‘Public health scientists and a government committee working on nutritional advice receive funding from the very companies whose products are widely held to be responsible for the obesity crisis, an investigation by The BMJ reveals today…’ A new investigation regarding the link between Big Food and the Scientists it supports has been revealed today. I’ve read the press release, but haven’t found the study. Thus far, I’m skeptical about all of it.
Looking up from a year that was, we are now in the Year that Is. On New Years Day, my family and I started the discussion and, gentle intellectual spar, to debate what is truly possible versus what is false hope or folly. Perhaps more importantly: how, or can we, avoid being prey to our own delusional self belief (be that dithering and pessimistic, or embarrassingly, wildly optimistic). I started to wonder what allows humans to do Really Great Things.
Over the last thirty years, researchers have come to appreciate the hugely important role of a tiny group of neurons in the hypothalamus, and their influence on both feeding and sleeping behaviour. Perhaps once dismissed as insignificant, we are now beginning to understand how a relatively miniscule group of cells in the lateral hypothalamus (described shortly) could be linked with everything from wakefulness to addiction to overeating. To be clear, the hypothalamus is the body’s main control centre.
Yesterday I read a blog post about a person with compulsive tendencies towards posting selfies (which, by the way is not categorized in the diagram above, but I’ll designate it as ‘social’ behaviour). While this is an extreme case, the man could not get out of bed without taking at least 10 selfies, lost a pile of weight to perfect the ‘best’ selfie, and generally allowed his phone to become the ruler of his minute, hour, week, life.
How Healthy Poop Can Help Your Mood My nephews are in the phase when even the word ‘toilet’ elicits reams of laughter. Yet, healthy poop and the micriobiome that is responsible for its maintenance, is no laughing matter ****(I’ll do my best to avoid terrible jokes to side step the gross factor of this post. Promise). In fact, the gut microbiome is becoming a critical area within neuroscientific, psychiatric, and psychological research.
With our launch of Lose it Right on the horizon, I thought I would share a small chapter from my life – a chapter that is turning into a bigger one – regarding how my co-author James Fell and I met, and why we decided to write a book together. As an academic focused on obesity research, I was wary of entering the world of mainstream weight loss publishing.
Exercise elicits the release of Beta Endorphins, which are 5-10 times more powerful than morphine. Exercise can be an effective tool for dealing with depression. Exercise enhances grey matter (i.e. brain) growth. Here are a few reasons why I like exercise, beyond what happens to the outside…. Recently, I wrote a blog post to discuss the ways women are portrayed in the media. My goal was to highlight this somewhat depressing issue: women are often pressured to adopt unrealistic standards for their body in the guise of being ‘fit’.
What Separates Habit from Addiction? What does this have to do with dieting? BASIC SUMMARY: Pavlovian conditioning is learning in its most basic form: it ties a stimulus with a visceral response. As dogs and bells remind us, it really does ‘work’. Some people believe this belies our inability to stay on a diet: we are conditioned to surrounding external stimuli that elicit food craving. Learning, in its more complex forms, is determined based on the punishing or rewarding consequences of ones’ actions.
An analogy for weight and fat loss, and an attempt to describe part of the difficulty in doing either. Broadly speaking, ‘Fast Facts About Biology’ can hardly be beat. Male sea horses become ‘pregnant’, neutrinos (even the name is great!), that Weddell’s seals can hunt for up to an hour beneath the surface of artic ice… I find facts about human biology even more interesting; your foot is the size of your forearm, your bone is as strong as granite.
Anecdotally, the stress/eating connection makes some sense. I know of a lot of study sessions that are accompanied by a doughnut or two. Or, let’s take people who have high stress jobs: in many cases, a 10 to 20 pound weight gain is typical after the six month honey moon in a career in banking or law. However, there are other instances where much larger amounts of weight are gained as product of a hugely stressful environment.