Losing shut eye may increase sensitivity to food stimuli

Does that massive bagel look appealing this morning despite your dedication to healthy choices? It could be because you’re losing sleep that you feel hungrier than usual.

Not getting the recommended hours of sleep each night leads to increased activation in brain areas associated with regulating hunger and making decisions, says a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Food stimuli increased regional brain activity in areas associated with motivation, decision-making, and self-control.

“Our data thus suggest that restricting sleep alters neuronal activity, which predisposes individuals to enhanced susceptibility to food stimuli and may partly explain the relation observed between sleep duration and BMI,” the study found.

Of particular interest in the study was the finding that in comparing habitual to restricted sleep results, restricted sleep condition showed significantly higher “activation in the insula, involved in processing interoceptive signals such as hunger,” and in “the lentiform nucleus, putamen, and nucleus accumbens –associated with emotional responses to stimuli and motivation and reward systems.”

Researchers recruited 30 participants (26 completed), women and men, of a healthy weight to take part in a two phase study, each six days long, where they were randomly assigned to either a restricted sleep condition (four hours a night) or a habitual sleep condition (nine hours a night).

During the first five days of the study participants had a controlled diet, thereafter they ate as desired. They also had access to gym equipment during the entire study.

On day six, participants had Functional Magnetic Resonsance Imaging (fMRI) scans done while being shown images of food and nonfood items.

Another interesting find was “after a period of restricted sleep, the neuronal pattern was similar to one that would be in place when the body is at lower body weight and aiming to restore initial body weight.”

Restricting sleep may leave you prone to respond more to food stimuli and possibly gain weight due to increased activation in the brain in response to food. The results conclude that the brain scans may indicate increased inclination to seek food for people who are not getting enough sleep.

An irregular sleeping pattern can wreak havoc on your body by not only leaving you feeling more tired, but by leading your brain to respond to food even if you are not hungry.

Get your sleep. Skip the extra calories.

This study was published in the April 2012 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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Here are some tips for how to stay fuller with healthy food

 

 

 

 

 

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These are a few of my favorite things (health wise of course)

My Fitspiration

By far, this is my favorite blog to visit because it is run by two women I adore: Biggest Loser Season 11 winner Olivia Ward and her sister, Season 11 runner-up, Hannah Curlee. Olivia and Hannah cover fitness, fashion and fun in their posts. Always inspirational and hilarious, I love this site for motivation, great health tips and their section on “obsession confessions”. The sisters are great to follow on Twitter too!

True Food Movement

I came across True Food Movement after reading about one of the site’s bloggers, Lisa Johnson, and her “30-Day Whole Foods Thrifty Challenge”. I was so fascinated by the idea and explored more about eating organic and fresh foods in a balanced diet on the site. You can also find information about eco-friendly topics. To get started a eating fresh lifestyle check out the basics first or the getting started section.

 Whole Story

The official Whole Foods blog. I know what you might be thinking (“Whole paycheck?!”). I’ve heard many a sigh when I mention this organic grocer, but hey, if you know how to find great values amidst whole foods, why not? (see more on the 30-day challenge above) With tons of recipe ideas and information on produce, the topics covered in the blog are wide-ranging! Also check out the coupon section to save some green.

Also, don’t miss these sites:

Fit Bottomed Girls – Eats, workouts, reviews, blogs – Overall, a ton of useful information

Fit chick in the city – Fitness expert blogs about healthy living in New York City

Mile Posts – Great for motivation and learning more about running

The Ethicurean – All about local, organic, ethical food choices

A nutritionist eats – Fabulous food from a nutritionist who believes all things in moderation

The Fitnessista – From a girl who loves fitness as much as she loves food

Are you getting enough exercise?

Healthy living is about finding balance between the many components that make up total wellness. One of the major factors in that equation is exercise. Planned and purposeful routines designed to improve the cardiovascular system and strengthen muscles keep your body functioning at its best.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity a week and muscle strength training on two or more days per week in their guidelines for adults.

The CDC website has other physical activity plans for adults too, all of them combining aerobic and strength training. Everyday Health has a great article about the difference between physical activity and exercise

As a female, the most common response I hear from friends when I ask if they do strength training is, “No because I don’t want to be bulky.” This response is apparently not uncommon according to 24 Hour Fitness personal trainer, Emily Aceves, 22.

Aceves says it is the No. 1 common misconception for females because they do not have enough testosterone to build muscle like males can. Plus there are many benefits to building lean muscle mass for females, including increasing basal metabolic rate (BMR) which means your body burns more calories when it is at rest.

What about students who feel their schedule is too buys to incorporate regular workouts?

“Find an activity you like to do, running, hiking, playing tennis; whatever gets you from a sedentary position to a standing position. Add movement to your life,” Aceves says.

Other noted benefits of regular exercise include a higher red blood cell count which oxygenates the body better and a decreased resting heart rate which makes the body work harder to pump blood and burns more calories, Aceves says.

For more information about exercise visit:

Everyday Health — Fitness

Exercise Prescription Website — ExRx

Stress may drive you to eat more

The busy life of the average adult today will undoubtedly produce common life stressors which could contribute to increased hunger which can become an obstacle for those who are trying to maintain a healthy weight.

A study of 561 women recruited from Northern California found a partial correlation between perceived stress and the drive to eat, specifically for non-nutritious food and a decline in nutritious food intake.

The perception of being highly stressed was also related to an increased lack of control over eating, greater hunger, and more frequent binge eating.

Participants were recruited to complete an online study on “Women’s Health,” and filled out various assessments to measure socio-demographics, height and weight, perceived stress level, chronic stress exposure, binge eating tendencies, and other eating behaviors.

The study discusses the physiological connection in non-human animal tests where, “non-nutritious food has a calming effect on the HPA axis stress response.” The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is an information loop which includes the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands. The main hormones which activate the HPA, include adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) which can increase cortisol levels in the blood.

Long-term activation of the stress-response system and overexposure to cortisol can disrupt almost all of your body’s processes, a MayoClinic article says.

Unfortunately the drive to eat more non-nutritious food, more often, as a response to stress, as indicated in the stress and eating study above, could lead to weight gain.

Dr. Terri Lisagor, EdD, MS, RD, an assistant professor at California State University Northridge who specializes in Food Science and Nutrition, says individuals should ask themselves what they might not be getting enough of in their diet which could lead to an increased hunger response from stress.

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The study was published in the April issue of “Appetite” journal.