May 2012 - Advanced Physical Medicine
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Why are we addicted to certain foods?

Sure, we hear the word "addicted" being thrown around all the time. Addiction may be loosely used to describe any intense craving or desire . . . or anything that we might humorously deem a "guilty pleasure." However, did you know that recent scientific findings seem to support the belief that sometimes we really are addicted to those things we love - namely food? How can this happen, and why are we addicted to certain foods? Read on for the scoop about this all-too common phenomenon:

Dopamine. Dopamine is the "happy chemical" that our brains release when our pleasure center is stimulated in the brain. Illicit drugs are known to stimulate dopamine, as is sex and gambling . . . and apparently certain foods. That's right - scientific studies show that our brains actually release dopamine just at the sight of foods we love. We don't even have to eat them. This difference - between stimulating the motivation circuits (just looking) and stimulating the reward circuits (actually eating) is equivalent to what a drug addict experiences when "craving" a drug that he or she is addicted to. That means that, biologically speaking, we actually fiend for food using exactly the same mechanism that a drug addict uses to fiend for drugs.

Obese versus non-obesity. In a very interesting study conducted by the United States Department of Energy, scientists found that drug addicts have less dopamine receptors than non-addicts. That means that their bodies are less able to absorb dopamine to get that good feeling we all crave, while non-addicts naturally just absorb more satisfying amounts of dopamine. Curiously, scientists conducting the same study found similar results when testing for dopamine receptors in obese people: those tested had less dopamine receptors than the non-obese people tested. This may account for unhealthy consumption behaviors associated with obesity, and is surely compelling evidence in the case of food as an addiction.

Ending food addiction: will-power versus genetics. Sure, we now know that some of us are simply genetically predisposed to food addiction - or really, addiction in general. Does that means that those of us with fewer dopamine receptors should just give up and admit defeat? Absolutely not. Studies also show that addiction can be overcome, and that the brain can be reprogrammed into new, different patterns that are not so self-destructive.

You don't have to count on will-power alone. There are some proven ways to win the battle against food addiction, and they include: avoiding the addictive foods altogether, maintaining a balanced blood sugar level, taking natural supplements to cut cravings, and getting the right amount of sleep.

Yes, unfortunately it seems that food addiction is real. That doesn't mean you have to let it win. Win the food addiction battle by arming yourself with knowledge. This article is a great start.

About the Author: Delsie Ninness used to be addicted to all sorts of processed foods. She now has a clean diet and practices intermittent fasting and enjoys healthy foods more than ever.

Fracture of the Fifth Metatarsal Bone

The New York Giants  suffered a setback today, as their player, Hakeem Nicks, sustained a fracture of his fifth metatarsal bone of the foot.  This player will have surgery and not practice for the next twelve weeks due to this injury.  Fifth metatarsal bone fractures are complicated and quite serious because the blood supply to this bone, especially the base, is not very strong.  This causes delayed healing of the bone, which can lead to prolonged pain, swelling, and disability.

The fifth metatarsal bone is located along the outside of the foot and is attached to the fifth toe.  Twisting the foot or ankle, falling, or abnormal pressure on this portion of the foot can cause the bone to break.   Often, the injured party will have immediate pain to the area which will make walking and standing difficult.  The fracture can be identified with X-rays in the majority of cases, but stress fractures (or hairline cracks) of this bone may be better visualized by MRI or CT scans.  The fracture can be treated conservatively with immobilization (casting) or surgery, and the direction for care usually depends on the activity level of the patient and whether the fracture is displaced (out of position).  Whether conservative or surgical care is chosen, initial healing take 6-8 weeks.  Following this, a course of physical therapy is often needed to increase strength, motion, and to get the patient back to their normal level of activity.  Additionally, a device called a bone stimulator may be needed to increase the rate of healing.

If you have a fifth metatarsal problem or question, please contact our offices for your appointment with Dr. Bender.  Oak Park 708-763-0580 and Chicago 773-776-3166.  Dr. Mary Ann Bender is a foot and ankle specialist who has been in practice for the last 11 years.  She is also an instructor at William Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine.

5 Bad Eating Habits that are Making you Gain Weight

When you’re trying to lose weight, it can make you do all sorts of crazy things. But a lot of the eating habits you acquire are actually making you gain pounds instead of shedding them. Here are five bad eating habits that are making you gain weight.

Eating Before Bed

No one wants to go to bed hungry, but going to bed with a recently-filled stomach is a bad idea. Eating a meal or a snack right at bedtime will stimulate your digestive system, possibly making it harder for you to fall asleep. Your digestive system slows while you’re sleeping, so the food you eat before bed is more likely to “stick” with you. Try not to eat at least three hours before bed, and especially avoid foods that are high in sugar and fat.

Skipping Breakfast

If you’re rushed in the morning and skip out on breakfast, you’re setting yourself up for failure in your diet. Even if you don’t think you’re that hungry, you must have at least something small in the mornings upon waking. Breakfast gets your metabolism going so it will be strong throughout the day. It boosts your energy. If you don’t eat breakfast, you’re likely to be much hungrier at lunchtime, which can lead to overeating or snacking on unhealthy foods.

Eating in Front of the TV

If you’re the type of person who likes to snack on something while watching TV, you need to banish food from the couch. Because you’re focusing on the TV show, you’re not focusing on how much you’re really eating. And because a TV show is usually a lot longer than it would take to eat a meal, you’re more tempted to get seconds in order to continue eating while the show is on. If you absolutely must eat while watching TV, bring only a portioned, appropriate amount of food with you, and resist the urge to get a refill on the commercial break.

Skipping Meals

It seems to make sense that if you eat less, you won’t gain as much weight. Lots of people take that logic to mean it’s a good idea to skip meals. Skipping meals is actually a bad thing to do, and it can make you gain weight. When you don’t eat regularly, your body will think it’s starving, and it will slow down its metabolism to keep you alive for longer. To avoid your body’s survival tactics, do not skip a meal or snack; eat something every four hours.  

Eating Too Quickly

When you’re short on time, you still need to eat, so you might end up rushing through your meal and eating as quickly as you can. But eating too quickly will lead to overeating, and you may not chew your food enough for proper digestion. It’s very important to slow down, take your time, and deliberately chew every bite. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to feel full, so eating slowly will give you time to feel full and know exactly when to stop.

Jennifer Hawkins is a restaurant owner and chef who specializes in recipes with nuts. She also blogs quite frequently and loves to give advice to other cooks or people with no culinary backgrounds.

Photo Credit: SteFou!

Common Causes and Treatments for Snoring

While the conversation “you snore, not me” can be heard across the country, snoring is no laughing matter.  Snoring is caused by the collapse of the soft tissues at the back of the throat during sleep.  This results in that familiar, reverberating sound.  Generally snoring is more common among those between 40 and 60, although people of any age can be affected.  Health professionals estimate that around 40 per cent of the population suffer from snoring and recognise three ‘grades’ of the condition.  Although common, snoring is often not considered serious by its sufferers – many are acutely embarrassed by it.  However, snoring can lead to serious health issues, both physical and emotional.  In addition to disturbed sleep – often for the snorer and their partner – snoring can lead to tiredness during the day and lack of concentration.  This in turn can have far reaching and potentially dangerous effects. 

The Types of Snoring

The three grades of snoring recognised by UK health professionals are:

  • Simple snoring; this is the mildest type and is characterised by low sound levels and infrequent snoring.  Normally breathing and sleep remain largely unaffected by this type of snoring and it may only occur occasionally.  Generally this type of snoring will not cause major health problems; however, it can lead to difficulties between couples which should not be ignored. 
  • The second type of snoring is generally classified as moderate.  Snoring will occur more frequently in this case, normally on several occasions throughout the week.  It is likely to affect the quality of sleep you experience which can leave you feeling drained and tired the next day.  Some minor breathing difficulties during sleep are also likely to occur, which again disturbs the sufferer. 
  • The most serious level of snoring is grade three; this type of snoring will take place every night and is audible beyond the individual’s own room.  Sleep Apnoea, commonly confused with snoring, can also occur in these cases.  Apnoea is the blockage of the airway for more than 10 seconds.  This category of snoring can lead to a range of issues which include disrupted sleep, tiredness and serious marital problems.

Causes and Effects

Snoring is more common amongst men than women and although prevalent in those over 40 it can affect people from childhood, or at any stage in their lives.  The most common factors that can influence snoring include; obesity, alcohol consumption and smoking.  In many cases, particularly less serious cases, lifestyle changes can be enough to reduce the level of snoring.

Snoring is known to contribute to increased risks levels of strokes or heart disease, in the longer term.  Short term effects include excessive tiredness and emotional problems.  Tiredness will affect a number of areas of your life, including work and it has been closely linked to road accidents.  Your ability to drive will be affected by tiredness, whatever the cause, but those who suffer from serious snoring conditions are believed to be most at risk. 

What are the Treatments?

There are a number of proven, effective methods to reduce or eliminate snoring.  These include strips or guards that can be fitted to the mouth or nose.  For those with the most severe cases of snoring a “stop snoring device” can be highly effective.  In the longer term medical advice is usually aimed at lifestyle changes – losing weight or stopping drinking or smoking.  A stop snoring device can be a useful tool to help in the meantime to improve the quality of sleep and relationships. 

Normally surgery for snoring is not considered appropriate as it is not proven to be completely successful and may have side-effects.  Never trivialise a snoring problem, or think that you should not see the doctor.  A doctor will always take snoring seriously – whether it is affecting you physically or causing relationship problems.  It is also important to understand that in the vast majority of cases, this common complaint can easily be alleviated.

Snoring can have serious medical implications – both physical and emotional.  Believed to affect around 40 per cent of the population it is an often overlooked condition.  Treatments, such as a stop snoring device, are readily available to help reduce snoring and combat its effects.

Five Great Ways to Live a Healthy and Happy Life

We all want to feel good and happy, and there’s no magic rule for everyone. It just comes down to our commitment to living a healthy lifestyle - maintaining positive attitude, exercising, and building up your fitness helps you keep up with the pace and demands of modern life.

Maintain positive thinking

The power of positive thinking helps you overcome obstacles.  Set a goal that you can reach gradually and give yourself a self-motivating talk even though challenges get in your way. Once you’ve reached your targets of each phase, no matter how small they are, make sure you reward yourself for getting there.  This will help maintain your motivation and positive thinking attitude.

Eat fruits and vegetables of different colours

Fruits and vegetables are critical to promoting good health.  In particular, eating fruits and vegetables of different colours gives your body a wide range of valuable and essential nutrients, like fibre, minerals, vitamins A and vitamins C.  Make sure you also try new fruits and vegetables regularly to get a healthy variety.

Make exercise a habit

We are all living busy lives, leaving exercise at the bottom of our-to-do list.  Not that we don’t know how important exercising is to us.  It just comes down to the challenges of having too much things to do in little time each day.  Very often, people think that a run or a workout at gym occupies too much of their time. If you just adjust slightly your daily routine by getting up earlier or taking a little bit lunchtime walking, you’ll make a difference to your life.  If you’d like to get some discipline at first, why not consider enrolling in a fitness course? Pace your condition and do whatever you can, even though it is just for 15 minutes.  What matter is that you make a slight change of your life pattern to fit exercise into your life and make it a habit!

Maintain the balance

Stay connected with our friends, clients or peers via social media has become part of most people’s daily routine – Twitter, blogging, Facebook and Pinterest.  However, we are very often too obsessed with social media and technology, working too hard on our brains. Don’t let that connectedness and engagement “hijack” our other hobbies or even our precious sleeping time.  After all, it’s a balancing act.

Learn to slow down

We have limited time and amount of energy in a day. It is salient for us to practise slowing down so as to experience the joy of a more relaxed way of life.  How about not rushing your lunch at work, watching your favourite TV programs after work, having a cup of herbal tea to calm you down at night, reading books or simply lying on your sofa for a good rest during weekends?  Allow yourself to do the stuff you like to do each day and you’ll feel rejuvenated on your mental state.

I hope the above tips will positively affect some facets of your life, leading you to functioning at your best.  You’ll feel happy, healthy, energized, and more confident on how you approach your personal and work situations.  What’s more, those around you will be imbued with your positive energy.

 

Sarah paige is a freelance writer who is interested in health and wellbeing.  She is researching fitness courses and hopes to get her certificate iv in fitness in not distant future.

 

How to be Healthy at Work

Working doesn’t mean that you have to stop living a healthy lifestyle. There is a misconception most people have about working and taking breaks in the office. They think that people who move around much while at work are either less busy, or are unserious. However, this is completely wrong! The fact is that such people are helping themselves and their work at the same time.Staying healthy while you are at work helps you feel better about yourself at different levels. This helps people to work more efficiently. Here are some ideas for people to be healthy at work:

Take Timely Breaks

This practice seems to be of little importance but has great impact on one’s health. Many workers skip breaks without thinking about it. Taking a break doesn’t mean you are less efficient. In fact, it is an observation that when people take timely breaks, they work better and faster. Even if it is a single break, it can make a big difference to your productivity.During the break, you must do something that motivates you. Try some exercise that will help you relieve stress. For example; walking a little is a great way of clearing your mind of confusion. Otherwise, you can simply sit in a quiet corner and read something that interests you.

Healthy Practices at Work

Make sure that your chair is comfortable. Stand up at intervals to straighten your back after at least an hour. Some people prefer to exercise while working. There are simple flexing exercises that you can try on your seat.

Healthy Diet

Healthy food is the key to quick responses. Make sure you eat healthily while you are at work. Instead of having chocolate as a quick fix, try eating a healthy meal. Avoid ordering fast food and junk snacks. Try fruits and nuts instead. These will help you resist the temptation to eat the wrong food.

Drink enough water during the day

This is something most working people ignore without realizing how dangerous it is. While we breathe, we lose a quarter of the total amount of water in our body. That’s estimated to be about ten glasses of water. Imagine the overall amount of water we lose through other vital activities. Loss of water without replacement contributes to building stress in our body.

Get Fresh Air!

Open the windows of your office and let fresh air in. We were not created to live on processed air coming from air conditioners. We need some fresh air and sunlight in the office to keep the environment healthy and refreshing.

De-clutter the Office

Clear your work table and the whole office. Clutter is not good for mental health. It has a subtle way of creating depression and confusion in our minds. A clean work environment is inspiring and helps one to work better and quickly.

 

Allan has been blogging for several years and has published numerous articles on various blogs. Allan's favourite topics include private health insurance, healthy living and fitness

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