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The Wrong Eating Habits Can Hurt Your Brain, Not Just Your Waistline

Memory problems

Obese people find it more difficult to pick apart spatial, item, and temporal memory, as well as the ability to integrate them.

If you're obese, you might be up to 20 percent more likely not to remember where you put your keys.

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The Wrong Eating Habits Can Hurt Your Brain, Not Just Your Waistline

The Wrong Eating Habits Can Hurt Your Brain, Not Just Your Waistline

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/12/30/506433671/the-wrong-eating-habits-can-hurt-your-brain-not-just-your-waistline

npr.org

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Key Ideas

Being overweight affects the brain

A diet high in saturated fats and sugars affects your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. It also affects the parts of the brain that are important to memory.

  • A 2015 study found obese children performed worse on memory tasks than children who weren't overweight.
  • Another study found obese people have less white matter in their brains than their lean peers - as if their brains were ten years older.
  • A recent study supports one prominent theory that high body mass is linked to inflammation, which affects the brain.

Memory problems

Obese people find it more difficult to pick apart spatial, item, and temporal memory, as well as the ability to integrate them.

If you're obese, you might be up to 20 percent more likely not to remember where you put your keys.

Changing eating habits

The diet of obese people degrades their memory and makes them more likely to overeat, a study revealed.

Making a meal more memorable may help to eat less bad stuff. If you watch TV while you eat, you'll eat more than planned.

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Reward Response

For many people eating a little sugar stimulates a craving for more. Sugar can lead to intense feelings of hunger.

Sugar has addiction-like effects in the reward center of the brain, cau...

Sugar Addiction

Sweet foods can be more addictive than cocaine, one study found.

Over time, greater amounts of the substance are required to reach the same level of reward.

Memory

Even a single occasion of increased glucose levels in the blood can harm your brain. It can impair your memory and attention.

High sugar consumption causes inflammation in the brain. But, it can be reversed by following a low-sugar, low-GI diet.

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Sugar creates intense cravings

Sugar activates the brain's reward system that releases feel-good hormones. Too much sugar too frequently will hijack this reward system and will cause a loss of control, cravings and increased tol...

Sugar slows the brain down

A diet high in sugar makes learning difficult by slowing the brain down. Overconsumption of sugar damages synaptic activity in the brain.

When you consume too much sugar, you could develop resistance to insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating the function of brain cells. 

The sugar crash

When you eat too much sugar, your blood sugar levels peak and drop. This causes you to experience irritability, mood swings, brain fog, and fatigue. You may find yourself feeling anxious or depressed. Carb-laden foods create the same response.

Chronically high blood sugar levels are linked to inflammation in the brain, which may be a cause of depression.

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Never stop learning

Research shows that people with more education have a greater cognitive reserve and this works as a protection in the face of mental decline.

But there's a twist to it: educated people t...

Crosswords

Cognitive activities like crossword puzzles, reading or playing music may delay memory decline among people who eventually developed dementia.

Stereotype threat

It happens when a person is in a situation where they are anxious that they may conform to a negative stereotype aimed at his or her social group.

Positive stereotypes, or success on previous memory tasks, can help combat this negativity. 

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Your metabolism

It is in every cell in your body. It refers to a series of chemical processes in each cell that turn the calories you eat into fuel to keep you alive.

The body's major organs — th...

How we burn energy

There are 3 main ways:

  • the basal metabolism, the energy used for your body's basic functioning while at rest
  • the energy used to break down food (also known as the thermic effect of food)
  • the energy used in physical activity.

Most of the energy you burn is from your resting metabolism.

Metabolism variations

Metabolism can vary a lot between people, and researchers don't understand why.

2 people with the same size and body composition can have different metabolic rates. One can consume a huge meal and gain no weight, while the other has to carefully count calories to not gain weight.

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The art of eating
The art of eating

... is a question of psychology as much as nutrition. We have to find a way to want to eat what’s good for us.

We make frequent attempts – more or less half-hearted – to change what we...

Food preferences are learned

All the foods that you regularly eat are ones that you learned to eat.  Everyone starts life drinking milk. After that, it’s all up for grabs. 

But in today’s food culture, many people seem to have acquired uncannily homogenous tastes: food companies push foods high in sugar, fat and salt, which means we are innately incapable of resisting them but that the more frequently we eat them, especially in childhood, the more they train us to expect all food to taste this way.

0.3% of young women are anorexic

... and another 1% are bulimic, with rising numbers of men joining them.

What statistics are not particularly effective at telling us is how many others – whether overweight or underweight – are in a perpetual state of anxiety about what they consume, living in fear of carbs or fat grams and unable to derive straightforward enjoyment from meals.

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Dopamine Explained

We all seek happiness, and there is a scientific way we can find it.

Dopamine, the feel-good chemical in our brains, positively affects our mood, focus, energy and behaviour.

Happiness Centre: Dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls our brain's reward and pleasure centre. It can help us:

  • Lose Weight
  • Fight against Depression
  • Be Motivated
  • Improve our Memory
  • Feel Happy
  • Stay mentally strong
  • Reduce bad habits
  • Increase Feelings of contentment
How Dopamine Works

The body and mind seek pleasureable experiences, resulting in the neurons creating dopamine in our brain. This can be also overdone using drugs, leaving a negative impact eventually.

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Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are found in fiber and starch and are beneficial for brain health as they release glucose slowly into our system, helping stabilize our mood. Simple carbohydr...

Antioxidants

Our cells generate energy through oxidation, but oxidation also reduces the dopamine and serotonin in the brain and creates oxidative stress.

Antioxidants found in brightly colored foods like fruits and vegetables act as a defense against oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain and body. Antioxidants also repair oxidative damage and scavenge free radicals that cause cell damage in the brain. 

Omega 3

Omega 3 are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are involved in the process of converting food into energy. They are important for the health of the brain and the communication of its feel-good chemicals dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.

Omega 3 are essential nutrients that are not readily produced by the body, so we must include foods high on it in our diet. 

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How depression is measured

Depression is often measured by scientists using something called the Hamilton Scale. It runs from 0 (where you are dancing in ecstasy) to 59 (where you are suicidal). 

Causes of depression

Many leading scientists believe the whole idea that depression is caused by a “chemically imbalanced” brain is wrong. 

There are in fact nine major causes of depression and anxiety that are unfolding all around us. Two are biological, and seven are out in here in the world, rather than sealed away inside our skulls.

Childhood trauma can cause depression

When you’re a child, you have very little power to change your environment. So, you have two choices.

  1. You can admit to yourself that you are powerless and there’s simply nothing you can do about it.
  2. You can tell yourself it’s your fault and at some strange level under your control. If you were responsible for being hurt, then at some level, you have to think you deserved it.

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Protein Intake
Protein Intake

Protein intake is considered a no-brainer. As obesity rates have doubled over the last 20 years, this is what we have been told to eat. It is common knowledge that we have to avoid sugar, refined o...

Protein is Essential

A high-protein diet is essential for us to help our body grow and repair. We have been told to eat approximately 55 gm of protein daily for males, and 45 gm for females, based on average weights.

Not eating enough of protein can also have side effects like hair loss.

Health Fad

The protein supplement market had a valuation of USD 12.4 billion in 2016.

The way protein is packed in everything from candy bars to ‘high protein’ versions of staple products, it is becoming clear that it is an ongoing health fad. Many experts believe that products with ‘inflated protein’ are a waste of money.

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Metabolism

It refers to the thousands of chemical reactions that turn what we eat and drink into fuel in every cell of the body. These reactions change in response to our environments and behaviors, an...

How The Body Uses Calories
  • Basal metabolism is the energy our body needs to keep our cells working and accounts for 65-80% of most adults' caloric consumption.
  • The thermic effect of food is the energy our body uses to process food and accounts for 10% of most adults' caloric consumption.
  • Physical activity accounts for 10 - 30 % of most people’s caloric consumption .
Controlling Your Own Weight

Not everyone overeats and becomes overweight, and not everyone who becomes overweight or obese develops illnesses like diabetes or heart disease. 

There was never a special diet, exercise regimen, or supplement that worked universally to control weight. Through trial and error, we have to discover habits and routines we can stick with that help us eat less and move more. 

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