Brain scans shows stress can sabotage your diet

As anyone who has ever downed a litre of ice cream after a bad day at the office knows, the stresses of everyday life can sabotage self-control when it comes to diet. But why?

When people are under stress, even at modest levels, tasty food wins out over healthier options because the brain’s signal for taste is “louder” than the intention to eat healthy, according to a new study published in the journal Neuron.

The small neuroscience study of 51 people asked them to choose between foods while they had fMRI brain scans, to see how the decision-making process affected their brains.

Participants were chosen because they expressed interest in maintaining a healthy lifestyle but admitted they sometimes made unhealthy food choices. Researchers aimed to assess how moderate levels of stress, like those encountered in daily life, would affect what people choose to eat, especially when the options were real and not hypothetical; the participants had to eat one of the foods they selected following the test.

Researchers approached the study with the idea that a delicious but less healthy food was an immediate reward, whereas a healthier food is a long-term reward because while it may not be as enjoyable to eat now, it benefits lifetime wellness.

Before they began, the participants were asked to rank the foods as tasty or healthy so that researchers knew their individual taste preferences and could make contrasting pairs based on those rankings.

Then participants were split into two groups: 29 of them were put under the mild stress of having to submerge their hand in an ice-water bath while being videotaped in the lab before the test; the other 22 were the control group.

Brain activity was monitored in an fMRI machine while participants were shown pairs of pictures of different foods and asked to choose between them. In some cases, the healthier food was outlined in a white frame to indicate that it was “recommended,” to see if participants would be more likely to choose it.

fMRI image shows areas of the ventral striatum (upper) and amygdala (lower). Stressed participants’ food choices were more affected by short-term taste reward and they encoded taste more strongly in portions of the amygdala and ventral striatum.

The fMRI images showed three different regions of the brain were activated and the relationships between the regions changed during the time participants had to select foods.

Those who experienced the stress of the ice-water bath went for the tasty food choices more often than healthy ones, especially when the difference between the foods was greatest.

“Stress participants are struggling most and are most likely to fail when their temptation gets really, really high in terms of taste,” said Maier. “If two items are rather close together in terms of taste, then they would rather go with the healthier one.”

Current theories connect cortisol, a hormone which increases with stress, to the problem of stress eating. In this study, it showed only a partial link to food choices for people who were part of the stress group.

The way to get around this wiring for choosing what tastes good over what’s healthier, is planning. If you know you have a stressful day and you come home, sooner or later you will make the trip to your kitchen cupboard and get that snack. Instead, you can just not buy it in the first place and not tempt yourself.

Reference:

Maier, S. U., et al., Acute Stress Impairs Self-Control in Goal-Directed Choice by Altering Multiple Functional Connections within the Brain’s Decision Circuits. Neuron, 2015. 87 (3): p. 621-31.



The benefits of inflavonoid intensive care

Inflavonoid Intensive Care is a unique formula to relieve acute inflammation, developed after long studies and research by a team of health care experts which includes scientists, researchers, and naturopaths.

Inflammation is characterised by pain, heat and swelling.

Positive benefits of controlling chronic inflammation:

  • Digestive health
  • Improved immobility
  • Reducing pain caused by arthritis
  • Improved health and vitality

Positive outcomes of Inflavonoid Intensive Care:

  • As affective as NSAIDs
  • Gut friendly
  • Liver friendly
  • Safe for long term use

The ingredients in Inflavonoid Intensive Care work at various points within the inflammatory cascade to decrease inflammation and pain via the following:

  • Boswellia prevents 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX).
  • White willow bark prevents prostaglandin synthesis by inhibiting cyclo-oxygenase (COX-2) mediated prostaglandin release shown in vitro.
  • Ginger suppresses prostaglandin synthesis through inhibition of COX and LOX.
  • Quercetin prevents the activation of NF-ƙB demonstrated in vitro studies.
  • Volatile oils, naturally found in BCM-95™ Turmeric, contribute to its effect.

These oils show antiinflammatory activity with ability to stick to the nuclear receptor, perisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ), prevent prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production and prevent inducible nitric oxide production during the inflammation process. To maximise the benefits of Inflavonoid Intensive Care, a unique extract of boswellia, turmeric, and ginger are added.

Inflavonoid Intensive Care is for people who experience strain, a high work load or stress, inflammation and pain. Taking Inflavonoid Intensive Care daily will reduce inflammation and pain. It can also help to boost energy and help following intense exercise or “weekended warrior syndrome”.

Free from animal products, dairy protein, lactose, eggs, gluten, wheat, yeast, soy, salt, artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.



Five exercises to help avoid back pain from sitting

At this point, everyone knows sitting all day isn’t good for your health. But all kinds of jobs still require people to sit for prolonged periods of time.

You don’t have to put up with stiffness and back pain from sitting. Over time that pain can affect your ability to run, play sports, and exercise and negatively impact your health.

Glute Bridges

Lay down on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Next raise your butt and hips so that your body forms a straight line. Then lower yourself back down. That’s one rep. You should try to do three sets of ten. If that’s too easy, you can add a weight and hold it on your thighs while you do the reps. This exercise is great for your hips and glutes, and as an added bonus, your abs!

Couch Stretch

Place one leg on the floor, and the other on the couch, so that your knee is touching the back. Then flex your abs and butt and slowly raise your torso up so that you are standing tall. Hold that position for about 1 minute and then switch legs.

To push it to the next level, you can bring your foot on the floor up to the seat of the couch and try to raise your torso to a neutral position again. This will be tough at first, but can potentially undo years of sitting.

Grok Squat

This involves getting into a squatting position with your feet on the floor, your back straight, and your butt about as low as it will go. Think baseball catcher position. You should feel the stretch through your legs, back, and groin.

Leg Swings

It involves holding something for balance and then swinging your leg back and forth as high as it will go. You can start by going front-to-back with each leg, and then side-to-side. Try 20 swings of each kind.

 Fire Hydrants

To do the exercise, get on all fours and raise your leg out to the side as high as you can while keeping it bent. Then lower it down. That’s one rep. You should feel your hips and butt working.

Of course, the best exercise is to walk around every half hour or so, but that’s not always possible. So if you find yourself sitting for hours on end, try to do some, or all, of these exercises a few times a week.



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