‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Don't Forget to Exercise

You already know there are a multitude of benefits to exercising. You may not know quite the extent and reach of these benefits. Wait for it... Well, maybe run for it...

Several new studies investigated physical activity and it's relationship to cognition. As we get older, we tend to have more "senior moments" or "tip-of-the-tongue" moments where we can't quite remember something but we know we know it. Instead of flopping your fingers over the keyboard typing into Google, it's time to get those flabby arms 'a flapping!
One study found that healthy older adults have more of these "senior moments" compared with young adults. This may also happen to new mothers... Been there.
But seriously, here's a brief overview of several recent studies showing your brain's health is linked to exercise:
  • One study found physical activity intensity was associated with improved performance on several cognitive assessment tasks
  • Another study found that higher aerobic fitness levels decreased the probability of "senior moments" in healthy older adults
    • This study further demonstrated a link between aerobic fitness and language functioning in older adults
    • Perhaps a fit older person could write me a funny joke about hemorrhoids and steroids?
  • A study investigating adults with mild cognitive impairment found subjects receiving cognitive exercises, physical exercises, and music therapy had significantly improved levels of cognition compared to the control group (no intervention) whose cognitive status significantly worsened
    • Yes, that means the exercise/intervention group's mild cognitive impairment improved, while the no-exercise group's got worse
  • Another study found the duration of exercise (>1 hour/day) increased cortical thickness in various areas of the brain 
    • Thinning of these areas is associated with age-related deterioration and Alzheimer's Disease
    • Interestingly, frequency and intensity were not associated significantly with cortical thickness (in this study)
    • The study also found a benefit to education level preventing cortical thinning
Since we're talking about brains. I wanted to pour a little nutrition into this piece too: an article released this week found eating a higher quality diet (you know, one that includes lots of fruits, veg, fish, nuts, whole grains, dairy, and limits sugary drinks) correlated to larger brain volume than those who ate poorer quality diets. Also noteworthy is that our brain volume declines with age, so high quality diets may help slow this process, keeping our brain younger.

What did we learn?
  1. Don't forget to exercise (get it?)
  2. Exercise and a high quality diet can help keep our brains from expiring prematurely 
  3. This research adds to the existing (aged) body of evidence (see what I did there?) that brain health is tied to external factors like diet and physical activity
Here's a good place to get started if you're looking to get more physically active.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

One Easy Thing You Can Do to Prevent Weight Gain

In the battle of the bulge, there is one easy thing dietitians tell their clients that they CAN do, rather than focus on all the things not to do and not to eat. Though, personally I like to make the liberating statement "don't 'diet', restrict, or count calories", these behaviours are totally counter-productive to health and enjoying life (truly, research says so.)

You're dying to know the secret, right? Well, the secret is: It's not a secret, it's not a gimmick, it's not hard, it doesn't cost anything, and YOU already control it. Ready?

Chew more and eat slower!

Too simple? But not really. A recent study of more than 59 thousand people compared "fast", "normal", and "slow" eaters. The findings are fascinating, worth sinking your teeth into (slowly - get it?)
  • Stats of the slow-eating group:
    • Significantly higher number of women
    • Lower average BMI (22.3kg/m2)
    • Lower number of obese people (21.5%)
    • Smaller average waist circumference (80.1cm)
    • Consumed less alcohol, and less frequently
    • Lower number of habitual smokers
  • Facts from the fast-eating group:
    • Significantly less women
    • Significantly higher average BMI (25.0 kg/m2)
    • More obese people (44.8%)
    • Larger average waist circumference (86.8cm)
Proposed reasons for this association are that eating slowly and chewing helps increase feelings of fullness and satiety before an excess amount of food/calories are consumed. There's a whole complex system of hormones and gut bacteria at play here.

The study found that decreasing eating speed can lead to reductions in BMI, waist circumference, and obesity.

Two more things the study found to help curb weight gain:
  1. Not eating after dinner
  2. Not eating within two hours of sleeping
Avoiding these help reduce excess body weight. Studies have found people who snack after dinner and within two hours of sleeping have a higher likelihood for metabolic syndrome.

A few points to tie this all together:
  • Dieting, restriction, and rules around food cause more problems than they solve: Often leading to a preoccupation with food, an increased likelihood of binge eating, weight regain, psychological problems, yoyo dieting, and development of disordered eating patterns. Further reading here, here, here
  • Lack of sleep wrecks havoc with hormones that are related to food consumption like hunger, fullness, and metabolism
  • Mindfulness or "intuitive eating" are terms that crop up in the above articles. Basically, savouring and enjoying your food includes eating more slowly and being "present". This kills two birds with one stone: Eating slower and taking the time to really enjoy your meal/treat without depriving yourself
Food and eating are enjoyable parts of the human experience. Memories with friends and family usually stem from social time involving food. Taking a straw and sucking the fun out of food... sucks...