Just a couple of weeks ago, we took apart type 1 diabetes as a condition and looked at the nature, diagnosis, and coping mechanisms of the condition. This time, we’ve taken up a more common type of diabetes, type 2 diabetes mellitus. We’ll look at the possible causes of the condition, what puts you at the risk of type 2 diabetes and what risk it puts you in, and ways to effectively deal with it once diagnosed. Read along!

What’s type 2 diabetes? How different is it from type 1?

Type 2 diabetes is a condition characterized by dysregulation of carbohydrate, lipid, and protein metabolism, and results from impaired insulin secretion, insulin resistance, or a combination of both.

Unlike the autoimmune condition of type 1 diabetes where the insulin-producing b-cells are destroyed by the body’s immune system, the insulin-producing cells are still intact in people with type 2 diabetes. However, the insulin secretion by these b-cells or insulin usage by the body is not optimal, and hence the dysregulated blood sugar levels.

The onset and symptoms of type 2 diabetes

Statistically, older adults are the ones commonly diagnosed with diabetes. However, in recent days, due to lack of physical activity, poor diet and alarmingly increasing obesity in children, the risk of them being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has gone up multifold.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, one can be at high risk of being diabetic if one or many of the following conditions are met –

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Being Overweight
  • Unhealthy diet pattern
  • Not physically active
  • Being an Older adult
  • High blood pressure
  • History of gestational diabetes

Apart from these, ethnicity and not having enough nutrition during pregnancy might as well be reasons for diabetes. The condition of type 2 diabetes usually sets in slowly and develops gradually, so there is no way to find out for sure other than monitoring your blood sugar levels at periodic intervals but there are a few symptoms that people experience.

Here are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes
  • Excessive thirst and dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Lack of energy, tiredness
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Recurrent infections in the skin
  • Blurred vision
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet.

It is possible that you do not experience these symptoms yet have dysregulated or high blood sugar levels, so please make sure to get it tested regularly.

Diet myths around diabetes

Common beliefs are that if you’re diabetic, you can’t eat fruits, carbohydrates, or sweet food. This isn’t essentially true. While fruits, sweet food, and simple carbohydrates can all cause a spike in your blood sugar, consuming them as part of a wholesome meal with fiber, vitamins, and minerals help. What matters is portioning your meals effectively and laying down on processed sugar and keeping your plate balanced.

Myths like ‘diabetes are caused by consuming a lot of sugar’ and ‘you can control blood sugar levels by consuming bitter food’ are all results of little to no information about the condition. Please understand that diabetes is caused by impaired insulin secretion or acceptance, and blood sugar levels can be kept under control by a regulated, portioned diet and even insulin treatment in select cases.

What are the types of diabetes?

Apart from the most common type 2 diabetes and the lesser-known counterpart, autoimmune diabetes or type 1 diabetes, there are a few more types as well.

  • Diabetes is caused by diseases of the exocrine pancreas, such as pancreatitis, trauma, infection, pancreatic cancer, and pancreatectomy.
  • Diabetes due to endocrine disorders that cause excess secretion of hormones that antagonize insulin.
  • Drug and chemical-induced diabetes from drugs that disrupt insulin secretion or insulin action.
  • Infection-related diabetes is caused by viral infection associated with beta-cell destruction.
  • Uncommon specific forms of immune-mediated diabetes (e.g. immunological disorders other than those that cause type 1 diabetes).
  • Diabetes is caused by other genetic syndromes (i.e. Prader- Willi syndrome, Down’s syndrome, Friedreich’s ataxia).
How do I tackle diabetes?

Here’s a hard-to-swallow pill – If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, it is most likely to become part of your life after. So, tackling diabetes is more of a lifestyle change, rather than a temporary measure.

Balanced meal patterns, regular physical activity, and medications will alone solve half your problems, and minimize diabetes-propelled health complications. Keeping your cholesterol, body weight, and blood sugar levels at optimal levels and monitoring them regularly can also help.

Yoda is here to help you fight! Call us up and we’ll talk more about diabetes-friendly diet plans and more information on the condition. Stay informed, stay fit.

The human body is complexly wired. Each nutrition type, each cell organ, and each cell behaves a certain way to keep our physical health in optimal condition. In a few people, these cells behave in ways that aren’t ideal, for reasons yet unknown. One such condition is type 1 diabetes.

What exactly does type 1 diabetes mean?

Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is a disorder where the body’s immune system mistakenly destroys cells that are responsible for insulin production. These cells are called the islets of the pancreas, and the insulin they secrete helps the cells absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Without the islets, your body cannot produce enough insulin, thus resulting in high blood sugar levels and less glucose absorption in cells.

What’s the optimal blood sugar level?

To start with, the HbA1c levels should be anywhere between 4 and 5.6 percentage. This indicates the levels of glucose attached to your hemoglobin. As far as the plasma glucose levels go, the criteria to be diagnosed with diabetes are the fasting plasma glucose level being greater than 126 mg/dL and the random plasma glucose levels being greater than 200 mg/dL.

What are the symptoms of type 1 diabetes?

You have to understand that this disorder is more common in children than adults. So it’s really important to understand these, as a parent. Do lookout for these symptoms in your child, and get their blood sugar levels checked.

  • Abnormal thirst and dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Lack of energy, tiredness
  • Constant hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Bedwetting
  • Weight loss—even though you are eating more
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Aren’t adults affected by type 1 diabetes at all?

This is a very common myth around this disorder. While children are the ones we risk the most, adults are prone to LADA. The latent autoimmune diabetes in adults sets on late and progresses slowly. The initial stages of LADA often seem so much like type 2 diabetes. People diagnosed with this disorder are usually over 30. Like the autoimmune disease type 1 diabetes, LADA occurs because your pancreas stops producing adequate insulin, most likely from some “insult” that slowly damages the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

Risk associated

Though there are no causes for type 1 diabetes, in some cases there’s a correlation between family history, genetics and occurrence. Though people of all ages are at risk, it appears that there are two noticeable peaks. The first peak occurs in children between 4 and 7 years old, and the second is in children between 10 and 14 years old.

The disorder of not coping with responsibility can lead to several problems. Complications associated with type 1 diabetes are

  1. Retinopathy, where there are risks of the disorder affecting the eye.
  2. Dyslipidemia, a condition where the cholesterol levels and fat levels are unnaturally high.
  3. Neuropathy, a complication that causes weakness, numbness and passion in the items and feet due to nerve damage.
  4. CKD, the risk of renal failure and diseased kidneys.
Treatment, diet and ways to cope

General treatment for type 1 diabetes indispensably includes insulin. According to the physician’s directions, insulin intake becomes mandatory to support your body functions. In adults, Sulphonylurea drugs like Metformin, Thiazolidinediones and Insulin therapy are administered.

It is very important that you maintain a cleaner, healthier diet in general. Proteins, good rest and adequate physical activity helps keep your blood sugar levels in check. Constant monitoring and a regulated lifestyle will get you through a lot of complications. Stay informed about the condition, and stay on top of it.

Blood Cholesterol Levels – The what, why and how.

High cholesterol level in blood has become so common, that almost 10 million people are diagnosed with it, every year. A seemingly simple explanation for this is our sedentary lifestyle, but the issue is a little more deep rooted than just lifestyle. What makes up your plate eventually makes up your physique, and we’re here to help you sort the plate out.

What is cholesterol, really?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body needs for a lot of functions, like hormone secretion, metabolism and maintaining overall health. Carried through the body by lipoproteins, cholesterol essentially helps your body maintain balance and is a good friend.

Until, there’s too much of it in your blood. Too much blood cholesterol has a lot of consequences, but first, how much is too much?

Interpreting your blood cholesterol numbers.

There are two types of cholesterol, the High-Density Lipoprotein and the Low-Density Lipoprotein, commonly referred to as the good and the bad cholesterol. HDL absorbs excess cholesterol and takes it back to the liver, while the LDL collects on the walls of blood vessels.

Total cholesterol level HDL LDL
Optimal Less than 200 mg/dl <40 mg/dl in men,
<50 mg/dl in women.
<100 mg/dl
High Anything over 240 mg/dl is very high ≥130 mg/dl

 

While it is true that cholesterol levels must be kept in check, neglecting cholesterols is not the way to go either. Any HDL reading below 40 mg/dl in men and 50 mg/dl is considered low, and is not advisable in the long run.

How would I know?

Symptoms for high cholesterol levels in your blood will not show as explicitly, so the risk of it being undetected until it’s serious is quite high. The only way to find out and know for sure that you have high blood cholesterol is to have it tested by a physician.

A few physical symptoms however, are fatty bumps on your skin, called xanthomas, or grayish-white rings around the corneas in your eye, called corneal arcus. These mostly develop in people who have familial hypercholesterolemia. But waiting for these symptoms might not be the wisest decision. Have your blood cholesterol levels periodically checked and keep yourself on the know.

Who’s at risk?

Statistically people between the ages of 40 and 59 are the ones commonly diagnosed with high blood cholesterol. Other than age, there are a few other risk factors that can increase your chances when it comes to getting diagnosed with high blood cholesterol.

As far as lifestyle choices are concerned, eating foods high in saturated fats or trans fats regularly, lack of physical activity, smoking, chronic stress and drinking too much alcohol can pose a threat. Apart from these, high blood cholesterol could also be genetic.

If you have other conditions like obesity, PCOS, Diabetes, Hypothyroidism and/or are taking medications like diuretic, steroids, or medications for chemotherapy, they might be reasons for high levels of blood cholesterol.

Dealing with it

Left unchecked for prolonged periods of time, high blood cholesterol levels can lead to serious problems, such as heart attack and stroke. So it is very important that you cope well and keep your numbers at bay.

First things first, work on what you eat. Reduce the consumption of saturated and trans fats that are found in fatty cuts of meat, dairy products, and many packaged snacks and desserts. We recommend eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, and the usage of certain vegetable oils such as olive oil. The DASH eating plan will help reduce your LDL, or the “bad cholesterol”.

Working on a healthier lifestyle along with a proper diet can work wonders. By healthier lifestyle we mean being physically active, keeping yourself free of too much stress, not smoking, limiting your alcohol consumption and taking the right meds when needed. Speak with your doctor and stick to the protocol, and you’ll be mighty fine!

Hello, Yoda here. Today, we’ll discuss one of the most prevalent conditions in the world. As of 2019, hypertension, or high blood pressure had affected around 26% of the world’s population. The number was estimated to grow up to a whopping 29% by 2025, and the pandemic-infused stress has only made it worse.

To tackle hypertension, we must understand the condition first.

So, what is hypertension?

Hypertension is a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently higher pressure than optimum. This means that the blood in the arteries is flowing at a higher pressure than normal, and arteries are overclocking consistently.

It is commonly expressed as the ratio of Systolic Blood Pressure (SBP) to Diastolic Blood Pressure (DBP). Systolic blood pressure is the pressure that the blood exerts on the arterial walls when the heart contracts and diastolic blood pressure is the pressure exerted when the heart relaxes.

How much should your SBP/DBP read, exactly?

Optimally, your SBP should read less than or around 120 and DBP should be less than 80. Here’s a table that’ll help you understand numbers around hypertension better.

 

 

What are all the possible causes of high blood pressure?

To understand why someone’s blood pressure is high, we must first learn about the two types.

Primary or essential high blood pressure is the common type. It develops with old age, a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, stress, or an irregular/insufficient sleeping pattern.

Secondary blood pressure on the other hand is usually the result of a prevailing medical condition or a side effect of certain medicines. This fades gradually after treating the initial condition or as the medicines that cause hypertension are stopped.

How would one know if they have hypertension?

Here’s the tricky part – The only way to be sure if you have high blood pressure is to get it checked by a health professional. There are symptoms like the ones discussed below, but they don’t always show, and if you’re experiencing any of these, you must start taking immediate action.

Speaking about noticeable symptoms, you will experience early morning headaches, occasional nosebleeds, irregular heart rhythms, blurred vision, and a buzz in the ears.

More severe ones include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, and muscle tremors. Again, with hypertension, the symptoms are not regular and persistent, which makes it easy to miss. However, ignoring it can cause persistent pain in the chest – a condition called angina, heart attacks, heart failure, and irregular heartbeats. Hypertension left unchecked leads to sudden death, even. so it is important to notice any discomfort or symptom and get your blood pressure checked regularly.

Am I at risk?

One of the most common mistakes a lot of people make is assuming that they are free from the risk of being affected by hypertension because they are young. While it is true that people over 55 are more likely to be affected by it, age isn’t the only criterion here.

Your chances of having high blood pressure increase if you

  • Are overweight
  • Eat salty food or food rich in sodium
  • Do not have an active lifestyle
  • Smoke
  • Consume alcohol a lot
  • Have a family history of high blood pressure

How do I cope with high blood pressure?

The first thing to do is to periodically check your blood pressure levels. If recommended by your physician, do take your medicines every day. Having an active lifestyle definitely helps reduce the risk of hypertension, so do exercise regularly. Keep your body weight in check, and quit smoking. Limit your alcohol intake, and finally, maintain a good sleep cycle.

The last thing to understand when talking about hypertension is that diet plays a very important role in keeping your blood pressure levels low. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or the DASH eating plan is one effective meal plan that helps.

The DASH eating plan

The DASH eating habit helps keep your hypertension in check by limiting sodium intake. It encourages foods that are rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein. Here are a few food groups and foods recommended in the DASH eating plan.

 

 

There are a lot of other foods that are recommended as part of the DASH eating plan. The focus here is to simply limit your salt/sodium intake and load up on a wholesome, nutritious meal that’ll help regulate your blood pressure. According to the DASH diet, the total sodium intake should not be more than 2,300 mg per day.

Remember to relax

Hypertension, though if left unchecked could become a lot more serious, is not a threatening illness if you follow a decent protocol in diet and lifestyle. Kick back, relax, take the right nutrients, keep fit and move along. Yoda’s here to help you loosen it up.

The following information may be triggering to those with eating disorders. Please be mindful should you continue reading. 

 

A severe and life-threatening disorder, Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by recurring episodes of excessive food consumption. A recent but important addition to the officially recognised list of disorders, binge eating is capable of immense harm to the body and mind. Let’s understand what exactly this disorder entails. 

Basics of Binge Eating: 

 

People who binge eat are not just driven by hunger or due to a metabolic need. For some it’s the hedonistic value, for others compulsion to eat and yet others for the stress relief. Binge eating is a behaviour which develops into Binge Eating Disorder. 

 

Diagnosis: 

 

A binge eating episode is characterized by the following: 

 

  1. Eating a significantly large quantity of food than most people would eat in the same period of time, in similar circumstances 
  2. Experiencing a lack of control with eating during this episode 

 

Binge eating episodes are also accompanied with at least three of the following: 

 

  1. Eating faster than normal 
  2. Eating until feeling uncomfortably full 
  3. Eating large quantities of food despite not being physically hungry
  4. Eating alone out of embarrassment for food quantity
  5. Feelings of self-disgustion, depression and guilt from overeating 

 

Mukbang: A growing trend this past year among Youtube vloggers are ‘Mukbangs’, where people eat ridiculous amounts of food on camera. These videos have both a positive and negative impact, where some feel that mukbangs encourage healthy appetites and others find it normalizes eating disorders. 

 

Warning Signs: 

 

Binge eating is an insidious disorder, it gradually develops over a period of time. Be wary of these warning signs: 

  • Stealing or hoarding of food in strange places
  • Withdrawing from friends and usual activities 
  • Going on-and-off on diets 
  • Uncomfortable while eating around others 

 

Symptoms: 

 

Binge eating directly impacts your physiology and psychology, it comes with a plethora of symptoms. They include 

  • Fluctuations of weight, both increase and decrease. 
  • Stomach cramps 
  • Constipation
  • Acid Reflux 
  • Difficulty in concentration 

 

Neurobiology of Binge Eating: Binge eating has been classified as a disorder but the neurobiology mirrors the same traits of substance abuse behaviour. Delicious foods and fluids provide the same reinforcement effects to the natural reward pathways in your brain as addictive substances like drugs. 

 

Consequences: 

 

The prominent health risks associated with Binge Eating Disorder are clinical obesity, weight stigma and weight cycling. Yo-yo dieting is common among those with BED. Not all people who are clinically obese have BED, but two-thirds of people with BED are clinically obese. Similarly, while most people with BED have higher-than-average weight, it can be diagnosed at any weight. 

 

More severe cases of BED lead to Bulimia Nervosa: a life-threatening eating disorder involving cycles of binge eating and behaviours like self-induced vomiting. 

 

Treatment: 

 

Studies show that psychological interventions like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Behavioural Weight Loss Therapy (BWLT) do seem effective for binge eating disorders.

 

CBT directly targets the core of binge eating since both the psychopathology of eating disorders and over-evaluation of shape and weight are cognitive in nature. A study suggests that people start with extreme and highly specific dietary rules when trying to reverse BED. However, this tends to fail and patients are further negatively affected. CBT helps in this regard.
Cheers and see you soon,  

 

References

  1. Binge eating disorder treatment: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Brownley KA, Berkman ND, Sedway JA, Lohr KN, Bulik CM
  2. Personality and eating behaviors: a case-control study of binge eating disorder. Davis C, Levitan RD, Carter J, Kaplan AS, Reid C, Curtis C, Patte K, Kennedy JL
  3. Brownley, Kimberly A., et al. “Binge-Eating Disorder in Adults.” Annals of Internal Medicine, vol. 165, no. 6, 2016, p. 409., doi:10.7326/m15-2455.
  4. Mathes, Wendy Foulds, et al. “The Biology of Binge Eating.” Appetite, vol. 52, no. 3, 2009, pp. 545–553., doi:10.1016/j.appet.2009.03.005.
  5. National Eating Disorders

Get the facts here and the booze elsewhere! 

A contentious topic in the nutrition industry: Alcohol. It’s an addiction, a hindrance, an inhibitor of sense and yet, it’s a pleasure, a social convention and an aggregator of sensations.
 

Did you know? When water was unsafe to consume in Europe, alcohol proved to be a better option for hydration!

 

Why do we drink? 

 

For a multitude of reasons! They’re not just excuses to get sloshed, people. We’re talking about actual scientific facts here. 

 

Let’s get serious.

 

The primary factor that causes humans to consume alcohol is dopamine. When you drink alcohol, it increases the flow of dopamine, which in turn stimulates the pleasure and reward center of the brain. The direct correlation of drink = reward is as simple as it gets. 

 

Did you know? Young adults who love sugar have a predisposition towards alcohol, and are more prone to getting addicted to it.

 

Other factors that incentivise us to drink alcohol include: 

  • appealing taste 
  • stress relief
  • loosens inhibitions  
  • social courtesy
  • assists sleep

 

How does drinking affect us? 

 

Although we humans consume for recreation, alcohol is a toxic substance that can cause a lot of damage to our bodily functions. The toxic-flusher of our bodies – the liver is the organ that is particularly sensitive to alcohol intake.

 

Fatty liver is a common occurrence in those who drink more than 15ml of alcohol per day. While this doesn’t show symptoms and is reversible, binge drinking and excessive alcohol consumption leads to inflamed liver, or worse, cirrhosis.   

 

Physiologically, when we drink we lose control of our inhibitions. Yes, this makes socialising easier but it also increases and encourages risk-taking behaviour. 

 

The World Health Organization estimated that over 3 million people die every year due to alcohol consumption. This constitutes 5% of all deaths!

 

When does drinking become an addiction? 

The simple drink = reward correlation we spoke of earlier? Both a blessing and a bane, an excessive increase in dopamine levels is an addictive factor. Further, alcohol acts on the prefrontal cortex which reduces our inhibitory control and amps up our risk-taking behaviour. These coupled with pre-existing addiction tendencies, lifestyle, environment and company all play a role in creating an alcohol addiction. 

 

We’ve covered the why, the how, and the when. It’s now time for the what.

 

What can you drink? 

 

Leaving aside the physiological and psychological effects of alcohol we’ve outlined above, there’s sure to be times when you do indulge in a sip (or glass) (or bottle) of alcohol. Here’s what you can do to minimise the impact. 

 

Lay. Off. The. Cocktails. 

 

Cocktails, margaritas, fancy shots – therein lies the path of sugaryness. It’s ideal if you stick to hard liquor and a mixer (water, soda or ice). Do make sure to curtail the number of drinks and keep hydrated throughout. 

 

So that’s the high and low of it all. We are not in the business of morals, ethics or sanctity. You’ve read the science, now it’s time for you to make the choices that work for your lifestyle! 

 

Cheers and see you soon,  

 

References

  1. https://www.wdl.org/en/item/3956/
  2. Kampov-Polevoy, Alexey, et al. “Sweet-Liking Is Associated with Transformation of Heavy Drinking into Alcohol-Related Problems in Young Adults with High Novelty Seeking.” Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, vol. 38, no. 7, 2014, pp. 2119–2126., doi:10.1111/acer.12458.
  3. Crabb, David W. “Pathogenesis of Alcoholic Liver Disease. Newer Mechanisms of Injury.” The Keio Journal of Medicine, vol. 48, no. 4, 1999, pp. 184–188., doi:10.2302/kjm.48.184.
  4. Bergheim, Ina, et al. “Treatment of Alcoholic Liver Disease.” Digestive Diseases, vol. 23, no. 3-4, 2005, pp. 275–284., doi:10.1159/000090175.

Sleep is for the weak? No, sleep is for the species! 

 

“If sleep does not serve an absolutely vital function, then it is the biggest mistake the evolutionary process has ever made” – Dr Allan Rechtschaffen

 

Have you ever thought about why we need to sleep? Guess what…

 

Nobody knows!

 

From an evolutionary standpoint, sleep is rather confusing. When the body is at rest, it forsakes all the aspects that constitute humanity. One can’t gather sustenance, socialise, mate, protect offspring and worst of all, sleep leaves you vulnerable to predation. And yet, lack of sleep causes serious physiological and psychological damage to our bodies. Let’s take a gander into the world of zzzs…

 

Types of Sleep 

 

The recommended daily amount of sleep is 7 – 8 hours for adults. However, this comes with a disclaimer. The sleep referred to here includes total sleep and type of sleep, both are required for optimal body functioning. Over and above this, it’s ideal if one sleeps at the time when the body is ready to sleep and not otherwise. 

 

If you were a biology student, I’m sure you’ll remember hearing about REM sleep in school. REM or Random Eye Movement sleep is usually when you get dreams and/or nightmares. Non-REM sleep is commonly known as deep or slow wave sleep. 

 

Circadian Rhythms: We all have an internal body clock which controls when we wake and sleep, which usually follows a 24-hour repetitive pattern. This circadian rhythm affects the working of every single cell, tissue and organ of our bodies! 

 

Off the rhythm 

 

It’s not just dancers that need to maintain a rhythm, our body mechanisms need to as well! When there is an alteration in your circadian rhythm, everything feels ‘off’. Consecutive shifts from our rhythms, whether due to poor or disturbed sleep or lack of sleep entirely, leads to sleep deficiency and ultimately, sleep deprivation. 

 

I’m so sleepy…

 

An oft-spoken phrase, isn’t it? Sleep deficiency has become the new norm, in fact, it’s begotten the term ‘sleep epidemic’. An occasional night awake is expected, but several nights up late binge-watching shows, staring at the ceiling or simply being unable to sleep? It’s not optimal in the slightest. 

 

Microsleeping: Those brief moments of sleep that happen while you’re still awake? If you’ve experienced this, you’ve been microsleeping. A symptom of sleep deficiency, microsleep can’t be controlled and often happens without your awareness.

 

Insufficient sleep on a regular basis interferes with every aspect of our lives: work, school, driving and even social situations. Retention and reaction capabilities are hindered. Gauging  other’s emotions is tough when you haven’t slept enough, and you will find yourself frustrated and anxious when socialising. 

 

All this and more is why we should prioritize sufficient and appropriate sleep. 

 

But, how?

 

Creating a sleep routine is a requisite for sustainable balance in life. Start small. And no, we’re not recommending you count 100 sheep a night, then 200, and so forth. Find a rhythm that works for you! Whether it’s keeping a sleep diary, setting reminders to get ready for bed, or even asking your significant other to wake you up (a parent would be more reliable), make sure you maintain that routine.  

 

The more consistent you are with your routine, the sooner you’ll see results in your day-to-day life. You’ll notice you’re more refreshed in the mornings (no more cranky monday blues), improved concentration at school and work, and a drastic reduction in your midday naps! Do comment below on what helps you sleep, we’d love to hear from you. 

 

See you on the flip side,

Eating this causes weight gain.
Eating this increases cravings.
Eating this gets you addicted to it.
Meet the new villain in the health and fitness industry, sugar.
 

 
White sugar has got a bad reputation in the health industry for a while, since we moved away from fat. Leaving aside weight gain, white sugar or sucrose has been said to be ‘addictive’.
Addiction is defined as “the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity.” It indicates psychological dependence. Addiction is commonly used in the context of drugs or alcohol and has now been extended to sugar. If sugar alone was really that addictive, we would be eating sugar straight out of the bag right? Do we really see people carrying bags of white sugar and secretly eating them when no one is watching?
 
But sugar is more addictive than cocaine!
 
This statement is used over and over again, but it shows how a research paper can be entirely misinterpreted. The study measured dopamine response to food and drugs in rats (1). They found that dopamine levels increased when the rats received food as a reward and also when cocaine was injected in them. This only shows that cocaine can increase dopamine levels similar to food reward. It does not imply that sugar is more addictive than cocaine.
 
What does the research actually say?
 
Animal studies addressing sugar addiction employ a method of depriving the rodents of sugar for a certain period and then allow free access to food (2). This is usually 12-16 hours of deprivation followed by 12 hours of access to food. Hence this addiction like behaviour is usually observed in rats that have intermittent access to sugar (2). This restriction is what possibly increases the reward value of sugar. This behaviour is very similar to when we restrict ourselves from certain food groups don’t you think? More importantly, in these studies, rats were given liquid glucose, sucrose or saccharin. Humans don’t consume in isolation, but rather in combination with fat and several other ingredients which results in a highly palatable food.
 
Maybe it’s about the palatability?
 
Evidence from animal models suggests that hyperpalatable and highly processed foods could potentially be addictive (3). Foods like pastries, cakes, doughnuts and the likes are a mixture of carbohydrates, fat, sugar and flavouring that makes it very energy dense and palatable. It is not made of just sugar. Rather, sugar is one of the ingredients. Moreover, most evidence stems from studies done in animals with limited trials in humans.
 
More recently,
 
A study in 2017 (4) examined whether sugar containing foods could bring about possible ‘addictive like’ behaviors based on clinical criteria for substance dependance. This cross sectional study studied 1495 participants for signs of food addiction for particular food categories in accordance with accepted clinical criteria (DSM-IV).  They found that most of these ‘addiction like’ problems were towards high fat savoury and high fat sweet foods and NOT foods containing mostly sugar or low fat savoury foods.
 
This is what research has to say. The vast majority of the community has misinterpreted these research studies. These are done primarily in rodents who were restricted from sugar for a stipulated time period. It suggests that foods that are hyper palatable (ie; taste good) have greater reward value. These are also energy dense in nature. Sugar addiction as a stand alone has very limited and weak evidence. It is imperative to understand this as demonising sugar is a reductionist approach. Next time someone says sugar addiction is real, you know exactly what blog post to show them!

REFERENCES:

1. Hernandez L, Hoebel B. Food reward and cocaine increase extracellular dopamine in the nucleus accumbens as measured by microdialysis. Life Sciences. 1988;42(18):1705-1712.
2. Westwater M, Fletcher P, Ziauddeen H. Sugar addiction: the state of the science. European Journal of Nutrition. 2016;55(S2):55-69.
3. N. Gearhardt A, Davis C, Kuschner R, D. Brownell K. The Addiction Potential of Hyperpalatable Foods. Current Drug Abuse Reviews. 2011;4(3):140-145.
4. Krieger J. No, you’re not addicted to sugar [Internet]. Weightology. 2017.

You’re eating a banana while working. You suddenly notice an email from your boss that you haven’t replied to. You shove the banana down your throat and your fingers swiftly start typing a reply, while you struggle to chew the banana. You are done typing a few seconds later, but notice that your banana is gone! You check under your desk, maybe you’ve dropped it? Then it hits you. You’ve eaten it, but it doesn’t feel like it at all!

Could you relate to the above?

When was the last time you really had a look at what was on your plate and enjoyed a meal? With technology entering every aspect of our lives in addition to ‘hustling’ (read: being busy) 24 x 7, we seldom pay attention to the food we eat. We mindlessly eat what is within our reach, not realising the consequences. We wolf down our food without chewing, phone in hand and rush to our laptops to send out emails. What can be a good 10-15 minutes spent on just eating is now a 5 minute hastily done job!

Mindfulness is defined as being aware or conscious of something.  Mindful eating involves being aware of the food you eat and getting rid of distractions that might interfere with your eating experience. It also involves noticing the texture, the colour and flavor of the food. Mindful eating primarily relies on hunger and satiety cues, to initiate eating. Further, it incorporates the practice of not being critical or judgemental of the food you are eating . For example, if you really want a doughnut, by all means eat it. Do not label it as a ‘bad’ food. By looking at the first few principles, it is clear that we do not adhere to it,considering our busy lives.

But how do we incorporate mindful eating on a daily basis? This is very simple:

  • Eat when you are hungry
  • Differentiate between actual hunger, boredom, stress and other emotions
  • Ensure that when you eat a meal, you do not have any distractions. This means, no screens
  • Try and eat in silence
  • Chew your food thoroughly
  • Notice the texture, flavour and smell of what is in front of you
  • Eat until you are nearly full

These can be used as starting points to slowly adopt mindful eating as a habit. Start by applying these principles to one meal a day, and then gradually increasing the frequency. Mindless eating habits often takes a toll on our health. Being aware of what we eat and how we eat also matters.

REFERENCES:

  1. Nelson J. Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat. Diabetes Spectrum. 2017;30(3):171-174.
  2. Harvard Health Publishing. 8 steps to mindful eating – Harvard Health [Internet]. Harvard Health. 2019. 

Our society has solely been focussing on ‘weight loss’ for a long time now. With the increasing number of individuals buying into the trend of fad diets, it is alarming to see the lengths to which people are willing to go, in order to lose weight. Avoiding carbohydrates, following extremely restrictive diets just before a special occasion, fasting for days together… The list is endless! All this makes me question What is our relationship with food like? Do we look at it as something to nourish us or something that we fear?
This article aims to throw light on our relationship with food. Beyond diets and weight loss, there are several factors that need to be looked at. Scaremongering is very common in the fitness industry and has lead to many of us having a skewed relationship with food.
For instance, When someone is on a ‘diet’ or is looking to change their habits for the better, they automatically assume that the only approach to do so is to be restrictive. This leads to an extremely rigid mentality, which we call ‘dichotomous thinking’. Dichotomous thinking is defined as thinking in terms of binary oppositions such as “good or bad”, “black or white”, or “all or nothing” (1). How does this apply to nutrition? A classic example of this would be ‘clean eating’. ‘Clean eating’ is a trend that has been growing rampantly and involves consumption of whole foods with no inclusion of processed foods. Now, this may look harmless, but invariably this trend has assigned moral values to food. Whole foods are ‘good’ and processed food is ‘bad’. With scant disregard to energy balance, we have assumed that eating ‘clean food’ has the ability to elicit weight loss and has a higher moral value. In contrast, ‘junk food’ is looked upon as inherently ‘bad’ and ‘unclean’. This tends to create fear or anxiety around ‘bad’ foods in the long run. Dichotomous thinking is not only restricted to food, but also weight (acceptable vs unacceptable) and diets (on a diet vs off a diet) (2).
To start with, I’m going to clear one myth that never seems to die in this field. No single food can cause weight loss or weight gain. No single food is inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Assigning moral values to food and weight is problematic. In fact, rigid dietary control is often characterized by dichotomous thinking. Further, those engaging in rigid dietary methods are more likely to report symptoms of eating disorders, mood disturbances, higher anxiety and excessive concern with body size/shape compared to those with flexible dietary strategies (3). This is definitely a cause for concern. In contrast to rigid and restrictive eating patterns, a more flexible approach seems to have a positive effect on behaviours (4).
So how do you change your mindset? While this takes time, if you do have anxiety issues around certain food, the first step would be to stop ‘dieting’. Approach a professional specialising in eating disorders/disordered eating. Your relationship with food is a lot more important than you think. Restrictive eating and dieting only does more damage than good in the long run. Understand that any food in isolation is neither harmful nor beneficial. Some foods happen to be more nutrient dense than their counterparts. This article does not mean to imply that you now have a freeway to load up on cakes and pastries, nor does it say you need to only eat salads. The purpose of this article is to make you aware that extreme restriction is problematic. Learning a more flexible approach, instead of assigning labels to food improves your relationship with food and leads to a healthier lifestyle, both mentally and physically.

References:

(1) Oshio, A. Development and validation of the Dichotomous Thinking Inventory. Social Behaviour and Personality. 2009; 37(6):729-741.
(2) Dove, ER, Byrne, SM, Bruce, NW. Effect of dichotomous thinking on the association of depression with BMI and weight change among obese females. Behaviour and Research Therapy.2009;47(6):529-534.
(3) Stewart, TM, Willaimson, DA, White, MA. Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese women. Appetite. 2002;38(1):39-44.
(4) Smith, CF, Williamson, DA, Bray, GA, Ryan, DH.Flexible vs. Rigid Dieting Strategies: Relationship with Adverse Behavioral Outcomes. Appetite.1999;32(3):295-305.
(5) Palascha A, van Kleef,E, van Trijp, HC. How does thinking in Black and White terms relate to eating behavior and weight regain?Journal of Health Psychology. 2015;20:638-648.

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