It has long been known that there is an association between food and pain, as people with chronic pain often struggle with their weight. Researchers at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience may have found an explanation in a new study that suggests that circuitry in the brain responsible for motivation and pleasure is impacted when someone experiences pain. “These findings may reveal new physiological mechanisms linking chronic pain to a change in someone’s eating behavior,” said Paul Geha, M.D., lead author on the study published in PLOS ONE. “And this change can lead to the development of obesity.”
Finding pleasure in food comes from how our brain responds to what we are eating. In this study researchers were looking at the brain’s response to sugar and fat. Using a gelatin dessert and pudding researchers altered the sugar, fat, and texture of the foods. They found that none of the patients experienced eating behavior changes with sugar, but they did with fat. Those with acute lower back pain who later recovered were most likely to lose pleasure in eating the pudding and show disrupted satiety signals – the communication from the digestive system to the brain – while those with acute lower back pain whose pain persisted at one year did not initially have the same change in their eating behavior. But chronic lower back pain patients did report that eventually foods high in fat and carbohydrates, like ice cream and cookies, became problematic for them over time and brain scans showed disrupted satiety signals.
New research has found that changes in body fat impact early markers of heart health more than changes in body muscle, suggesting there are greater benefits to be expected from losing fat than from gaining muscle.
The observational study, led by researchers from the University of Bristol, was published in PLoS Medicine.
More than 3,200 young people in Bristol’s Children of the 90s birth cohort study were measured repeatedly for levels of body fat and lean mass using a body scanning device. These scans were performed four times across participants’ lives, when they were children, adolescents, and young adults (at ages 10, 13, 18, and 25 years). Handgrip strength was also tested when they were aged 12 and 25 years.
When the participants were 25 years old, blood samples were collected and a technique called “metabolomics” was used to measure over 200 detailed markers of metabolism including different types of harmful cholesterol, glucose, and inflammation, which together indicate one’s susceptibility to developing heart disease and other health conditions.
Dr. Joshua Bell, senior research associate in epidemiology and lead author of the report, said: “We knew that fat gain is harmful for health, but we didn’t know whether gaining muscle could really improve health and help prevent heart disease. We wanted to put those benefits in context.”
The findings showed that gaining fat mass was strongly and consistently related to poorer metabolic health in young adulthood, as indicated, for example, by higher levels of harmful cholesterol. These effects were much larger (often about 5-times larger) than any beneficial effect of gaining muscle. Where there were benefits of gaining muscle, these were specific to gains that had occurred in adolescence – suggesting that this early stage of life is a key window for promoting muscle gain and reaping its benefits.
Dr. Bell added: “Fat loss is difficult, but that does seem to be where the greatest health benefits lie. We need to double down on preventing fat gain and supporting people in losing fat and keeping it off.
“We absolutely still encourage exercise – there are many other health benefits and strength is a prize in itself. We may just need to temper expectations for what gaining muscle can really do for avoiding heart disease – fat gain is the real driver.”
The study also found that improving strength (based on handgrip) has slightly greater benefits for markers of heart health than gaining muscle itself, suggesting that the frequent use of muscle, rather than the bulking up of muscle, may matter more.
Professor Nic Timpson, the Principal Investigator of the Children of the 90s and one of the study’s authors, said: “This research provides greater clarity in the relative roles of fat and lean mass in the basis of cardio-metabolic disease. This is an important finding and clearly part of a complex picture of health that involves weight gain, but also the other indirect costs and benefits of different types of lifestyle. It is only through detailed, longitudinal, studies like Children of the 90s that these relationships can be uncovered. We extend our thanks to the participants of the Children of the 90s who make all of this work possible.”
Fat is fat, right? Well, no. There is more than one kind of fat.
Visceral fat is stored in a person’s abdominal cavity and is also known as ‘active fat’ as it influences how hormones function in the body. An excess of visceral fat can, therefore, have potentially dangerous consequences. Because visceral fat is in the abdominal cavity, it is close to many vital organs, such as the pancreas, liver, and intestines.
The higher the amount of visceral fat a person stores, the more at risk they are for certain health complications, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Regular readers know that I am a big fan of walking. I call it the Cinderella of the exercise world because it is so unappreciated. If you want to learn a lot more about the benefits of walking – after you watch this less than five minute video – check out my Page – Why you should walk more.
Back in 2010 when I started writing this blog, it was all about gaining and losing weight. Since then the focus has broadened out to general good health, exercising and keeping one’s brain functioning. Nonetheless, I thought this study on fat and weight gain worth reporting.
Scientists from the University of Aberdeen and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have undertaken the largest study of its kind looking at what components of diet – fat, carbohydrates or protein – caused mice to gain weight.
Since food consists of fat, protein and carbs, it has proven difficult to pinpoint exactly what aspect of the typical diet leads to weight gain.
The mice were fed these diets for three months, which is equivalent to nine years in humans. In total over 100,000 measurements were made of body weight changes and their body fat was measured using a micro MRI machine. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
I had misgivings about carrying this item because I think the idea is total health and a long life, not superficial quick fixes. But this seems a fascinating concept and it originated from my old Alma Mater (in a sense) – Northwestern University. I taught journalism in the grad school there for a couple of years. Eat less; move more; live longer remains the mantra of this blog.
While the technique is safe it needs to be optimized for longer-lasting results.
Marla Paul, writing in Northwestern Now, reported the following:
The first randomized, controlled trial testing carbon dioxide gas injections (carboxytherapy) to reduce belly fat found the new technique eliminates fat around the stomach. However, the changes were modest and did not result in long-term fat reduction, according to the Northwestern Medicine study.
“Carboxytherapy could potentially be a new and effective means of fat reduction,” said lead author Dr. Murad Alam, vice chair of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine physician. “It still needs to be optimized, though, so it’s long lasting.” Continue reading →
I have written about snacks and snacking numerous times. You can check out my Page Snacking – the good, the bad and the ugly if you want more details. Herewith The Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter take on the subject.
Make sure you’re properly fueled for a workout, but avoid mindless snacking.
If you start exercise low on fuel, you could end up feeling weak and run out of steam. Or, you may simply feel hungry, making it hard to focus on your exercise. However, unnecessary snacking before a workout may make exercise uncomfortable and add calories you don’t need, counteracting the calorie burn of your physical activity.
What you’re already eating for meals and snacks likely covers your exercise energy needs.
“I think there’s a misconception that you need to eat a snack before exercise, but this is generally only necessary if it’s been at least 2 to 3 hours since your last meal,” says Jennifer Sacheck, PhD, an associate professor at Tufts’ Friedman School who specializes in physical activity research. “For example, if you eat lunch at 11 a.m. and are going to the gym at 5 p.m., or you exercise first thing in the morning, you’ll need to refuel before exercise.” However, if you ate a late lunch at 2 p.m., and you’re working out at 4:30 p.m., you shouldn’t need a snack first. Continue reading →
I have posted on the nutritional value of the avocado a number of times. I wanted to run this as a refresher and also I thought it was beautiful. Sometimes folks are doubtful about avocados because they have fat, but it happens to be a very valuable fat that our bodies like.
Herewith a wonderful write up on Metabolic Syndrome, a medical condition that sadly seems to be gaining in popularity. Dr. Jonathan gives a superb explanation of it and what you can do to avoid succumbing to it.
The diagnosis metabolic syndrome dates back to the 1950’s. It became more popular around the late 1970’s when the low fat diets first became popular. Today, it is a diagnosis used regularly to define an ever growing percentage of our population. We doctors make it sound like a “disease” requiring our intervention to overcome this life threatening syndrome. In reality, it is a state of dysfunction caused PRIMARILY by the consumer.
What is Metabolic Syndrome? It is a state of diminishing health based on an individual diagnosed with any three of the following five conditions:
elevated blood pressure (≥ 130/85mmHg)
elevated fasting blood sugar (≥100mg/dL)
excess body fat around the waste (abdominal obesity >35 inches in women and >40 inches in men)
HDL cholesterol ≤40 mg/dL for men or 50 mg/dL for women
elevated triglycerides (≥150 mg/dL)
In real numbers, these conditions exist in the United States population as follows:
The aim of this blog is not to simply lose weight. It is to live a healthy, happy and long life and to have all our mental faculties functional till the end. I am including this infographic because it has a lot of good information on those very things – as well as losing weight.
Mr. Lazy Cook is at it again. What to do with left over white meat from a delicious Costco rotisserie chicken? Also, it is the middle of a heat wave over much of the country, and certainly here in Chicago. That isn’t conducive to spending a lot of time preparing meals.
It happens that I have on hand a large amount of previously cooked barley. I have mentioned in previous lazy cookery posts that I like to work ahead by precooking several day’s to a week’s worth of one dish that I can then mix and match to create simple and fast meals.
When I precook the barley, I don’t use plain water any more. I use chicken broth that comes in cartons. This also happens to be a Costco ingredient. Six quart cartons cost less than $10. The bottom line is that the barley is quite tasty cooked this…
The usually reliable WebMD has a very nice quiz on fat that I recommend you take. It’s fun and can fill you in on some aspects of body fat that most folks don’t understand.
Having said that, I would like to take exception to the final question in the quiz which asks which BMI category is healthier? Anything below obese; The low end of normal; Anything in the normal range.
I wish we would do away with the BMI as a tool in evaluating fitness, health, fatness, you name it.
First of all, a lot of people think it tells them their percentage of body fat. It doesn’t. A person’s BMI is calculated as her weight in kilograms divided by her height in meters, squared.
It is an index, not a body fat measurement.
The readings are as follows: Underweight: less than 18.5; normal weight 18.5 – 24.9; overweight…
Here is another super infographic where one picture is worth a thousand words.
NaturalNews says that avocados boost health in at least five ways:
1. Protein “Avocados provide all 18 essential amino acids necessary for the body to form a complete protein. Unlike the protein in steak, which is difficult for most people to digest, avocado protein is readily absorbed by the body because avocados also contain fiber. If you are trying to cut down on animal sources of protein in your diet, or if you are a vegetarian, vegan or raw foodist seeking more protein, avocados are a great nutritional ally to include not merely as an occasional treat, but as a regular part of your diet.”
I thought there were some good ideas here on general health and well-being, not just losing weight, or fat.
I especially liked the fact that he mentioned getting a good night’s sleep. This is definitely one of the under-appreciated aspects of good health. To read more on it, check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep?
Here I was, sitting on my lazy butt eating because I had no set diet plan for the day. You get lazy, you eat crappy, it’s a cycle and you don’t even notice it.
So do you want to get fit? Do you want to lose that extra fat that makes you sick? Take these five tips seriously.
1. Cardio on an empty stomach upon waking up. It can be difficult but try doing it right when u wake up, before hunger strikes. It’s a great fat burner as it targets directly your body fat as opposed to the carbohydrates and foods you have just consumed.
2. Avoid Carbs after 6pm. Your body just can’t lose that and it will simply store into fat.
3. Focus on weight training, if you think pure cardio will lose that belly or lose that fat you are wrong. Your body Works the most…