090718 Brain activation results in those addicted to food

090718 Brain activation results in those addicted to food

It comes as no surprise that if you are addicted to something there are going to be changes in brain activity that clearly shows up on brain scans. Nora D. Volkow, M.D. the director of the national Institute on Drug Abuse analyzed dopamine levels in obese adults. The results of these scans advanced the theory of potential addiction to food.

In October of 2011, researchers at the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene, Oregon updated the original 2001 research. They noticed during MRIs, that regions of the brain directly related to reward and the senses were brighter in obese who anticipated a chocolate milkshake more so than when they were actually drinking the milkshake. This was not the case with the MRIs of those leaner girls participating in the study.

This would indicate that people who find food to be exciting are more likely to eat more, which results in weight gain. Going back to the original research findings in October 2011, the results of the MRIs clearly show that the more you eat high-fat and high sugar foods the less your brain responds to these foods. The outcome of such a situation is a greater internal demand for these types of foods, which ultimately results in eating more to achieve the same feeling of pleasure.

At this point is important to note that not all members of the American Psychiatric Association subscribe to the food addiction theory and it has not been formally recognized as such by this association. The objective evidence that food addiction exists is presently lacking, which leads us down the road to a question of whether not the possibility of food addiction contributes greatly to the epidemic of obesity in our nation or not.

260318 Lower your blood pressure

260318 Lower your blood pressure

High blood pressure is often referred to as the silent killer because its effects are rarely felt until the disease has progressed to a dangerous level.

Here is a list of four things that you can do to potentially lower your blood pressure.

If you weigh too much, lose weight.

Look at yourself in the mirror. Can you see the fat hanging off your stomach and sides? Can you pinch more of an inch on your sides? If so, you need to lose weight. Can you see your toes? If not, you need to lose weight. Is your body mass index in the obese range? If so, lose weight.

With a 10% reduction in your weight, you will notice reductions in your blood pressure numbers.

Start becoming more physically active.

If your prime source of entertainment is watching TV, working on the computer, or socializing at the local tavern then it is time to get off your butt and get moving. Being physically active goes hand-in-hand with losing weight and they each complement one another.

Reduce eating foods that are high in salt and sodium.

Began with an inventory of the foods in your house. Look at the labels. Are they high in sodium? Do you have stacks of potato chips in the cupboards? Is there bacon and sausage in your refrigerator?

You can reduce the salt you eat by cooking your own food and not adding salt when you eat at the table. Canned vegetables, according to their labels, contain an overly high amount of sodium. You can eliminate much of this by rinsing the vegetables before you cook them. This removes much of the salty juices that contribute to the high salt content of the food.

Cut back on the alcohol you drink.

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and generally, when you are drinking, you are with friends socializing and eating crap food. More than likely the food you eat during these times contains a lot of fat and salt.

If you already have high blood pressure and are taking medications, do not stop these medications until you talk with your doctor.

190318 Low salt diets-good or bad for your health?

190318 Low salt diets-good or bad for your health?

Contrary to recent news articles suggesting that the low-salt diets are not helpful studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that one high salt meal of 1500 mg of sodium (this is at the upper end of the recommendations suggested by the US dietary guidelines for a full-day), reduces the ability of the blood vessels to dilate. Even though blood pressure is not affected, this reduction in dilation ability in healthy people was noted within thirty minutes of the meal.

High sodium loads in the body of people with impaired heart functioning can start a heart failure incident, which may lead to death. Not only is excessive salt hard on your blood vessels, it also affects your bones, kidneys, and your stomach.

The system within your body that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance is also involved in bone health. It appears as though a high sodium intake increases the elimination of calcium through the urine. This in turn causes calcium to be leached from the bone with the attending bone loss and increased risk bone fractures. It’s well known that reducing the salt intake has a positive effect on the bodies calcium balance. For this reason, a low-sodium diet may help slow the progression of age-related bone loss. Not only is the skeletal system adversely affected by high sodium, so are your kidneys.

In many people, additional salt contributes to hypertension which is a major cause of kidney dysfunction and even failure. Evidence collected from the studies of animals and humans lead directly to the contention that salt may, in some people, directly impair kidney function. Another side effect of increased calcium in the urine, see the previous paragraph, and high sodium intake is a potentially higher risk of kidney stones. The story doesn’t end there. Some studies have linked higher salt to cancers and ulcers of the stomach.

The stomach isn’t the only soft tissue organ that may be adversely affected by a high sodium diet, others are the colon and the rectum. According to the research, the evidence is not extremely clear but it is thought that the salty foods adversely affect the stomach lining and make it more likely that bacterium H.pylori can affect the tissues of lining. This bacterium is when the major cause of ulcers and stomach cancer something that most of us may want to avoid. Other findings theorize that the salty stomach environment could be altering the structure of the H.pylori and increases its ability to continue to live and do more damage to the stomach.

260218 Keeping the weight off by eating more

260218 Keeping the weight off by eating more

Well here we are, nearly at the end of March, still struggling to keep up with our New Year’s resolution to lose weight. If it is not going too well, perhaps you need to change your plan of attack. Most adults know food volume plays a critical part in controlling hunger pangs. This is because the stretch receptors in the stomach largely control the feelings of satiety.

Therefore if you eat large amounts of healthy foods that are also low calorie in the stomach receptors are going to turn off the hunger sensations. This is something that is not going to happen when you are eating snacks, high fat or fried food. Unless of course you are really eating a bunch of this unhealthy stuff.

Thus, the answer to the question of filling your stomach begins with not filling it with calories.

For example, take two identical twins, each of them has the exact same stomach but with different contents. Twin number one has 400 calories of a great tasting candy bar. Twin number two has 400 calories of a salad on board.

Now we all know, having eaten candy bars, that one candy bar is not going to fill our stomach up. Even though our stomach is not full, we still have eaten 400 calories, which means there is an awful lot of spare space down there waiting to get filled up. Twin number two, the good twin, has a stomach full of salad and the stretch receptors are saying “I am full”.

At this point, which twin would you rather be?

Which one is going to reduce their weight and move forward with their New Year’s resolution of losing useless fat?

The moral to this story is to eat 2 to 3 servings of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and other healthy bulky foods at every meal, preferably before the main course shows up on the table.

120218 Blood pressure statistics and exercise suggestions for your information

120218 Blood pressure statistics and exercise suggestions for your information

By Danny M. O’Dell, M.A. CSCS

High blood pressure is the direct cause of thousands of needless deaths a year. Here are just a few of the facts about hypertension.

  • 878,421 people died if cardiovascular disease and stroke in 2000. Or one in CVD for every 313 Americans who died.
  • 90% of 55 year olds will develop hypertension in their lifetime.
  • 50 million Americans have Hypertension, one out or every five of us!
  • The higher the blood pressure the higher the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke and kidney disease.
  • In adults over 50 systolic numbers over 140 is an important number to stay below.

Systolic/Diastolic

  • Optimal: under 120 under 80

See a doctor for any of the following:

  • Pre-hypertensive: 120/39-80-89
  • 140-159 or 90-99
  • 160-179 or 100-109
  • 180-209 or 110-119
  • 210 or more 120 or more

Signs of hypertension:

  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Vision changes or problems
  • Excessive sweating
  • Paleness or redness of the skin
  • Nosebleeds
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Palpitations
  • Ringing or buzzing in the ears
  • Impotence
  • Headaches

Stressors

  • Lack of Exercise
  • Smoking

Weight control

  • Diet
  • Alcohol
  • Loud, consistent noises

High blood pressure causes:

  • Death from stroke
  • Coronary events
  • Heart failure

Mitigating measures:

  • Reduce sodium intake
  • Maintain adequate intake of potassium
  • Follow the DASH diet
  • Maintain adequate intake of calcium and magnesium
  • Reduce dietary intake of saturated fats and cholesterol
  • Smoking-cut back or stop
  • Weight control-get within normal range
  • Diet-follow doctors advise
  • Stressors-eliminate or mitigate
  • Alcohol-cut back
  • Loud, consistent noises-protect yourself

DO NOT STOP TAKING YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICATION UNLESS AND UNTIL YOU CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR

Regular exercise:

  • Slows progression of renal failure
  • Prevents progression to more severe hypertension
  • Reduces all-cause mortality

Exercise methods used to control or reduce high blood pressure:

  • Resistance training
  • Muscular endurance
  • Circuits
  • 100’s
  • Rapid quick sessions
  • W:R of 1:1

Cardio training

  • 5-7 times per week
  • 20-40 minutes per session
  • 40%-70% @ maximum heart rate
  • 5-7 times per week
  • 10 minute bursts
  • Total time-30-45 minutes
  • 40%-70% @ maximum heart rate

“Losing 10 pounds will help remarkably” “If you don’t have time for physical activity, you will find time for illness.” Dr. Edward J. Roccella, coordinator of the National High Blood Pressure Education Program.

050218 Blood Pressure Basics The effects of exercise on blood pressure

050218 Blood Pressure Basics The effects of exercise on blood pressure

By Danny M. O’Dell, M.A. CSCS

High blood pressure is the direct cause of thousands of needless deaths a year. Here are just a few of the facts about hypertension.

Dr. Laura Svetkey, director of the Duke Hypertension Center at Duke University states. “Americans can keep blood pressure low if they: keep trim, exercise, cut back on saturated fats, limit alcohol and sodium, increase dietary potassium and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables”. http://www.bupa.co.uk/

There are positive, and negative, effects on our blood pressure when we exercise or exert ourselves physically and/or mentally.

Blood pressure is the measure of the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. One in FIVE Americans has Hypertension. Many do not even know they have it, thus the term “the silent killer” It is not uncommon for young people to have hypertension.

Blood pressure is measured by stopping the blood flow for a few seconds and then beginning again. The amount of pressure the monitor detects accurately reflects the resistance your heart is pushing against each time it beats. The monitor works in the following fashion:

The arm cuff is placed on the upper arm or forearm. The brachial artery is then pinched off to stop the flow of blood. The circulation is briefly cut off, and then the air is let out of the cuff. The first heartbeat heard is the Systolic and the last one heard is the Diastolic.

Systolic pressure is the upper number in the formula

  • When the heart contracts to pump out the blood. Pressure is highest during this phase of the process

Diastolic pressure is the lower number.

  • The heart relaxes after pumping. Pressure drops to its lowest point just before a new beat.

Pre-hypertensive

Previously pressure readings below 130/85 were considered normal.

Previously readings above 130-139 over 85-89 were considered to be in the high normal range.

290118 Changing your physical activity habits

290118 Changing your physical activity habits

Here we are, into the New Year and already many people have broken at least one New Year’s resolution. Are you one of them? If so, now could be the perfect time to step back and reevaluate why you’ve fallen off the wagon and are about to end up under the wheels.

New Year’s resolutions most often involve changing habits and that takes time. Your old habits won’t change in a flash. They weren’t developed that quickly and won’t go away that fast either.

Here are a few suggestions that may help you successfully succeed in achieving this year’s resolutions. They involve creating new habits to replace the old ones that are not working for you.

  1. Use your resolutions as your goal list. It is already written down or should be. Take this readymade list and divide it up into long term, intermediate and short term relatively easy to achieve goals. Tell others about them and begin developing your support group to help your reach each one.
  2. Change takes time and if you try to change everything at once then nothing will change. Go slowly in making these changes.
  3. Pick out the smallest and easiest habit you want to get rid of.
  4. These changes will take upwards of three to four months to complete. Develop and secure one small success at a time and then move onto the next one on your list.
  5. Since you have decided, or at least considered deciding, to begin with the smallest change on your list let me give you an example of a small something that you can do immediately. Grab a pen and paper and write down what you most recently ate or drank. Do this for a week, you will be surprised at the stuff you are putting into your body.
  6. If you want to start exercising, start small. Ride or walk for five minutes every day. No excuses just get the time in. Soon these few minutes will become easier to do and you will want to increase the time spent doing them. These minutes, short as they are, are the future building blocks toward more physical activity.
  7. If you expect these habit changes to be a walk in the park you are setting yourself up for failure. Life brings with it setbacks. How you handle them will ultimately determine your success or failure at making these habit changes permanent.
  8. If you didn’t reach a goal, reset it and go at it again. Don’t give up. The world is full of quitters, figure out where and why you didn’t meet the goal, readjust and move on. You can’t change the past, it’s over but you can change your future. Don’t waste time looking back; instead, keep focused on the goal.
  9. If today is not changed then tomorrow will not be any different.

121217 Balance out your exercise program

121217 Balance out your exercise program

It is well established that exercise benefits us in many areas such as increased self confidence, improvements in our moods, and longer healthier lives. Simply being able to do what you want to do physically and mentally may be made easier by engaging in a long term pattern of running, weight training, stretching/balance, and recreational sporting exertions.

During spring time the runners start hitting the road, especially those who are getting ready to run Bloomsday here in Spokane, Washington. While running is an admirable endeavor, it is not enough to keep your body in top physical condition. Our body needs physical and mental stimulation which is only achievable through the use of a variety of methods.

Cyclic exercise, similar to running, stresses the cardiovascular abilities thereby increasing the capacity to engage in lengthy activities through enhanced oxygen transfer to the working muscles. However, exercising in this manner will not increase the lean muscle mass composition of our body. In order to do that resistance training is necessary.

Weight training helps build strong bones.

Bone density responds directly to increases in intensities of load and site specifically to the greater pressures required to move the load. Adaptations take place within the structures of the bone that make it more resistant to the imposed loads and thus stronger.

Women in particular need this load bearing weight on their long bones, the spine and hips to stave off and help prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis from occurring. Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that progressively decreases the bone density which in time leaves them weakened and vulnerable to fracture.

 

It is well established that exercise benefits us in many areas such as increased self confidence, improvements in our moods, and longer healthier lives. Simply being able to do what you want to do physically and mentally may be made easier by engaging in a long term pattern of running, weight training, stretching/balance, and recreational sporting exertions.

Flexibility

Getting stronger helps in other ways too. The strength to recover from a slip may prevent a bone damaging fall. Postural muscles that are strengthened through weight training inevitably lead to improved posture and a reduced potential of lower back problems. Even though strength training is high on the list of maintaining a strong fit body other pieces of the equation are important too. For instance being flexible enough to tie your shoes or even scratch your back is an important part of living a full and healthy lifestyle.

Work the joints normal range of motion each day by following a stretching program. But be cautioned that static stretching performed before a strength training session has been found to lower the power output by as much as 8%. If you are a sprinter, thrower or recreational handball or tennis player stay away from these at the start of your activity. The proper place for a static stretch is at the end of the workout when the muscles are warm and receptive to change. Doing so before hand, is an invitation to injury.

Find a good stretching book; read up on the proper way to stretch and start applying these to your exercise program. Brad Walker’s Stretching Handbook or Bob Andersons Stretching are two of the premier ones on the market and each one has stood the test of time. Even though flexibility is important it is not the end of the line. Maintaining your balance becomes harder as we age.

Balance

Prevention begins with daily practice. Standing on one foot or with heel to toe for multiple seconds at a time (60-120) will help stave off this decline in balance. Leaning toward the floor on one leg with arms to the side or rear will change the center of gravity and will change the feel of the exercise. In each instance it is important to have the ability to catch yourself on something solid to prevent a dangerous fall from happening in the event you do lose your balance while doing these.

Of course there are many other ways to practice balance training but this article is not being written to list them all. Suffice it to say balance is a critical part of living a healthy life.

Bodily balance. A physical state or sense of being able to maintain bodily equilibrium

051217 Breakfast Power by Glenn Cardwell, part 2

051217 Breakfast Power by Glenn Cardwell, part 2

Breakfast
Not long ago I was asked to review the science on the benefits of breakfast for a cereal company. Although it is a common truism that “breakfast is good for you” I wanted to know if it remains good advice. So I plunged into 30+ research papers to see what was agreed about the first meal of the day. Here is what I learned.

A large Australian study from last year showed that breakfast was critical for school performance, boosting both literacy and numeracy skills, independent of the socio-economic group. This backed up a review of the previous 50 years of studies in school children. There is no doubt that breakfast is necessary to help you to learn new stuff. Usually not difficult with primary school kids because they wake up hungry. It is the upper high school kids we need to convince.

Breakfast habits changing
Twenty years ago just about every young kid ate breakfast, with only some older teenagers giving it a miss, rising to 15% of 19-24 year olds being breakfast skippers. Now we have nearly 1 in 4 of upper high school students missing breakfast, in Australia at least.

Two decades ago, over three quarters of adults ate breakfast. Now barely 6 out of 10 adults regularly eat breakfast, women being better than the menfolk. Why the decline? The most common excuse is “not enough time”, in other words not enough time to pour out cereal into a bowl, add milk and consume (Gee, that’s gotta take 6 whole minutes) or plonk two slices of bread into the toaster, shave/brush hair/pack lunch while you wait, then add peanut butter. Let’s see, that’s 7.5 minutes.

But then my concept of time and food differs to most people, a fact I accept and have resigned myself to, especially since the day I saw a line of cars outside the drive-thru section of a famous takeaway at 8 am on a school day.

What if you don’t fancy breakfast?
Don’t know how you can do it, frankly. Me? I can’t do without breakfast. No breakfast and I can’t do up shirt buttons, I squeeze Heel Balm onto my toothbrush and drive into oncoming traffic. I have a court order to eat breakfast by 7.30 am or face serving jail time.

You, of course, may be able to get away with it. Can I suggest that you at least have a banana, a yogurt or one of those breakfast drinks as you leave the house? With some glucose racing through your arteries you will make better decisions. Then, when you do feel hungry, eat smart, like choose a sandwich, fruit or a smoothie and not scarf some eye-level, salty, extruded snack from the vending machine. Just the term “extruded snack” should put you off.

What does it all mean?
It means what it has always meaned. Clever people eat breakfast and breakfast eating makes you clever. The evidence is pretty over-whelming.

There are plenty of choices to kick-start the day – breakfast cereals or muesli with milk, topped with nuts or a banana (my choice), wholegrain toast with peanut butter, poached eggs and mushrooms on toast, yogurt and canned fruit and you can think of more. If you buy your breakfast look beyond the cappuccino and croissant because you are worth a lot more than that. A lot more.

Selected references:

  • O’Dea JA, Mugridge AC. Nutritional quality of breakfast and physical activity independently predict the literacy and numeracy scores of children after adjusting for socioeconomic status. Health Education Research 2012; 27 (6): 975-985
    • Hoyland A, Dye L, Lawton CL. A systematic review of the effect of breakfast on the cognitive performance of children and adolescents. Nutrition Research Reviews 2009; 22: 220-243
    • Astbury NM, Taylor MA, Macdonald IA. Breakfast consumption affects appetite, energy intake, and the metabolic and endocrine responses to foods consumed later in the day in male habitual breakfast eaters. The Journal of Nutrition 2011; 141: 1381-1389

281117 Breakfast Power by Glenn Cardwell, part 1

281117 Breakfast Power by Glenn Cardwell

I have communicated with and known Glenn for over 6 years now. He offers excellent advice and recommendations for healthy eating in an easily understood and  simple to follow manner. Danny M. O’Dell

Breakfast
Not long ago I was asked to review the science on the benefits of breakfast for a cereal company. Although it is a common truism that “breakfast is good for you” I wanted to know if it remains good advice. So I plunged into 30+ research papers to see what was agreed about the first meal of the day. Here is what I learned.

Leaner
Breakfast eaters are less likely to be chubby. And it doesn’t matter if you are at primary school, university or calling the shots from head office. That might be all you need to know to reach for the cereal bowl. So, why are breakfasters likely to be leaner? You can probably take a good logical guess at that yourself.

Breakfast eaters are more likely to be active and eat a decent diet for the rest of the day. No surprise there. If you are fit, you get more hungry and can’t bypass breakfast. It may also be that eating soon after arising helps regulate your appetite control hormones, normalise your blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity. There is some evidence that a long fast leads to higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that may stimulate hunger and overeating.

Lifelong benefits
Breakfast doesn’t just pay dividends in the morning; it seems to give a good return on investment at the back end of life too. Breakfast skippers have a higher total cholesterol, higher LDL cholesterol (the evil one), an extra 5 cm (2 inches) of belt leather needed and, in one US study, a 21% greater risk of type 2 diabetes.

Smarter
It seems that with breakfast, you are more likely to meet your nutrient needs for the day. This may be because most breakfast choices are nutritious. Many breakfast cereals are fortified with nutrients like iron and folate. Milk or yogurt adds calcium and riboflavin. Add fruit or nuts and there is vitamin C, potassium, fibre, and on it goes. Miss breakfast and those two biscuits with coffee at morning tea don’t exactly make up the loss.