normal, low-fat diet. The second group was put on a high-fat diet. Researchers fed the mice through catheters that ran directly into their stomachs to eliminate any influence from the taste or chewing of the foods.


As expected, the mice consuming a high-fat diet made less dopamine in their brains. But surprisingly, they also made less of a lipid (fat) signal called oleoylethanolamine (OEA) in their intestines.

OEA plays an important role in digestion, said the expert who first identified the signal.

“It prevents the excessive eating of fat,” said Daniele Piomelli, a professor of anatomy and neurobiology at the University of California, Irvine.

When the researchers gave the mice on the high-fat diet an infusion of OEA, they also made more dopamine in their brains, suggesting that the signal also plays an important role in the reward value of food.

“The fact that this compound is connected with the reward centers of the brain is beautiful and makes sense because all survival mechanisms depend on reward,” said Piomelli, who was not involved in the current study.

When humans hunted and gathered their food, it would have made sense for fat to be highly rewarding to the brain.

“Fat is in such short supply in nature. Not in our refrigerators, but in nature it is,” Piomelli said. “It is very important for the body to be able to eat the small amounts it finds in the wild and to be able to absorb it completely. That’s what this compound does.”

Now that dietary fat is hard to escape, this ancient feedback loop may be working against humans.

“We do know that people who have problems making the lipid signal OEA tend to become more morbidly obese,” Piomelli said.

But the study also shows there may be hope on the horizon for frustrated dieters.

Mice on a high-fat diet given infusions of OEA lost weight and started to show more interest in low-fat food, suggesting that the compound makes the brain more sensitive to smaller amounts of calories in the gut, said researcher Ivan de Araujo, an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University.

Experts say, however, that results from animal studies often don’t turn out the same in humans.

Whether medications that boost OEA might one day help cottage cheese become as rewarding to the human brain as cheesecake remains to be seen.

“We don’t know whether this can successfully be translated into humans,” he said.

source: Health.com


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What you need to know about brain fog

Aug 06, 2009    by Christine Cristiano

TIPS TO CLEAR YOUR HEAD

The occurrence of brain fog is a common health concern among thousands of people. Unfortunately, brain fog is one of those loosely defined unknown ailments that is not recognized as a medical or psychological condition. The symptoms associated with brain fog, however, are very real and can be alarming for those who suffer from them. If you’ve been having problems with concentration, memory and clarity, you may be experiencing this aggravating ailment.
 

WHAT IS BRAIN FOG?

Brain fog is defined as a feeling of being somewhat disconnected or spaced out, mentally confused and lacking clarity, focus and concentration. Other symptoms may include a decrease in short-term memory, reduced attention span and the onset of forgetfulness. The condition can present itself slowly over a short period of time or progress very quickly.
 
Individuals who suffer from brain fog will describe the feeling of being zoned out, detached, and “stuck inside their head.” Some sufferers also report that they feel a tingling on top of their head, a sensation of cotton balls being in their head, and an impairment in their vision.
 

BRAIN FOG TRIGGERS AND CAUSES

Although it is difficult to prove the causes of brain fog, there are many theories as to its origins. According to various articles written on the condition, stress and lack of sleep are often to blame.
 
As we all know, restful sleep is essential for keeping the brain functioning at optimal capacity. A prolonged disruption in the normal sleeping cycle can result in moodiness, depression and a decrease in the brain’s functioning. For this reason, brain fog is also associated with other less defined illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, which disrupt an individual’s normal healthy sleep patterns.
 
Brain fog has also been linked to autoimmune diseases such as lupus and multiple sclerosis due in part to the effects of these diseases on the body and the body’s inability to get rid of toxins.
 
The causes of brain fog, however, are not limited to autoimmune disorders. Symptoms may be the result of hypoglycemia and other fluctuations in blood sugar levels, food sensitivities, and deficiencies in vitamin B-12, magnesium, amino acids and copper. Other possible causes include chronic viral infections, metal toxicity, and side effects from medications used to treat anxiety, sleep disorders and nausea.
 
Ailments affecting the digestive system such as chronic constipation, diarrhea, irritable or inflammatory disease, can cause a build up of toxins and trigger brain fog. Pregnant women, new moms, and menopausal females may suffer from brain fog due to changes in hormones. Individuals who battle the overabundance of yeast or Candida in their system can experience brain fog. The condition can also be caused by chemical overload due to indoor fumes arising from building materials or furniture.
 

9 TIPS TO CLEAR YOUR HEAD

1. See your doctor first. There are many proactive measures one can take to reduce the effects of brain fog, but before embarking on your own health regime, schedule an appointment with your doctor to rule out any undetected abnormalities. Blood tests can confirm whether your brain fog is caused from a mineral imbalance, food sensitivities or allergies.
 
2. Be patient and keep researching. It may be difficult to determine the cause behind brain fog because the triggers can vary widely from person to person. Be patient, keep a positive attitude, and continue to ferret out the possible triggers.
 
3. Follow a healthy lifestyle. As with so many other conditions, oftentimes the key to recovery is taking care of yourself. Be sure to follow a healthy diet, get a daily dose of moderate exercise and prioritize sound sleep.
 
4. Clean up your diet. If you are a regular consumer of artificial sweeteners or foods that contain MSG, eliminate them from your diet. Although fish and seafood contain many contain healthy nutrients, they can also contain mercury which may trigger brain fog if eaten in large quantities over a long period of time.
 
5. Get rid of the chemicals. You may need to give your cleaning products an overhaul. Consider eco-friendly products over products made with harsh ingredients. If you suspect the building materials or furniture in your house are the problem, talk to a building professional about the types of finishes and chemicals that are lurking in your house.
 
6. Elimate the allergens. People who are sensitive to dairy and grain products or other food allergens may find relief by limiting or eliminating these foods from their diet. Consult with a food allergy specialist to determine if you have food allergies and the best way to ensure you still get your recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals.
 
7. Consider supplements. Some recommended supplements that can help reduce brain fog include coenzyme Q-10, vitamins B6 and B12, calcium, and antioxidants such as vitamin C. Your best option is foods containing these nutrients; however, supplements can ensure you are getting enough.
 
8. Eat more healthy fats. If your brain fog is caused by elevated cholesterol levels, consuming foods that contain monounsaturated fatty acids like almonds, avocados and olives, can help reduce the build-up in your arteries and improve blood flow to the brain. Consult with your doctor for other cholesterol lowering tips.
 
9. Keep a journal. If you have experienced repeated episodes of brain fog, consider keeping a daily diary of your activities, sleep patterns, emotional responses, foods that you have consumed, and any other factors that may play a part in triggering the condition. Sometimes, the process of elimination can lead to the best remedy and outcome.
 


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5 ways to drop your soda habit

By Keri Gans, Special to CNN    June 27, 2013

Editor’s note: Keri Gans is a registered dietitian/nutritionist, media personality, author of “The Small Change Diet” and spokeswoman for the Aetna “What’s Your Healthy” campaign.

(CNN) – Despite recent heightened awareness about its many negative effects on our health, whether it’s to get through the mid-afternoon slump or paired with lunch or dinner as our beverage of choice, many of us still reach for soda daily for a jolt of caffeine and sugary satisfaction.

Perhaps because of a person’s overall unhealthy food and beverage choices, studies have shown that even minimal soda consumption may lead to weight gain. Unfortunately, that weight gain can lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes and a heightened chance of stroke.

Increased soda consumption also has been linked to kidney stones and tooth decay. Unfortunately, caffeine can be highly addictive and habit-forming, and many Americans are wary of cutting it out cold turkey.

So how does one ditch a dependence on soda? Here are five tips for kicking your soda habit for good:

Hydrate with H2O. The body needs water to function optimally, but its benefits extend beyond being a necessity for everyday, basic health.

Reach for a glass of water when the urge for soda strikes. While both beverages help us to feel temporarily full, water won’t leave you feeling deflated like the letdown after a caffeine high. If it’s carbonation you crave, try seltzer or sparkling water when you’re thirsty.

Water doesn’t have to be plain, either – try adding produce like lemon, lime, or watermelon for a refreshing and satisfying twist. 

pop

Seek support. Soda is often consumed in large amounts in social situations, whether at the movies or dining in groups. Enlisting friends, significant others, and relatives to help you rid yourself of your habit will help keep you accountable and on track.

As reducing your caffeine intake can often lead to withdrawal symptoms, including mood swings, it’s important to communicate effectively with loved ones. Keeping lines of communication open can help boost your mood and release negative thoughts and feelings.

Choose a healthier “caffeinated” beverage. Antioxidant-rich green tea is an excellent alternative to soda and has been shown to offer a number of overall health benefits. Studies have shown green tea may protect skin from sun damage, stabilize blood sugar levels and decrease the risk for certain types of cancer.

The taste of green tea can be easily enhanced by drinking it over ice, or adding fresh-squeezed lemon. Consuming green tea can also aid in weaning you from your perceived need for caffeine – the beverage contains a small amount (significantly less than soda) of naturally occurring caffeine.

Stay occupied. As with many of the things we do with repetition, they often become habits due to boredom.

If you find yourself mindlessly heading for the fridge, grab a quick, low-calorie snack instead. Sweet-tasting flavored low-fat Greek yogurt, for instance, may satisfy your need for a quick pick-me-up. Making a brief phone call to a friend or browsing your favorite website may also fill the need to busy yourself.

Isolate yourself from the source of your addiction. You’re much more likely to cave to the temptation of popping the tab on a cold can of soda if one is within easy reach.

It’s a simple solution, but ridding your environment of soda altogether can prove vital in your battle for a soda-free diet. If you do the grocery shopping in your home, don’t buy it to begin with. If your workplace is your pitfall, advocate for healthier options in your office’s vending machine or take a new walking route to avoid the lure of soda calling your name. 

source: CNN


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What Milk Shakes Teach Us About Food Addiction

By Alexandra Sifferlin  June 27, 2013

Have you ever craved a piece of chocolate? Or felt the lure of a hot slice of pizza? And been convinced that the force responsible wasn’t your stomach hoping to quell hunger but your brain, desperately seeking to satisfy something more like an addiction? A new study provides the strongest evidence yet that certain foods trigger addictive behavior just as drugs can.

Nicotine is addictive. So are drugs like cocaine and heroin. All can rewire the brain to crave the progressively elusive “high” or satisfaction that these agents produce. The desire is so strong that it overtakes all reason and need to satisfy it becomes an all-consuming mission, at the expense of your physical, emotional and social health.

Some would argue that certain foods hold the same power over people, monkeying with the brain’s normal appetite system and resetting the satisfaction threshold so it’s always just out of reach, meaning you can never eat enough. Others point to the fact that food is essential for survival so it can’t be addictive since satisfying hunger is part of, and isn’t supposed to interfere with, physical and mental health. “The concept of food addiction is very provocative and rightly so,”says Dr. David Ludwig, the director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Unlike drugs of abuse, food is necessary for survival.”

But with obesity rates still at worrisome levels, Ludwig and his colleagues decided to take an objective look at what effect food has on the brain, to see if certain foods do indeed trigger cravings as some abused substances do. Specifically, they focused on the dietary glycemic index, a measure of a food’s ability to raise blood sugar levels, on brain regions associated with cravings in a group of obese men.

“Prior research has shown the tasty high calorie foods can trigger the pleasure center of the brain. That supports the idea of food addiction, but the significance of those studies has been challenged because they typically compare grossly different foods like cheesecake versus boiled vegetables,” says Ludwig. “Yes, certain foods are tasty and enjoyable, but is that so different from a audiophile listening to beautiful music?”

Ludwig took MRI scans of the brains of 12 obese men after they consumed two milk shakes. Both had the same amount of calories, protein, fat and carbohydrates and tasted equally sweet. However, one milk shake had a much higher glycemic index from the carbohydrates compared to the other.


After the men consumed the milk shake with the higher glycemic index, their blood sugar levels surged as expected, then crashed a few hours later, leaving them feeling hungry. But with the brain scans, Ludwig was able to show that these  shakes activated the nucleus accumbens, which is also triggered by addictive drugs and behaviors like gambling. Previous work also hinted at a connection between food and dependence; a 2012 study found that obese people lose their sensitivity to leptin, a hormone that is released by fat cells in the body and regulates feelings of hunger and fullness. Leptin may also play a role in substance addictions by modifying the body’s reward responses to things like alcohol or cocaine.

“These results suggest that highly processed carbohydrates trigger food cravings for many hours after consumption independent of calories or tastiness, and that limiting these foods could help people avoid over-eating,” says Ludwig. When the glycemic index drops, the nucleus accumbens may signal for more, in order to produce another surge, similar to the way that addictive drugs prompt cravings, he says.

But does that mean that food is addictive? One key difference between food and drug addictions involves the body’s ability to signal that it is “full,” or had enough. With drugs, there is less of a biological threshold. But the common brain patterns activated by food and addictive drugs suggests that each may inform the other. As TIME’s Maia Szalavitz reported:

Basically, regulation of food intake is more complex than drug use. That may help explain why there have been so many failures of anti-obesity drugs. But the similarities between hunger for food and for drugs suggest that if we do develop a drug that fights obesity, it may also help treat other addictions — and vice versa.

While the is-food-addictive debate shows no signs of ending, the label itself may not be that important. What matters most is finding ways to adapt our brains and behavior to the modern environment, one that contains intensely attractive food and drugs — along with highly politicized arguments about how to regulate them.

Understanding how some elements of eating may be driven by the same processes behind addictive behaviors could help to explain over-eating, for one. “By definition overweight and obese people habitually over-eat. They are eating more calories than they need,” explains Ludwig. “That raises this fundamental question, why do overweight people continue to overeat when they know intellectually that reducing calorie intake would be healthier and they’ve tried, often many times, to do so? Is it simply lack of willpower or could there be aspects of food that are driving overeating at a biological level?”

If there are biological factors at work, there may be ways to intervene to make dieting, and weight loss, easier. Eating fewer foods with high glycemic loads like white bread, for example, may keep surges of blood sugar to a minimum, which in turn could modulate the activity of the brain’s reward system and lessen cravings. Ludwig says that more research is needed to better understand the complex way that the brain sees food; even if food isn’t addictive in exactly the same way that drugs of abuse are, exposing the connections between eating and satisfaction could lead to more effective ways of managing, or even avoiding, the lure of our favorite foods.

The study is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

source: Time


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Curb junk food ads aimed at children, group says

Current generation may live ‘shorter, less healthy lives’ as a result poor diets
CBC News Posted: May 9, 2013

Canadian children under 13 shouldn’t be exposed to marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages, a coalition of medical groups says.

Thursday’s policy statement from the Canadian Medical Association, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Hypertension Canada, College of Family Physicians of Canada and others calls on food companies to immediately stop marketing foods high in fats, added sugars or sodium to children.

Federal, provincial and territorial governments have said that protecting the health of children is a priority, said Dr. Norm Campbell, a hypertension specialist at the University of Calgary who led the campaign.

“They had this on their radar and yet absolutely nothing is done, and so this is really a call for action that they do what we already know is going to be effective.”

The groups say that in 1989, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that “advertisers should not be able to capitalize upon children’s credulity” and “advertising directed at young children is per se manipulative.”

Food companies in Canada, with the exception of Quebec, are not required by law to restrict unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children.

Dr. Marie-Dominique Beaulieu is the president of the College of Family Physicians of Canada and practices in Montreal, where she says companies have clear rules on what is considered healthy.


“Up to 80 per cent of food advertising actually advertises unhealthy food and we know that it has a direct impact on the choices that children make,” Beaulieu said.

Canada hasn’t acted

In May 2010, the World Health Organization released recommendations on the marketing of food and beverages to children and called on governments worldwide to reduce the exposure of children to advertising and to reduce the use of powerful marketing techniques employed by the manufacturers of foods and beverages high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free added sugars or sodium.

Canada has not acted on the recommendations, the health groups said.

The group’s statement describes the policy goal this way: “Federal government to immediately begin a legislative process to restrict all marketing targeted to children under the age of 13 of foods and beverages high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or sodium and that in the interim the food industry immediately ceases marketing of such food to children.”

They plan to use WHO’s recommendations on high content of saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or sodium.

“Right now, we have a voluntary ban on marketing of unhealthy foods to children from the food industry,” said Campbell. “The industries that have signed on to that are the worst offenders. What they’ve done is made their own definition.”

If enacted, the restrictions would apply to TV, internet, radio, magazines, mobile phones, video and adver-games, brand mascots, product placement, cross-promotions, school or event sponsorships and viral marketing.

Arlene Star of Toronto is careful about exposing her four-year-old daughter Jenna to TV ads but she still knows all the branded characters.

“It is up to the parents, but let’s try to make it easier for the parents so it doesn’t necessarily have to be a daily struggle,” Star said.

On Wednesday night, NDP member of Parliament Libby Davies’s bill to phase in lower sodium levels in prepackaged foods and add simple, standardized labels, failed to pass with a vote of 147 to 122, the Centre for Science in the Public Interest said.

With files from CBC’s Kas Roussy and Kim Brunhuber

source: CBC