Jet Lag Could Make You Gain Weight

Ever wonder what effects jet lag really has on you? We all know that feeling of being dragged down, tired, but there is a third pain. All that junk food you also tend to eat when you’re jet lagged, it’s because the bacteria in your gut is also tired. They help you to keep everything on schedule. The bacteria in your gut helps you to digest and keep things balanced. When your bacteria isn’t happy, you’re not happy, and your pants aren’t going to fit so well.

Eran Elinav MD, PhD of the Weizmann Institute of Science and lead author of the most recent study says, These findings provide an explanation for a long-standing and mysterious observation, namely that people with chronically disturbed day-night cycles due to repetitive jet lag or shift work have a tendency to develop obesity and other metabolic complications.

Elinav has high hopes for the future, that this will lead to future treatments for jet lag and obesity. Specifically, he wants to be able to help people with more erratic schedules to be able to lose or control their weight. Until that time that we have a cure, here are a few basic tips on how to handle your jet lag:

  1. Keep It Simple: Stick to a simple regimen. Rule out as many complications as you can. Ruth Sorotzkin MD, an internist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA says, If it doesn’t have to be done then don’t do it. This could be things varying from complicated work meetings to large meals with family and friends or elaborate meals you have to cook. Give your body some time. Some people do better than others. But don’t get into too much too fast.
  2. Drink More Water: You can stay hydrated on the plane, before, and after your flight. Drink plenty of water throughout, and eat small, light, frequent meals to keep your digestive system functioning, but not overworked. Also don’t be afraid to take short naps. Your body needs it.
  3. Get Some Exercise: Exercise can be amazing. It gets your blood flowing, lets you beat it out, and it actually helps your body to reestablish its timelines. Sorotzkin explains, As soon as you land try and take a walk outside in the fresh air and where you can see the light and feel the sun. According to experts, one of the most powerful tools we have to reset our internal clocks is natural sunlight.
  4. Get a Probiotic Supplement: Probiotic supplements can help you to rebalance and fortify your immune system by balancing out the gut bacteria. Taking them during your trip can help you to avoid a lot of the unpleasant tummy side effects of jet lag.

How To Prevent Winter Weight Gain

It’s something we spend plenty of time talking about. You gain weight during the winter, in part because outdoor exercise is not so available, and you gain weight. On top of that, you have Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other heavy eating occasions. Yes, there are plenty of people who like to blame a hibernation theory. You’re not a bear, or some other hibernating animal. It’s not the temperatures that lead to weight gain, it’s your habits.

Without question, some outside activities are more fun, and you can still go snowshoeing for example in the winter. In addition, if you’re used to running outside, there’s really no reason why you can’t also run on the treadmill. You don’t have to overeat, and frankly, that is a considerable part of the winter weight gain issue. It’s not about the season, it’s about your dietary and exercise changes. So what do you do?

  1. Focus on maintenance – It’s easy to focus on extreme dieting just for the winter season when it doesn’t have to be that hard. Instead of pigging out throughout the season, it’s better to try sticking to your summer diet as much as possible. Avoid the unnecessary changes you’re used to. It’s not uncommon for people, especially those who are already overweight, to go overboard over the season. Over time, these pounds can add up quickly, and if you simply maintain, you won’t have to deal with this.
  2. Each meal isn’t your last – This sounds dramatic, but it’s true. Especially with holiday and other family meals, we eat like there’s no tomorrow and we have to eat it all RIGHT NOW! You don’t have to, and that’s exactly the kind of eating that leads to weight gain in the first place. Try stopping when you’re full. Stop after one plate. Moderate your own eating.
  3. Learn to say no – You don’t have to eat another piece of cake. You won’t kill your mom if you don’t have another serving of her world famous stuffing. It’s okay to say I’ve had enough. You have the right to leave leftovers and eat it on other days or leave it for others. Have predetermined meals. Random snacking with calories you’re not officially counting as real meals can really do you a serious disservice.
  4. Don’t get stuck in your mistakes – We all make mistakes. We all eat an extra piece of cake on a special occasion. Get over it and move on. Tomorrow is another day. Lunch is another meal. Move on and do better rather than completely crashing and giving up. If you eat too much, consider exercising a little more intensely or longer that day. One meal or one treat is not going to make or break your diet or make you gain all that winter weight you’ll have to shed later on.
  5. Buffets and open bars are not your friend – Believe it or not, the open bar situation is not your friend, nor are buffets. Many of us lose track of how much we eat or drink when there are these open options right in front of us. If you are at a party with that kind of open table or bar, try limiting yourself. Get a smaller plate for food and keep track of your plates of food. Try counting your drinks a little bit more carefully.
  6. Think about why you’re eating – Are you actually hungry? Are you actually craving something? Are you just eating for the sake of eating to keep up with everyone else? Maybe you’re in an eating contest, and you have to win. Some reasons are perfectly valid while others should be avoided. Be conscious of the reasons why you may be eating right now. One of the easiest problems to fall into is emotional eating. The holidays can be a turbulent time, and emotional eating tends to throw healthy habits and better diet control out the window.
  7. Remember to get some sleep – Don’t forget to get your sleep. I know, it’s easy to get caught up in all the holiday fun and various events, both with friends and family. If you get less sleep, you are more likely to get more stressed, not exercise, eat when you don’t need to, and do things that may lead to that weight gain we all dread during the winter.

If you keep these basic factors in mind, you can maintain better control over your weight. You don’t have to be a slave to winter weight gain. Sometimes, it’s as easy as just remembering the habits you already maintain during the other 3 seasons.

The Problem With Hidden Eating Disorders

When you think of an eating disorder, you think of a skinny little girl who looks like a walking skeleton. There are people who don’t fit that mold though. Maybe they’re not skinny enough to be sick. Maybe they were obese before, and now you think they’re finally getting healthy. As Brittany Miles, a woman who had struggled with a less obvious eating disorder, puts it, Just because my bone structure stopped me from being the size 00 everyone pictures, doesn’t mean that I wasn’t in an incredibly unsafe and unhealthy place.

A person’s weight or physical appearance is not the only thing that can indicate an eating disorder, but it’s often the default thing we look for. It can cause incidents like that of Frances Chen being nearly expelled for being unable to gain weight when her family is actually naturally thin. There are also some who actually gain weight with bulimia.

Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) says, Weight can be an indicator of an eating disorder, but it certainly isn’t the only one or even the best one.

Our society faces some serious misunderstandings and confusions about what we see as an eating disorder, and it’s not just our family or friends. Your doctor can, and sometimes does, miss the signs. Grefe adds, It used to be that a girl had to miss her period for a certain amount of time to be considered anorexic, but that is no longer true. The most important thing in diagnosing an eating disorder is the mental part of it. It is the obsession with food, the nagging thoughts, the consumption.

There are those hidden eating disorder stories that end happily. Someone recognizes them, they get help, and they are able to recover. Unfortunately, especially when they don’t fit our expectations of what an eating disorder is, there are many more who fly under the radar until it’s too late.

When Green Tea Is A Bad Thing

Green tea has been talked about as some miraculous supplement. Year after year, they have talked about all of the benefits, saying that it can help you to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, and so on down the line. However, in other news, the benefits of green tea have been downplayed to a considerable degree, and more than that, there are some who suggest that it may not be as safe as they want you to think.

The American College of Gastroenterology and offered new recommendations about green tea, suggesting that it could actually cause toxic liver failure.

Catechins are key here. Yes, they have been called out for being healthy, fat burners, cholesterol lowering antioxidants even. The problem that many don’t realize is that it’s very possible to have too much of a good thing. Catchins target the mitochondria powerhouse cells, and they stop them from metabolizing your food for energy according to research, which could lead to jaundice, hepatitis, or liver failure according to study authors including Herbert Bonkovsky MD.

The National Institutes of Health estimate that unregulated supplements have a direct connection to 20% of drug-related liver injuries. Despite what you may think, it takes a surprisingly small dose to do this much damage. So it’s best to tone it down. You should limit yourself to a maximum of 500mg per day, if even that. Proceed with caution as some supplements researchers tested had 700mg in just one capsule.

Bonkovsky says, There isn’t any need to take these supplements, and when you look at the actual scientific evidence, the benefits of green tea are small to nil. A bit harsh? You would think, but then again, I tend to trust the research of a qualified doctor over the commercials simply designed to sell you something.

Why Do We So Often Choose Junk Food Over Veggies

We have this nasty habit of implicitly making the choice. We choose unhealthy foods over fruits and veggies, even though we know they’re unhealthy. According to a new study by researchers at McGill University at the Montreal Neurological Institute, this is because our brains implicitly value and want higher calorie foods.

The researchers surveyed participants, asking them about how much money they would spend on junk foods and healthier foods. They used participants who had never dieted before. So they didn’t really necessarily know how many calories were in any given food, but they consistently were willing to pay more for the junk food.

Alan Dagher, neurologist at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital explained that when you eat, the nutrients obviously go to your brain, setting off pleasure responses. Our brains learn what nutrients are present in the foods we consume. This is necessary, because humans are omnivores – we eat all kinds of things. So our bodies have to tell us what we need so that we shape our diets.

When you make your food choices, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex looks at it and makes decisions. Dagher says, It’s the part of the brain that calculates value. In our study, that area of the brain tracked calorie density. This suggests that the caloric density of food is what determines the value. In other words, the brain thinks about calories, not vitamins or proteins.

It’s all instinctual and based in history. If you come across a plentiful food supply, you can consume that now, store the calories as fat, and then you’ll have them to burn later on. This was advantageous until maybe 30 years ago. It’s only recently that we have very cheap food year-round.

So maybe it was not that people were making healthier food choices in past generations. They just didn’t have the reliable supply of food coming in….I wouldn’t personally put that as recently as 30 years though.

How Much Cancer Is Obesity Causing?

The debate rages on about whether or not obesity is really harmful. There are those who believe it’s just a function of society. Others see signs of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and of course joint damage due to the extra pressure placed on the joints. Unfortunately, while the link between obesity and type 2 diabetes or heart disease has been well established, it is now official that cancer is also walking hand in hand with it.

Researchers have been working on this for a while. They officially gathered thousands of samples in 2002 in 184 different countries. Then they looked at cancer rates in 2012. Those who has previously been measured with obesity had higher rates of colon, kidney, pancreatic, and postmenopausal cancers as it turned out.

But it’s worse than that. With something like colon or kidney cancer, most could easily see the connection. However, you might not see it initially. Researchers weren’t expecting to find 3.6% of new cases of cancer in 2012 (including skin cancer) being directly connected to cancer. According to researchers, it even explained why women had more cancer than men.

So how does all of this work? The exact connection varies between individuals according to researchers. Hormones seem to be a key part of obesity that can disrupt all of these different parts of your body into a state of cancer. George Wang, professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University and a researcher of obesity and cancer risk says, Using animal models, we believe it’s mostly relate to hormone changes with obesity. For example, for breast cancer, one of the pathways is related to hormones that are produced by fat tissue and can lead to cancer development.

According to Wang, there is one hormone meant to stimulate healthy cell growth called IGF-1. He reports, It’s what we call a survival hormone. In healthy people, it prevents apoptosis, or programmed cell death. The problem is, obese people’s level of IGF-1 may be twice that of a normal-weight person, allowing cells to proliferate too quickly. We believe that increases cancer risk.

So what about the growing obesity rates? If the average BMI had stayed the same as it was in 1982, experts estimated that we could have prevented 118,000 new cases of cancer in 2012 alone. There are of course other reasons why our cancer rates are as high as they are. Study co-author Nirmala Pandeya says, Other important risk factors for cancer, such as smoking, are declining, but we see the proportion of overweight and obese men and women still rising in most countries. If this trend continues we are likely to see an increasing number of people diagnosed with cancers that could have been avoided by maintaining a healthy weight.

It is critical to stop obesity now, not just because of the cancer risk of course, but because of all of the factors. However, this is just one more piece of evidence that has been added to the pot

Natural Ingredients That May Be Bad For You

If you walk down any drug store aisle or hop online, you can find a plethora of natural beauty items or health supplements that supposedly help you to feel and be more radiant. There are still some serious safety concerns, but obviously the marketers hope you will never find out about those. The government has tried to crack down to a certain degree, but there are always those paid off in the higher echelons of the government to try to squash that kind of movement.

Just because something is labeled as being natural doesn’t mean that it is guaranteed to be safe. The idea of being natural isn’t even strictly defined. It has no requirements, especially when it comes to cosmetics. As Dr Shari Lipner, dermatologist at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City puts it, If you go to the FDA’s website, they don’t have a definition of natural. There’s no regulatory definition in cosmetic labeling. I think people probably think natural means that it’s derived from plants, and they think it’s somehow healthier, but that’s not necessarily true.

There are some products that are natural that rely on certain essential oils that are safe. There are some that may even be better for your skin. For example, tea tree oil is not as harsh on your skin as benzoyl peroxide. But don’t swallow it. Ingested internally, it can be toxic. There are others that are less dangerous, but don’t assume anything unless you know the particular ingredient.