The Science Behind Ice Cream Addiction

Most of you can look at this picture of an ice cream sundae, appreciate it’s creamy goodness and move on with the rest of the article.

However, for an unlucky minority, just the very sight of this frozen delight is enough to set off a powerful dopamine response in their brain – leading to a burst of neuro-chemical happiness and an almost irresistible desire to find the nearest ice cream parlor.

For those people, the mental association between this picture of an ice cream sundae and the real thing is so powerful (due to the dopamine), that they can already imagine the pleasure they will receive as they dive into that giant bowl of ice creamy goodness….leading to an actual ice cream addiction…or potato chip addiction…or candy addiction…or chocolate addiction…

And, considering we live in a world where ice cream sundaes aren’t hard to come by, a large percentage of those dopamine-flooded individuals are going to indulge in a bowl or two.

And it’s not just ice cream.

Scientists believe that this study points the way to figuring out why some people are more strongly motivated by environmental cues and therefore at a greater risk of compulsive/addictive behavior.

And it’s not just over-eating…this research could apply to all manner of addictions – food, drugs, sex, danger, my blog, etc…

Reference

Is Your Brain Hardwired to Make You Fat?

In a recent study, researchers have found that “obese prone” (aka chubby) individuals are more likely to have lower gray matter volume in the insula, medial orbitofrontal cortex and cerebellum than those individuals who describe themselves as “obese resistant” (aka skinny).

Looking specifically at the insula region of the brain, the researchers found that insula gray matter volume was negatively correlated with leptin concentration..

And as we know from a bunch of studies, low leptin levels are associated with increased feelings of hunger and the consumption of massive quantities of nacho chips.

This research dovetails nicely with previous research linking the insula region of the brain to addictive cravings – cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, etc. So, it’s not too surprising that it’s linked to over-eating as well.

Conclusions

The Researchers – “These findings suggest that individuals at risk for weight gain have structural differences in brain regions known to be important in energy intake regulation, and that these differences, particularly in the insula, may be related to leptin”.

MineSo what!!! Genetic causes are irrelevant to everyone except for the scientists looking for a “cure”. If your brain structure makes you prone to overeating and obesity, that’s just your (and my) bad luck. Unless you’re a neurosurgeon willing to operate on yourself, the structure of your insula is pretty much set.

Start eating & moving smarter.

Reference

Egg-Crepe health food nutrition healthhabits

Protein at Breakfast Reduces Hunger & Prevents Overeating

Research shows that eating a protein rich breakfast increases satiety and reduces hunger throughout the day.

And for those of us who are prone to the mid-afternoon munchies, this is very, very good news.

The Study

For three weeks, a group of adolescent girls (Age: 15 ± 1 years) with a high BMI (93rd percentile ± 1%) and a habit of skipping breakfast (5 ± 1×/week) either…

  • continued to skip breakfast (BS)
  • or consumed 500-calorie “normal protein” breakfast meals (NP) consisting of cereal and milk
  • or 500-calorie higher protein meals (HP) consisting of Belgium waffles, syrup and yogurt.

At the end of each week, the girls returned to the lab to eat their respective breakfast followed by:

  • appetite questionnaires and
  • an fMRI brain scan to identify brain activation responses to viewing food vs. nonfood images prior to lunch.

The Results

Compared to skipping breakfast (BS), both breakfast meals (NP & HP) led to increased satiety and reductions in hunger throughout the morning (3 hrs post breakfast).

The fMRI results showed that brain activation in regions controlling food motivation and reward was reduced prior to lunch time when breakfast was consumed in the morning.

Additionally, eating protein at breakfast led to even greater changes in appetite, satiety and reward-driven eating behaviour compared to the normal protein breakfast.

Conclusion

The researchers concluded that a protein-rich breakfast might be an effective strategy to improve appetite control and prevent overeating in young people.

And aside from the fact that I take issue with their description of their HP breakfast – Belgium waffles, syrup and yogurt – as being high protein, I have to agree.

NOTE – Some of my previous articles – The Big Breakfast DietWeight Loss & Breakfast: Eggs are Better – have shown that skipping breakfast can be a very bad idea.

Reference

The Dreaded Kraft Dinner Hangover

I did something really stupid yesterday.

It was just one of those days where I was:

  • short on time
  • running low on healthy food
  • hungry as a bear
  • and in a bad mood (crappy day, don’t even ask)

As a result of my crappy day, my stress levels were sky high and my serotonin levels were down in the dumps.

As a result of that, I began to have a wicked craving for carbs and was experiencing a generally crappy mood which also caused a craving for a great big dietary hug from Mom.

So, in a moment of emotional weakness, I ripped open a dusty old box of Kraft Dinner from the pantry.

And I ate that glow in the dark orange, mushy, creamy, full of chemicals, pasta slop.

And I loved every spoon/shovelful.

Unfortunately, for the rest of the evening I was craving carbs like a heroin junkie craves heroin.

And this morning, I woke up with everything aching…my head, my back, my muscles feel stiff and sore and I am still craving carbs and feeling generally like crap.

So, what did I do to get rid of my Kraft Dinner hangover?

  1. Exercise – at 4:30 this morn, I woke up and did 30 minutes of joint mobility and muscle flexibility exercises. Nothing too intense – just working the stiffness out of my body
  2. While exercising, I drank a serving of Athletic Greens
  3. I also choked down a Vitamin B Complex pill and another herbal adaptogen product to help get my hormones back in order.

The result:

At 6:30 this morning, I started writing this post and…

  • my headache is gone,
  • my craving for carbs is 82% gone,
  • my muscles feel normal – not optimal, but okay.

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Overall, I feel 91% less crappy and ready to go train another 6 clients.

Conclusion

Just Say No to Kraft Dinner

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Your brain on meditation

Your brain on meditation
Your brain on meditation

We all have stress in our lives.

Job stress, school stress, family stress, economic stress, the stress of your daily commute, etc…

And how we deal with that stress can have a huge impact on our health.

Some of us direct that stress outward.

johnny cash finger

While others turn it back onto ourselves.

stress relief

Well, today’s post is for those self-flagellators who tend to beat themselves up with all of life’s little stresses.

According to a new study, with just 5 days of practice, test subjects learned how to perform IBMT ( integrated body-mind techniques) and were able to:

  • Reduce their levels of cortisol – the stress hormone
  • Improve blood flow and electrical activity in their brains
  • Improve their quality of breathing
  • Reduce their levels of anxiety
  • Reduce their levels of depression
  • Reduce their levels of anger
  • Reduce their levels of fatigue, and
  • “create a state of ah, much like in the morning opening your eyes, looking outside the grass and sunshine, you feel relaxed, calm and refresh without any stress”

christy-turlington-meditation

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So, what is IBMT?

IBMT is a combination of several body–mind techniques including:

  1. body relaxation,
  2. breath adjustment,
  3. mental imagery, and
  4. mindfulness training, accompanied with selected music background.

In the study, subjects followed an instructional compact disc with body posture adjustment, breathing practice, guided imagery, and mindfulness training accompanied by a music background.

The sessions lasted 20 minutes each day for 5 days.

20 minutes x 5 days?

Hmmmm

Where do I sign up?

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If you like what you see here, click here for updates


For all of you super-geeks, here is a pdf copy of the complete study.

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Related Posts

Reference

Say bye-bye to stress

We all have stress in our lives. Job stress, school stress, family stress, economic stress, the stress of your daily commute, etc…

And how we deal with that stress can have a huge impact on our health.

Some of us direct that stress outward.

johnny cash finger

While others turn it back onto ourselves.

stress relief

Well, today’s post is for those self-flagellators who tend to beat themselves up with all of life’s little stresses.

According to a new study, with just 5 days of practice, test subjects learned how to perform IBMT ( integrated body-mind techniques) and were able to:

Your brain on meditation
Your brain on meditation
  • Reduce their levels of cortisol – the stress hormone
  • Improve blood flow and electrical activity in their brains
  • Improve their quality of breathing
  • Reduce their levels of anxiety
  • Reduce their levels of depression
  • Reduce their levels of anger
  • Reduce their levels of fatigue, and
  • “create a state of ah, much like in the morning opening your eyes, looking outside the grass and sunshine, you feel relaxed, calm and refresh without any stress”

christy-turlington-meditation

So, what is IBMT?

IBMT is a combination of several body–mind techniques including:

  1. body relaxation,
  2. breath adjustment,
  3. mental imagery, and
  4. mindfulness training, accompanied with selected music background.

In the study, subjects followed an instructional compact disc with body posture adjustment, breathing practice, guided imagery, and mindfulness training accompanied by a music background.

The sessions lasted 20 minutes each day for 5 days. Which is a pretty minor time commitment…to make yourself HAPPY.

For all of you super-geeks, here is a pdf copy of the complete study.Say bye-bye to 

Reference

Binge Eating: Is Your Brain Making You Fat?

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered that “overeating throws critical portions of the brain out of whack, leading to a malfunctioning hypothalamus, metabolic inflammation, insulin resistance, leptin resistance, obesity and type 2 diabetes”.

The study, published in the October 3 issue of Cell, attempts to expand on previous research which showed that over-nutrition is associated with chronic inflammation in metabolic tissues.

Specifically, they wanted to see whether metabolic inflammation compromises the brain’s metabolic regulatory systems and therefore promotes over-nutrition associated diseases.

Translation:

They wanted to see if a trip to the “All You Can Eat Buffet” would mess with your brain, causing an impaired metabolism and increased obesity.

The Results:

A trip to the “All You Can Eat Buffet” will mess with your brain, causing an impaired metabolism and increased obesity.

The Details:

There is a substance in your brain called IKKβ/NF-κB.

IKKβ/NF-κB is a mediator of metabolic inflammation. Most of the time, it just sits there, inactive.

However, a single session of overeating activates the IKKβ/NF-κB found in your hypothalamus.

Once activated, the IKKβ/NF-κB increases inflammation in your metabolic pathways and interrupts the normal signaling of the obesity regulation hormones, leptin and insulin.

When this happens over and over and over again, your body becomes resistant to insulin and leptin.

And you become fat.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the increased obesity leads to even more inflammation. Which leads to more leptin / insulin resistance and so on and so on.

This all results in quite the little vicious circle of inflammation, hormone resistance and obesity.

Conclusion

The researchers have concluded that “their findings could lead to treatments that might stop this cycle before it gets started”.

If they can inhibit the IKKβ/NF-κB pathway in the hypothalamus, they may be able to eliminate the inflammatory response to over-eating and the resultant hormone resistance and obesity.

They also noted that “if realized, such a strategy would likely offer a safe approach given that the critical pathway appears to be unnecessary in the hypothalamus under normal circumstances.”

APPEARS TO BE UNNECESSARY

Hmmmm, I don’t know about you, but being told that part of my hypothalamus “appears to be unnecessary” doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

Instead, I think that I will just skip that second trip to the trough…errr…buffet table and avoid the entire problem altogether.

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If you like what you see here, click here for updates or Share this Post with the rest of the world.

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Related Posts

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References:

EurekaAlert

Cell