Yo-yo dieters’ brains and drug addicts’ brains have similar behaviours

Desperate for another hit?

According to Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) the yo-yo pattern of overeating followed by undereating, reduces the brain’s ability to feel reward.

An estimated 15 million people compulsively eat in the U.S. It is a common feature of obesity and eating disorders, most notably, binge eating disorder. People often overeat because it is pleasurable in the short term, but then attempt to compensate by dieting, reducing calorie intake and limiting themselves to “safe,” less palatable food. However, diets often fail, causing frequent “relapse” to overeating of foods high in fat and sugar (palatable foods).

Desperate for another hit? Or going “cold turkey”?

Yo-Yo dieters’ brains eventually show “drug-addict” like reactions.

“We are just now beginning to understand the addictive-like properties of food and how repeated overconsumption of high sugar — similar to taking drugs — may affect our brains and cause compulsive behaviors,”

Pietro Cottone, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology & experimental therapeutics at BUSM and co-director of the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders.

In the experiment half the people were given a high sugar, chocolate-flavored diet (exciting food) for two days each week. For the remaining days of the week they were given a standard control diet (dull food). Essentially they “yo-yo’ed” between exciting food and dull food.

The other half of the people were given the standard, dull, food all the time.

Yo-yo dieters’ brains became immune to the effects of amphetamines. They needed a “bigger hit” to feel rewarded.

When these people were given amphetamines, (yes, the researchers gave them all drugs – under medical supervision of course!) the amphimines did not have as much effect on the yo-yo dieters as it did on the people who ate the standard, dull diet.

Researchers found that the yo-yo dieters’ brains behaved similar to drugs addicts’, specifically a “crash” in the reward system.

When people become used to eating highly rewarding, sweet foods, when they can no longer get those rewarding foods, they have a similar “downer” to drug addicts who are going cold turkey.

Drug addicts eventually become immune to the “reward feelings” caused by the drug, which leads to drug addicts needing a bigger and bigger “high” every time. Similarly yo-yo dieting, leads to a constant search for a “bigger high” with more rewarding food, after a period of dull, unrewarding standard food.

“Compulsive eating may derive from the reduced ability to feel reward. These findings also provide support to the theory that compulsive eating has similarities to drug addiction.”

The researchers hope these findings spark new avenues of research into compulsive eating that will lead to more effective treatments for obesity and eating disorders.


Source: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191017125240.htm

Photo: Hand reaching for donut by Tijana Drndarski at Pexels.com


When does clean eating become an unhealthy obsession?

When healthy eating becomes an obsession it can become unhealthy
When healthy eating becomes an obsession it can become unhealthy

Although eating healthy is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, for some people this preoccupation with healthy eating can become physically and socially impairing.

When it becomes a pathological obsession with healthy eating or consuming only a limited range of food it is known as known as orthorexia nervosa 

 healthcare providers as well as members of the public should recognise … that so-called healthy eating can, in fact, be unhealthy. It can lead to malnourishment or make it very difficult to socialize with people in settings that involve eating. It can also be expensive and time-consuming.”

Jennifer Mills, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and senior author on the study

“When taken to the extreme, an obsession with clean eating can be a sign that the person is struggling to manage their mental health.”

Previous research has shown that unlike individuals with anorexia nervosa who restrict calories to maintain very low body weight, people who have the condition have a fixation with the quality of food eaten and its preparation rather than the number of calories.

Over time, people with orthorexia nervosa  spend increasing amounts of time and effort purchasing, planning, and preparing pure and healthy meals.

Eventually this planning and obsessing becomes all-consuming that interferes with other areas of life and results in weight loss.

Other eating habits such as being a vegetarian or vegan also put individuals at higher risk for developing orthorexia nervosa. Lacto-vegetarians were at highest risk for developing orthorexia nervosa and people who are on a strict eating schedule, spending large amounts of time preparing meals, were also at greater risk.

“In our research, we found equal rates of men and women who struggle with symptoms of orthorexia nervosa,” said Mills. “We still think of eating disorders as being a problem that affects mostly young women. Because of that assumption, the symptoms and negative consequences of orthorexia nervosa can fly under the radar and not be noticed or taken seriously.”

In short, it’s good to be careful about what you eat.
But also take care about being too careful!


Source: Materials provided by York UniversityNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Photos: Woman slicing vegetables by Retha Ferguson at Pexels.com


Upsetting day? Sleep on it – you’ll feel better

Problems seem small after a good night's sleep

Upset by something unpleasant?

We have all been there.

And we usually find we feel better about the next day.

At least: if you have restful REM sleep.

Stressful and upsetting events trigger a “siren” in out brains, to makes us more aware of potential danger.

Researchers at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience discovered why you will be better able to bear tomorrow what you are distressed about today. And why that can go wrong.

A good night’s sleep, specifically REM sleep, is needed to “reset” this siren in our brains.

The Experiment

The researchers placed their participants in a MRI scanner in the evening and presented a specific odour while they made them feel upset.

The brain scans showed how the amygdala became active.

The participants then spent the night in the sleep lab, while the activity of their sleeping brain was measured with EEG, and the specific odor was presented again on occasion.

The next morning, the researchers tried to upset their volunteers again, in exactly the same way as the night before. But now they did not succeed so well in doing this.

Brain circuits had adapted overnight; the siren of the brain no longer went off. The amygdala responded much less, especially in those who had had a lot of restful REM sleep and where meanwhile exposed to the specific odor.

The finding can be of great importance for about two-thirds of all people with a mental disorder, as both restless REM sleep and a hyperactive amygdala are the hallmarks of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, depression and insomnia.

  • People with PTSD carry their traumatic experience to the next day:
  • People with an anxiety disorder take their greatest fear with them into the next day
  • People with depression carry their despair into the next day
  • People with chronic insomnia hold onto their tension into the next day

Restless sleepers

However, among the participants were also people with restless REM sleep.

Things went surprisingly different for them.

Brain circuits had not adapted well overnight: the siren of the brain continued to sound the next morning.

And while the nocturnal exposure to the odour helped people with restful REM sleep adapt, the people who had restless REM sleep felt worse by being exposed to the odour.

The evidence is that REM sleep helps “reset” some of the active pathways in the brain.

And it is this “resetting” that helps the upsets and anxieties of yesterday, fade away.


Source: https://nin.nl/rem-sleep-silences-siren-brain/

Photo: Megaphone man by Pressmaster from Pexels.com | Bed pug Photo by Burst from Pexels.com


Middle age stress is greater now than in the 1990’s

Stress in middle aged people is greater now than in 1990s

Research shows that the 2010 decade was more stressful for everyone than the 1990’s decade.

No surprises there!

In 2010, at the start of that decade, the impact of the 2008 financial crisis was reaching its peak.

And many countries are still reeling from that shock and from that worldwide crisis.

These days, endless memes and social media would have us believe that millenials are the most stressed. But the research says otherwise.

A team of researchers led by Penn State found that across all ages, there was a slight increase in daily stress in the dacade from 2010 to 2020 compared to the 1990’s. But when researchers restricted the sample to people between the ages of 45 and 64, there was a sharp increase in daily stress.

Everyone is feeling more stressed this past decade, than they were in the 1990’s

But middle aged people – aged 45 to 64 – are feeling it the hardest

“We thought that with the economic uncertainty, life might be more stressful for younger adults. But we didn’t see that.

We saw more stress for people at mid-life. And maybe that’s because they have children who are facing an uncertain job market while also responsible for their own parents.

So it’s this generational squeeze that’s making stress more prevalent for people at mid-life.”

David M. Almeida, professor of human development and family studies at Penn State

More Responsibilities = More Stress

“It may have to do with people at mid-life being responsible for a lot of people,” Almeida said.

“They’re responsible for their children, oftentimes they’re responsible for their parents, and they may also be responsible for employees at work.


Stress makes it difficult for us to plan because it impairs our memory

Read more …

And with that responsibility comes more daily stress, and maybe that’s happening more so now than in the past.”

More News + Social Media = More Stress

Additionally, Almeida said the added stress could partially be due to life “speeding up” due to technological advances. This could be particularly true during stressful times like the coronavirus pandemic, when tuning out the news can seem impossible.

“With people always on their smartphones, they have access to constant news and information that could be overwhelming,” Almeida said.


Source: https://news.psu.edu/story/618484/2020/05/07/research/middle-age-may-be-much-more-stressful-now-1990s

Photo: Greyscale bald middle aged man by Brett Sayles at Pexels.com


The secret to happiness? Contagion! Wait! What? Seriously?

Happiness and contagion go together

Happiness: We All Want More

A Google search for “happiness” produces more than a billion results and is one of the more frequently used search terms.

Happiness is the most common promise made by sales people since the development of consumerism. “Buy this product and you will be happier” is the age old promise of almost every sales pitch and advert.

A study by Harvard Medical School, that looked at nearly 5,000 individuals over a period of 20 years, has revealed a surprising source of happiness.

It’s not any product you can buy.

It’s not money.

It’s not sex.

Incredibly, your happiness can be increased by someone you have never spoken to, have never met, and don’t even know exists.

Research shows that one person’s happiness triggers a chain reaction that benefits not only his friends, but his friends’ friends, and his friends’ friends’ friends. That’s three degrees of separation!

And it doesn’t have to be family or relatives – or people emotionally close to you – but physically close, like your next door neighbours.

The researchers found that when an individual becomes happy, a friend living within a mile experiences a 25 percent increased chance of becoming happy. A co-resident spouse experiences an 8 percent increased chance, siblings living within one mile have a 14 percent increased chance, and for next door neighbors, 34 percent chance of becoming happier.

But the real surprise came with indirect relationships. Again, while an individual becoming happy increases his friend’s chances, a friend of that friend experiences a nearly 10 percent chance of increased happiness. Furthermore, a friend of *that* friend has a 5.6 percent increased chance—a three-degree cascade.

So a friend of a friend of a friend could have made you happier, and you don’t even know them.

Happiness can spread, like a contagious infection, through a linked network of people. And the “happiness infection” can spread as far as 3 degrees of separation.

This doesn’t happen by telepathy though. It’s not some mystical “force” or “energy” that spreads the happiness. That would be ridiculous. The spread of happiness obviously depends on some form of communication between the network of friends.

But that doesn’t have to be physical contact.

Phone conversations, Facebook, messaging, online chats etc. can all spread happiness from one person to another.

And then that happiness can spread to the next person.

The effect lasts for up to one year.

These effects are limited by both time and space. The closer a friend lives to you, the stronger the emotional contagion. But as distance increases, the effect dissipates. This explains why next door neighbors have an effect, but not neighbors who live around the block.

Thankfully, sadness does not spread through social networks as effectively as happiness. So an unhappy friend of a friend will not make you unhappy.

But you might be able to cheer them up, eventually, by being happier yourself!


Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081205094506.htm

Photo Credits : Happy Friends by Sharefaith on Pexels.com


 

Stress makes it difficult for us to plan because it impairs our memory

We use our memory to look back at our past.

But we also use our memories of what has happened in the past, to plan our futures.

When we are stressed, we cannot retrieve memories as quickly or as accurately. And that impairs our ability to plan for the future.

Stressing out about a problem can make finding a solution even harder.

Stressing out over a problem can make finding a solution even harder.

Researchers Stanford University conducted experiments where they monitored participants’ behavior and brain activity — via fMRI — as they navigated through virtual towns. After participants became very familiar with the winding routes in a dozen virtual towns, they were dropped onto one of the memorized paths and told to find their way to a particular point.

Some of the participants were told they would receive a mild electric shock at random. These participants – who were worried about a random electric shock – performed less well that the others who were not threatened with electric shocks.


Middle age stress is greater now than in the 1990’s

Read more …

Participants who didn’t have to worry about being randomly shocked tended to find shortcuts based on memories acquired from prior journeys. Whereas the stressed participants tended to fall back on the meandering, habitual routes.

It’s possible that people who are suffering with financial stress, fail to make effective plans to help deal with financial problem. And that may make their financial situation even worse.


Source: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200403115103.htm

Photos: Red pencil stress words by Pedro Figueras | Man and laptop by Oladimeji Ajegbile 


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