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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Walnuts May Control Your Mind To Help Lose Weight

No nut is going to control me, you may say. You are your own person. You eat what you want, when you want. But science may say otherwise about walnuts.

What is up with deez nuts? Five researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston (Olivia M. Farr Ph.D., Dario Tuccinardi M.D., Jagriti Upadhyay M.D., Sabrina M. Oussaada, and Christos S. Mantzoros M.D., D.Sc., Ph.D.) conducted a study published in Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism. The researchers first randomly assigned ten hospitalized patients with obesity five straight days of either a smoothie with 48 grams of walnuts or a similarly tasting and textured smoothie without walnuts. Then after one month of returning to their original diets, those who first got the walnut smoothie then got five days of the non-walnut smoothie and vice versa. One participant eventually dropped out of the study, leaving nine who completed the whole protocol.

At the beginning of the study, the researchers measured each of the study subjects’ brain activity using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. After the 5 day smoothie diet, study subjects then underwent another fMRI to see how things had changed.

Then there was the food porn. The researchers showed the study subjects different pictures while undergoing the fMRI. Pictures included those of “highly desirable foods” (high-calorie or high-fat images, e.g., cakes, onion rings), “less desirable foods” (low-calorie or low-fat images, e.g.,, vegetables and fruits) and “non-foods” (e.g., flowers, rocks, trees). Yes, you rock and flower eaters may say that everything’s subjective, but these were the designations by the researchers. Before and after each fMRI scan, study subjects completed visual analog scales (VAS) to measure how hungry or full they felt.

The study resulted in two major findings. First, after the walnut smoothie diet, study subjects reported feeling less hungry than after the non-walnut smoothie diet. Secondly, following the five days of walnut smoothies, study subjects had differences in their brain activity (as measured by fMRI) when shown food porn. Specifically, the right insula part of the brain seemed to be more active. Parts of the insula may be responsible for satiety and inhibition. In other words, something about walnuts may be telling your brain to simmer down when shown mouth-watering food. This could be some Vulcan mind meld-like stuff: walnuts may help you control your appetite and thus help with managing your weight.

 

Of course, this is a very small study with measurements taken only over a short period of time. It also does not prove that walnuts can actually control your appetite or if any of the findings will persist over time. Effects can wear off as the brain and body get used to eating a certain type of food. More, larger, and more complex studies are needed before drawing stronger conclusions. But these results are encouraging. Note that the California Walnut Commission (CWC) did provide funding for this study. However, they were not directly involved in designing, conducting, interpreting, or reporting the results for the study.

These findings are not completely surprising. There is increasing evidence that food and their ingredients don’t simply just provide calories and nutrients to your body like emptying a dump truck into a hole (with the hole being your mouth). Food and ingredients may interact and communicate with your body in many different and mysterious ways. For example, the work of Tim Moran, Ph.D., Director of Behavioral and Biological Research for our Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) and Paul R. McHugh Professor of Motivated Behaviors at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, has shown how your gastrointestinal tract and brain are communicating back and forth with each other to help regulate your hunger, cravings, and metabolism. Even though your body may seem relatively quiet (although some people’s bodies may seem louder than others), there’s a lot of discussion and maybe even arguments going on inside you. Here’s a talk from Dr. Moran for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine that begins to show just how complex these systems are:

How noisy your body and brain may be may vary compared to others, depending on you and all of the cues around you. For instance, a recent study published in the journal Neuroimage and led by Susan Carnell, PhD, another member of our GOPC and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, found that adolescents who are at higher obesity risk may have different brain activity patterns when presented with words representing different types of foods.

As Dr. Carnell explained, “When it comes to hunger and satiation, a calorie is not necessarily a calorie. Food with a high glycemic index, like pasta, are processed more quickly than those with a low glycemic index, like beans and nuts, so you may still feel hungry after consuming a large amount of mac and cheese.”

Thus, adding an ingredient here and there to your food, especially artificial ones, could change what your food is saying to you. For example, Alice Walton previously wrote for Forbes about how artificial sweeteners may even lead to weight gain by interfering with brain connections that usually associate the sensation of sweetness and energy intake. In other words, your brain may usually equate a certain amount of sweet food with a certain amount of calories. When this association is messed up (which is a scientific term), your brain may say something is screwed up, eat more food. That’s why the global obesity epidemic may be due in part to the content of our food having changed. Since the 1980’s more and more “manufactured” and highly processed food has entered our diets.

All of this reemphasizes how you, your surroundings, food, nutrition, health, and obesity really form very complex systems and how obesity is very complex problem. It also says that even when you are eating alone, you are not really alone. Your food is having conversations with your body and brain. You might as well say in your best Robert De Niro voice to your food, “you talkin’ to me?” The answer with walnuts is probably yes and maybe in a good way.

Bruce Y. Lee , CONTRIBUTOR       AUG 19, 2017       Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.


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A Handful of Walnuts a Day May Help Lower Cholesterol: Study

Relaxnews    Published Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Results of a study published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care showed that adding walnuts to the daily diet of those at high risk of developing diabetes lowered cholesterol and improved blood vessel cell wall function while also boosting overall quality of diet.

Researchers followed 31 women and 81 men, all varying in age between 25 and 75, and all at a high risk of developing diabetes. Participants were in two groups, with one group following a calorie-controlled diet complete with dietary advice, while the other group followed a diet with no calorie control or advice. Randomly selected participants were chosen from both groups and instructed to include 56g (2 oz) of walnuts in their diet on a daily basis, with the rest of the particpants completely avoiding walnuts for a period of 6 months.

At the end of the study participants who had been eating walnuts showed a significant decrease in both ‘bad’ and total cholesterol, as well as an improvement in blood vessel cell wall function, key for allowing oxygen and carbon dioxide to pass between the blood and body tissues. However, improved cholesterol levels were also seen in the group avoiding nuts, possibly due to the placebo effect, according to the team.

While results across both groups showed no improvement in blood pressure, blood glucose, or ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, researchers did conclude that the quality of participants’ diets improved overall in the walnut-eating group, with a healthier diet associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

walnuts
Just a handful of walnuts a day
can lower cholesterol and improve the quality of your diet.

 

Too much of a good thing?

The health benefits from walnuts can be attributed to them being a rich source of essential fatty acids as well as a good source of important vitamins and minerals such as folate and vitamin E. However like other nuts, walnuts are high in calories and experts have cautioned against eating the snack to excess so as not to increase weight. Results of this study also cautioned against excessive walnut consumption, as those that consumed nuts without any calorie control showed a significant increase in body fat. However when consumed more moderately and with calorie restriction, waist circumferance decreased.

The team suggested that further studies in more diverse groups of people were in order.
Meanwhile a study published last week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, partly funded by The International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation, found that tree nuts such as walnuts may help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. After looking at the results from 61 controlled trials, with walnuts investigated in 21 of the 61 trials, researchers concluded that consuming walnuts and tree nuts in general lowers total cholesterol, a key factor when assessing a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.


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5 Reasons To Eat A Handful Of Walnuts A Day

By Diana Kelly And Sarah Klein      January 6, 2016

Serious snackers know there’s nothing like a good nut, and science agrees: Adding walnuts to your diet—even just a handful—has a whole host of benefits.

They can lower your cholesterol.
About a handful of walnuts, or 2 ounces, was linked to lowering total cholesterol numbers and LDL or “bad” cholesterol as well as improved blood vessel cell wall function in a recent study of 112 people between the ages of 25 and 75. The people randomized in the study to enjoy that daily snack saw improvements to their overall diets, compared with those randomized to go without walnuts. Added bonus: When they also were given a little dietary counseling, their waistlines shrank. Walnuts are loaded with monounsaturated fats, including known heart protectors omega-3 fatty acids.

They can improve your memory.
A 2012 Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease report found that eating walnuts as part of a Mediterranean diet was associated with better memory and brain function. The antioxidants in walnuts may help counteract age-related cognitive decline and even reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

They can reduce inflammation.
You’ve likely heard of the inflammation-fighting powers of those all-mighty omega-3s. And while the most powerful of them all—docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)—come from fish, the plant variety, alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, shouldn’t be totally written off. Walnuts are one of the richest sources of ALA, which may not carry all the health effects of its fishy compatriots but does still seem to fight inflammation. Experts think a diet higher in omega-3s may simply mean we’re not eating as many inflammation-provoking omega-6 fatty acids.

walnuts

They tackle PMS symptoms.
Just an ounce of walnuts—that’s about 14 halves, if you want to get ultra specific—contains nearly 50% of your daily recommended intake of a mineral called manganese and about 11% of your allotment for the day of magnesium. Both have been examined in preliminary research that suggests they can help temper some of your worst PMS symptoms, including mood swings, insomnia, stomach discomfort, and low back pain.

Earlier research suggests this mineral magic might be due to the way levels of both naturally fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle.

They can lower blood pressure.
In studies of how people respond to stressful situations—like plunging your foot into an ice bath or delivering a speech in front of your peers—those who eat walnuts seem to have lower blood pressure, both in response to that stress and when not under stress. Since walnut oil, as well as flax oil, produced similar results, researchers believe the perks may be due to that same ALA that reduces inflammation, this time exerting its do-good properties on BP.

The best news: Getting an additional ounce of walnuts a day happens to be crazy easy. Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet, likes to add chopped walnuts to her oatmeal, sprinkle them on salads, add them to a bread-crumb crust for fish or chicken, and throw walnut halves in the blender with her smoothies after soaking them in water.

More of a baked goods lover (and really, who isn’t)? Enjoying walnuts in baked items like banana bread still has health benefits and could help with critical thinking, according to research in the British Journal of Nutrition.  The study found that eating half a cup of walnuts per day (ground up in banana bread!) for 8 weeks led to an 11.2% increase in inferential reasoning skills (the ability to deduce info based on prior experiences) among college students.

To keep shelled nuts from going rancid, store them in the fridge for up to a month or in the freezer for up to a year.


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A Handful of This Everyday Food Improves Memory, Concentration And Processing Speed

Just 13 grams of this regular food improves brain function across the ages.

Eating a handful of walnuts each day may help improve memory, concentration and the speed at which the brain processes information, a new study finds.

No matter what people’s age, gender or ethnicity, adults who ate walnuts had greater cognitive function, the research found.

The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, is the first in humans to show that walnuts may have a beneficial effect on cognitive health (Arab & Ang, 2014).

Dr. Lenore Arab, who led the study, said:

“It is exciting to see the strength of the evidence from this analysis across the U.S. population supporting the previous results of animal studies that have shown the neuroprotective benefit from eating walnuts; and it’s a realistic amount – less than a handful per day (13 grams).”

The conclusions come from an analysis of a series of very large US nutritional surveys of a nationally representative sample.

Across the age groups — from 20- to 90-years-old — people who ate more walnuts had improved cognitive performance.

In those over 60, though, the results were particularly encouraging, with boosts in learning and memory of around 7% on average.

walnuts

Importantly, the study can’t tell us that eating walnuts causes improved cognitive function, but it is suggestive.

This is also not the first study to find a link between walnut consumption and improved cognitive health.

The nut has already been connected to improved brain health in Alzheimer’s disease, but as yet only in a mouse model.

It’s not yet known exactly why walnuts are beneficial, but there are a number of possibilities, as they contain:

  • high levels of antioxidants,
  • alpha-linolenic acid (ALA),
  • and numerous vitamins and minerals.

Dr. Alfonso Ang, the study’s co-author, said:

“It isn’t every day that research results in such simple advice – eating a handful of walnuts daily as a snack, or as part of a meal, can help improve your cognitive health.”

 

source: PsyBlog

 


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Omega 3s for Weight Loss: Timing is Everything

Michelle Schoffro Cook      January 17, 2014

You’ve probably heard that Omega 3 fatty acids are good for you. You may even know they help with weight loss. But, timing when you ingest them plays a huge role in how much fat you’ll burn or whether you’ll burn fat at all.

walnuts


When researching my book 60 Seconds to Slim, I discovered that when people take Omega 3 fatty acids, or ingest them from food sources, plays a significant role in whether they’ll lose weight. By taking Omega 3s or eating Omega-3 rich foods within one hour of working out, the body will burn 14% more fat than through exercise alone.

It’s easy to obtain Omega-3 fatty acids from diet if you consume the following foods on a daily basis:

  • A handful of raw, unsalted walnuts
  • A tablespoon of freshly-ground flaxseeds two times daily or a tablespoon of flaxseed oil drizzled on food
  • Fatty fish like wild salmon, flounder, catfish, sardines, mackerel, herring, kipper, or whitebait. Tuna also contains high amounts of Omega 3s but is frequently contaminated with high levels of mercury.

If you’re supplementing with Omega 3s, 2000 milligrams of eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) is a typical daily dose.

Omega 3 fatty acids have many other health benefits too, including:

  • Reducing the risk of heart disease
  • Brain disease prevention
  • Preventing diabetes
  • Pain-reduction
  • Joint healing and arthritis-prevention


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Top 10 Brain Foods

by Daily Health Post on March 22, 2013

Boost your brain power and keep your cognitive processes running smoothly into old age with these top ten brain foods.

1. Olive Oil
Drizzling your salad with olive oil or using it to sauté veggies may help preserve your brain’s overall health and function as you age. A 2010 study found that diets rich in monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil, can improve scores on test of overall cognitive function as well as verbal memory.

2. Avocados
Like olive oil, avocados contain monounsaturated fats, which also contribute to proper blood flow to the brain and lower blood pressure. Since high blood pressure is a significant contributor to cognitive decline, eating foods like avocados that lower your risk of hypertension is a great way to ward off age-related brain power shortages.

3. Sardines
Rich in Omega-3s, sardines give your brain the fatty acids it needs to build and maintain cell membranes. Diets containing high amounts of Omega-3s have also been associated with improved memory and focus, as well as a lower long-term risk of dementia.

4. Walnuts
These fiber and protein-rich nuts contain another type of Omega-3 not found in animal sources: alpha-linolenic acid, also known as ALA. Plus, just about every type of nut, including walnuts, is rich in vitamin E, which can improve blood flow and ensure that your brain is getting the oxygen it needs to work efficiently.

5. Spinach
Popeye may have had the right idea. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that women who consumed more green leafy vegetables over 25 years exhibited fewer signs of age-related cognitive decline than those who avoided veggies like spinach, kale, and Brussels sprouts.


6. Coffee
Women who drink coffee have a far lower risk of developing depression than those who don’t, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Although the effects haven’t been studied in men, it’s likely that this benefit translates to them, too.

7. Tea
If you’re not a fan of coffee, freshly brewed tea is an excellent alternative. Lower levels of caffeine may still protect the brain from depression and boost focus and memory without the risk of anxiety and jitteriness, while the antioxidants in tea improve blood flow to the brain.

8. Beans
Your brain runs on glucose, which means that maintaining steady levels of blood sugar help your brain to work better. Beans provide a steady source of energy to your brain, along with protein, fiber, and minerals that keep the rest of your body functioning well.

9. Blueberries
Since they’re frequently touted as an antioxidant-rich superfood, you may be getting somewhat bored of blueberries. But this little fact might reinvigorate your love for this fruit: a study in mice found that a blueberry-enriched diet can not only prevent, but can actually reverse memory loss related to object recognition.

10. Water
When it comes to immediate cognitive decline, dehydration is a serious culprit. In fact, when you don’t drink enough water, your brain actually shrinks. This means that your brain works far less efficiently than when it is hydrated, likely leading to impaired executive functions.
Have any other tips for good brain health? Share them in the comments section!

Sources:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S089990071000136X
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ana.23593/abstract
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3/
http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1105943
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20336685
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15852398
http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/eat-smart-healthier-brain

source: dailyhealthpost.com


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5 Foods to Make You Happy (Hint: Omega-3s)

By Sherry Guastini   June 13, 2012

Do you ever feel depressed or disconnected from your daily life, as if you’re just going through the motions? Are your relationships suffering because you feel numb and joyless? Do you forget appointments or events and then wonder why? Do you have a child who seems to cry easily, feel sad a lot or just seems withdrawn?

If so, you are not alone. Depression rates in the U.S. “have roughly tripled over two decades,” according to several studies and reported in CBS News TV show “Sunday Morning,” which aired on March 18. That translates to 27 million Americans taking pharmaceuticals such as Wellbutrin, Celexa, Pristiq, Cymbalta, Lexapro, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor and Prozac. Studies show that these antidepressants work for only 30 to 45% of people and many of these drugs come with serious side effects such as suicide, violence, psychosis, abnormal bleeding and brain tumors.

There are many valid reasons why people could become depressed, such as the financial impact of the economy, the death of a loved one, foreclosure and abuse to name a few. However, turning to these mood-altering drugs doesn’t appear to offer a healthy solution. In fact, most of those drugs target Serotonin (the feel-good hormone) uptake while new studies show that depression is linked more closely to too much Cortisol (the stress hormone) in our system.

In fact, studies show that there are many lifestyle adjustments that can be applied for free that help to lift our mood from “can’t get off the couch” to moving through our day with a smile of accomplishment. A few changes in your daily routine can make a big difference in your mental/emotional state. Try spending time in nature or with a pet, taking a long walk, moving your body in some form of exercise you enjoy, turning off depressing news reports, finding a spiritual path that speaks to you, mindfulness practices like yoga, tai chi, meditation, and engaging in supportive relationships.

By far, one of the most disturbing facts on depression rates is that pre-schoolers are the fastest-growing market for antidepressants claims a study published in “Psychiatric Services,” April 2004. What?! The preschool years have always been among the most innocent and joyful times of life! At least four percent of preschoolers, over a million, are clinically depressed. The rate of increase in depression among children is an astounding 23% and is currently escalating, claims a Harvard University study reported in “Harvard Mental Health Newsletter”, February 2002.

Some might claim that doctors are simply getting better at diagnosing depression. I have a different opinion and it involves nutrition or the lack thereof.

Our brains, especially our growing brains, need good fats to be healthy. No, wait a second – don’t run to the freezer for ice cream quite yet! While ice cream is fatty and does taste great it will only make you feel good for a little while…. What I’m talking about are Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s).

Of all of our body parts, it’s the brain that’s most in need of high-quality fats. In fact, the brain is made up of 60% fat, mostly an Omega-3 fat called DHA. Its job is to support cellular communication and when present in the right ratio, it produces happiness while increasing learning and memory skills. If our brains are deficient in Omega-3’s we can experience depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder. Not surprisingly, Americans are deficient in Omega-3’s. Some reports indicating 95% of us lack enough Omega-3’s to support our brains!


One reason for this is our reliance on processed, nutrient-deficient foods. Ask any kid what his favorite foods are and you’ll probably get a long list of junk foods like Cheezits and Ring Dings! Not only are processed foods lacking in Omega-3’s, but are also high in Omega-6’s that unbalances the ratio of EFA’s and is the leading cause of inflammatory issues.

Once again looking to the past to solve a present day crisis provides a solution. In ages past, we had an understanding that food was medicine. When we return to the way our ancestors ate and include many natural whole foods into our diet, the dense nutrition begins to balance our brains and the rest of us as well! The lowest rates of depression are found in societies with the highest consumption of EFA rich foods.

1. Fish.

One of the biggest sources of Omega-3’s is from fish, particularly salmon, sardines and halibut. Wild-caught fish are far healthier than farm-raised. Some people are vegan or don’t like the taste of fish and choose to supplement with fish or krill oils. Choosing a highly purified version of fish oil is wise, as many fish are contaminated with PCP’s and mercury, resulting in a very expensive toxic sludge.

2. Walnuts.

Walnuts are also a good source of Omega-3’s, but be sure to buy them raw for the biggest impact.

3. Soy. 

Soy is also high in Omega-3’s. However, soy is among the most genetically modified (GM) foods on the market. GM foods contain proteins not found in nature and for many they lead to digestive issues as these strange proteins are not easily broken down. The UK experienced a 50% rise in pediatric allergies the year that GM foods were introduced in their markets. Coincidence? I think not.

4. Flax.

Flax seeds are also a great source of Omega-3’s. To access all the nutrition they hold you must be sure to grind them up. Refrigerating Flax is a must because the oil quickly becomes rancid.

5. Chia.

Lastly, chia seeds, nature’s forgotten superfood, are so chock full of Omega-3’s they are sure to put a smile on your face! As a nutrition coach, I feel chia is the superior choice for Omega-3’s. They contain 30% EFA’s and the most antioxidants of any food researched, including blueberries. Not only does that mean the oil stays very stable without the seeds needing refrigeration, but it also imparts anti-aging support to your brain and the rest of your body as well. Because the seeds have an extremely thin outer shell (unlike flax) they needn’t be ground, they are completely bio-available. Another wonderful aspect of chia seeds is that bugs don’t like the plant. This means you needn’t worry about herbicides, pesticides, mercury, PCP’s, rancidity or genetic modification.

How’s that for a superfood? Eat some and get happy – superhappy!

source: mindbodygreen.com