Category Archives: Unhealthy behaviors

New research shows smoking habits can be curbed with Omega-3s

omega 3Whether you’re trying to kick the habit or trying to help a loved one or a friend, there’s great new research out that links a simple supplement to curbing smoking habits.

Taking omega-3 supplements reduces craving for nicotine and even reduces the number of cigarettes that people smoke a day, according to a new study conducted at the University of Haifa. “The substances and medications used currently to help people reduce and quit smoking are not very effective and cause adverse effects that are not easy to cope with. The findings of this study indicated that omega-3, an inexpensive and easily available dietary supplement with almost no side effects, reduces smoking significantly,” said Dr. Sharon Rabinovitz Shenkar, head of the addictions program at the University of Haifa’s school of criminology department and of the psychopharmacology laboratory at Bar-Ilan, who conducted this study.

Chronic exposure to smoke-derived toxicants is the primary cause of progressive pulmonary and immune dysfunctions, as well as carcinogenesis Cigarette smoking is connected not only to cardiovascular dysfunction, immune system dysfunction and cancer, it also reduces the levels of essential fatty acids in the brain, especially that of omega-3. A deficiency in omega-3 damages the cellular structure of nerve cells and interrupts neurotransmission in areas of the brain involved with feeling pleasure and satisfaction. These areas are essential in reward and decision-making, and are very important in the process of the development, maintenance and relapseof the addiction and to the inability to stop smoking. In simpler terms, omega-3 deficiency makes it harder for the smoker’s body to deal with its craving for another cigarette. “Earlier studies have proven that an imbalance in omega-3 is also related to mental health, depression and the ability to cope with pressure and stress. Pressure and stress, in turn, are associated with the urge to smoke. It is also known that stress and tension levels rise among people who quit smoking. Despite all this, the connection between all these factors had not been studied until now,” Dr. Rabinovitz Shenkar said.

The current study adhered to a strict methodology (double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled) and included forty-eight smokers aged eighteen to forty-five who smoked at least ten cigarettes a day during the previous year, and an average of fourteen cigarettes a day. They were diagnosed as having a moderate dependency on nicotine. In total, the average age of the participants was twenty-nine and the average age they began smoking was under eighteen (in other words, they had been smoking for an average of eleven years). The participants were divided into two groups: One group received omega-3 capsules — “Omega-3 950″ produced by Solgar who donated the capsules for the study; the second group received a placebo. The participants were asked to take five capsules a day for thirty days and in total reported taking more than ninety-four percent of the capsules. At no stage in the study were the participants asked to stop smoking.

The levels of nicotine craving and consumption were checked using a series of scales regarding various aspects related to smoking urges, such as lack of control over tobacco use, anticipation of relief and satisfaction from smoking, and to the number of cigarettes smoked each day. These levels were measured at the beginning of the study, after thirty days (of treatment) and after sixty days (i.e., thirty days after stopping to take the capsules). Each time the study participants were tested they abstained from smoking for two hours and were then exposed to smoking-related cues images in order to stimulate their craving for nicotine.

The findings show that while no difference was found between the groups at the beginning of the study, after thirty days the smokers who had taken omega-3 reduced their cigarettes by an average of two a day (an eleven-percent decrease), even though they were not asked to change their smoking habits in any way. No less important, they showed a significant decrease in nicotine craving. After another thirty days of not taking anything, cigarette cravings increased slightly but still remained significantly lower than their initial level. In other words, the craving to smoke cigarettes did not return to the baseline level even a month after stopping to take the supplement. In the meantime, the group receiving the placebo did not show any significant changes in their craving levels or in the number of cigarettes they smoked a day during the sixty days.

According to Dr. Rabinovitz Shenkar, the finding that people who were not interested in stopping to smoke showed such a significant change reinforces the assumption that taking omega-3 can help smokers to regulate their addiction and reduce their smoking. Further research will indicate whether the supplement is also effective in stopping to smoke.

FoodFacts.com knows that most in our community are exceptionally health conscious and aware. But we all know people who have had a problem quitting smoking. It’s not an easy challenge and many of those we love can’t seem to overcome their addiction. This is great information to pass on. Omega-3 supplements are relatively inexpensive and easy to incorporate into one’s lifestyle. You don’t need a prescription. You aren’t putting more nicotene into your system and you won’t be inhaling controversial ingredients. Omega-3 supplements to reduce smoking frequency — let’s make sure this one gets around!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141106101903.htm

Don’t eat that! It will spoil your appetite! Junk food just might do exactly what your mother warned you about …

Assorted Junk FoodYou have at least one memory from your childhood featuring your mom or your grandmother or some other well-meaning adult admonishing you in a harsh tone. “Don’t eat that! It will spoil your appetite!” It might have been cookies, or candy or chips. Inevitably, it was very close to dinner time. And odds are, you weren’t pleased by the words.

As it turns out, junk food really might spoil your appetite — on a more permanent basis.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales Australia conducted several studies to see how junk food would impact rats’ weight and dietary preferences. Of course, they found the obvious—junk food “makes rats fat.” But they also determined that junk food-fed rats experienced a reduced desire for novel foods, which is important as this appetitive tendency, innate in animals, typically encourages rats’ to pursue a balanced diet.

“Eating junk food seems to change the response to signals that are associated with food reward,” commented Prof. Margaret Morris, Head of Pharmacology from the UNSW Australia’s School of Medical Sciences and a study co-author.

How did the researchers come to this conclusion?

For several weeks, the team fed one group of animals a diet of healthy rat food, and they fed another group of rats a diet that included not-so-healthy human foods such as pie, dumplings, cookies and cake. Both groups of rats were also given cherry and grape sugar water to drink. The junk food-fed rats wound up weighing 10 percent more than their healthy food-fed counterparts.

In one of the experiments, the team taught these rats to associate cherry and grape sugar water with different sound cues. The healthy rats responded appropriately to the sound cues—that is, if they had just consumed grape sugar water and then heard another cue for grape sugar water, they wouldn’t drink more of it. Junk food-fed rats, on the other hand, would respond to sound cues in an unhealthy manner—if they heard a noise associated with grape sugar water, they would drink said sugar water even if they had just consumed a lot of it. (The same findings hold for cherry sugar water.)

In other words, it appears junk food-fed rats don’t seem to realize when they’ve overindulged in a food (the flavored sugar water); instead, they respond to the sound cues just the same, whereas healthy rats stop responding to the food they just ate.

“We know a lot about food and nutrition and what we should be doing, and yet we’re getting fatter and fatter,” Morris says. “Our sort of diet appears to override an animal’s ability to know it’s just eaten something—they’re just eating indiscriminately, if you will.”

In another experiment, the researchers wanted to see whether the apparent disruption of the reward mechanism persisted after the junk food-fed rats were placed on a healthy diet. Even after a week on healthy rat chow, the formerly junk food-fed rats still acted the same way, treating both solutions indiscriminately, according to Morris.

“It suggests that whatever changes happen in the brain may persist for a while,” she says.

The study, while pertaining to rats, has a lot of troubling implications for humans. Rat behavior often gives insight into human behavior—which means we should think deeply about junk food’s psychological and public health impacts.

Science is constantly offering us new perspectives on our health and our foods. FoodFacts.com can say with confidence that those new perspectives simply uphold what nutritionists, dietitians, researchers, and educated consumers have known all along. Junk food is nutritionally vacant. What it does provide, unfortunately, are high levels of sugar, salt and fat, contributing to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. And according to the study detailed here, it can interfere with our normal tendencies to balance our diets, thus leading to more of the same. Now that’s a new perspective — not to mention yet another significant reason to stay far away from junk food.

http://www.newsweek.com/junk-food-addictive-avoid-trying-new-foods-266803

Teens consuming sports drinks and energy drinks more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors

Sports and Energy Drinks linked to unhealthy behaviors in teensFoodFacts.com has no doubt that, by now, most parents are fully engaged in dissuading their teens from the consumption of energy drinks. There’s been so much news about emergency room visits and deaths linked to these beverages. In addition, most parents of teens are aware that teenagers are particularly drawn to them. Just walking into your local convenience store after school hours will give you a clear picture of how true that statement actually is. And while sports drinks aren’t in the news for possible links to hospital visits and deaths, they’re certainly a subject of controversy. Both product categories contain too much sugar, bad ingredients, caffeine and possible stimulants. Both are nutritionally vacant. And both are unnecessary as part of any healthy diet.

Now a new study reveals that the consumption of these beverages may, in fact, be linked to other unhealthy behaviors in teenagers. Researchers at the University of Minnesota and Duke University in Durham, NC, have found an association between weekly consumption of sports and energy drinks and higher consumption of other sugary drinks, cigarette smoking and use of screen media.

The high sugar, calorie and caffeine content of sports and energy drinks is an area of concern for health care professionals and these drinks have experienced a surge in popularity in recent years. National data have shown that although there has been a fall in consumption of soft drinks and fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks have tripled in consumption among adolescents.

The researchers behind the new study – which is published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior – gathered data from 2,793 adolescents across 20 public middle and high schools in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area during the 2009-10 school year.
The students reported data on their height, weight, how often they drink sports and energy drinks, how often they eat breakfast, how much physical activity they engage in, how much time they spend playing video games and watching TV, and whether or not they smoke.

Despite consumption of sports drinks being linked to higher levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, overall, the researchers found that consumption of sports and energy drinks contributes to a growing cluster of unhealthy behaviors among adolescents.

The study finds a link between smoking, high consumption of other sugary drinks, and prolonged time watching TV or playing video games with weekly sports and energy drinks consumption.

Lead author Nicole Larson, PhD, from the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, explains:

“Among boys, weekly sports drink consumption was significantly associated with higher TV viewing; boys who regularly consumed sports drinks spent about 1 additional hour per week watching TV, compared with boys who consumed sports drinks less than once per week.

Boys who consumed energy drinks at least weekly spent approximately 4 additional hours per week playing video games, compared with those who consumed energy drinks less than once per week.”

Dr. Larson and her team say that future research and interventions should do more to promote healthy hydration habits in adolescents and target the clustering of behaviors that present health risks to youth.

The position on these drinks from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is that sports drinks should only be consumed by adolescents after vigorous and prolonged physical activity.

The AAP asserts that energy drinks, meanwhile, should not be consumed as they offer no health benefits and increase risks for overstimulation of the nervous system.
Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that around 73% of children consume caffeine on a daily basis. The CDC also reported that 20% of teenagers who consume energy drinks believe them to be safe.

A recent study from researchers at Iowa State University suggested that the drinks’ labeling may be to blame for the misperception of energy drinks as not being harmful. Current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines do not require caffeine and other stimulants to be listed in product labeling.

Also, although the FDA says that up to 400 mg of caffeine a day is not associated with adverse effects in adults, the administration has not issued any caffeine recommendations for children and adolescents.

We’re all aware that it’s harder to set rules for teenagers regarding food and beverage consumption. As our kids grow, they spend less time in the home. With after school activities, friends, sports and parties, teens are under the watchful eyes of their parents and caregivers less than they were when they were younger. Of course, we want that for them. A growing sense of independence is important for their development. Ultimately, we can’t forbid sports or energy drinks from them. What we can do, however, is engage them in honest conversation about the effects of these beverages. Studies have shown, that while they may not acknowledge it, the words of parents and caregivers have more influence over teen behaviors than many believe. These are important conversations. In addition to helping keep kids away from readily available beverages that can hurt their health, conversations like these can also turn their attention towards the importance of understanding what’s actually in the foods and beverages they choose to consume. And that can help them make better choices nutritionally for the rest of their lives.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/276411.php