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We know what to eat to stay healthy. So why is it so hard to make the right choices?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nina-van-dyke-822557">Nina Van Dyke</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/victoria-university-1175">Victoria University</a></em></p> <p>A healthy diet <a href="https://www.who.int/initiatives/behealthy/healthy-diet">protects us</a> against a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.</p> <p>From early childhood, we receive an abundance of <a href="https://cdn.who.int/media/docs/default-source/healthy-diet/healthy-diet-fact-sheet-394.pdf?sfvrsn=69f1f9a1_2&download=true">information</a> about how we <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating">should eat</a> to be healthy and reduce our risk of disease. And most people have a <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1186/1479-5868-11-63.pdf">broad understanding</a> of what healthy eating looks like.</p> <p>But this knowledge <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001209216310584?casa_token=6CZgCmT1RMgAAAAA:sSRsj2o6swVfvoBxMIVrMTxqdczSAiFwfTCYzYQ8U3z4ey_WLQ6knpmk8WRH77zugAS3wEAQrA">doesn’t always result</a> in healthier eating.</p> <p>In our new research, we set out to <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1186/s12889-024-18432-x.pdf">learn more</a> about why people eat the way they do – and what prevents them from eating better. Lack of time was a major <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/obr.12472?casa_token=1D1mi-l0TR0AAAAA:dgebTQx-wgw7jbREfdawxZ5AZSDRztvrt8t1tuKyDy1x2mmXlyLDY8z9NbUf0v4hnh80HY_RbAk08Q">barrier</a> to cooking and eating healthier foods.</p> <h2>How do you decide what to eat?</h2> <p>We spoke with <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1186/s12889-024-18432-x.pdf">17 adults</a> in a regional centre of Victoria. We chose a regional location because less research <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1186/s40900-020-0179-6.pdf">has been done</a> with people living outside of metropolitan areas and because rates of obesity and other diet-related health issues are <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/rural-remote-australians/rural-and-remote-health">higher</a> in such areas in Australia.</p> <p>Participants included a mix of people, including some who said they were over their “most healthy weight” and some who had previously dieted to lose weight. But all participants were either:</p> <ul> <li>young women aged 18–24 with no children</li> <li>women aged 35–45 with primary school aged children</li> <li>men aged 35–50 living with a partner and with pre- or primary-school aged children.</li> </ul> <p>We selected these groups to target <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022318212803669">ages and life-stages</a> in which shifts in eating behaviours may occur. Previous research has found younger women <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1470-6431.2007.00642.x?casa_token=33QKWwhc2ogAAAAA:ZvJ6wfXiRC_6eoqvoxD121JOSKSPmIRHcrdiGl2uHzkq5pY6VVPL6WI2DhmxQ2q9i6bBGvLiFl8afQ">tend to</a> be particularly concerned about appearance rather than healthy eating, while women with children often shift their focus to providing for their family. Men <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/obr.12472?casa_token=KakMB6hAOQ0AAAAA:fLnpoxZQiiJIdEkg_TOcCq8hBwZef1iZETZKTiG5W6zW2x_PYzK0oLeOg5F9arKThq9RzMWEi4x4Xw">tend to be less interested</a> in what they eat.</p> <p>We asked participants about how they decided what food to eat, when, and how much, and what prevented them from making healthier choices.</p> <h2>It’s not just about taste and healthiness</h2> <p>We found that, although such decisions were determined in part by taste preferences and health considerations, they were heavily influenced by a host of other factors, many of which are outside the person’s control. These included other household members’ food preferences, family activities, workplace and time constraints, convenience and price.</p> <p><a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2767106">Healthy eating</a> means consuming a balanced diet rich in nutrients, including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats, while limiting processed foods, added sugars and excessive salt. Healthy eating also includes how we eat and <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0244292">how we think about</a> food and eating, such as having a positive relationship with food.</p> <p>One 35- to 45-year-old woman, for example, said that time constraints and family preferences made it difficult to prepare healthier food:</p> <blockquote> <p>I love the chance when I can actually get a recipe and get all of the ingredients and make it properly, but that doesn’t happen very often. It’s usually what’s there and what’s quick. And what everyone will eat.</p> </blockquote> <p>One of the 35- to 50-year-old men also noted the extent to which family activities and children’s food preferences dictated meal choices:</p> <blockquote> <p>Well, we have our set days where, like Wednesday nights, we have to have mackie cheese and nuggets, because that’s what the boys want after their swimming lesson.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/joss.12649?casa_token=gsnU9O_G2GQAAAAA:mV2vtHlnEd0jqBGJPFkfml_ecLIDqwSlH5xksSwt4eQb_FP_UShyAKm9sLNnKy6Mkf2q9aKAlDEixA">Research shows</a> that children are often more receptive to new foods than their parents think. However, introducing new dishes takes additional time and planning.</p> <p>An 18- to 24-year-old woman discussed the role of time constraints, her partner’s activities, and price in influencing what and when she eats:</p> <blockquote> <p>My partner plays pool on a Monday and Wednesday night, so we always have tea a lot earlier then and cook the simple things that don’t take as long, so he can have dinner before he goes rather than buying pub meals which cost more money.</p> </blockquote> <p>Despite popular perceptions, healthy diets are not more expensive than unhealthy diets. A <a href="https://preventioncentre.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/1702_FB_LEE_4p_final_lr.pdf">study</a> comparing current (unhealthy) diets with what the <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/the-australian-dietary-guidelines">Australian Dietary Guidelines</a> recommend people should eat found that the healthy diet was 12–15% cheaper than unhealthy diets for a family of two adults and two children.</p> <p>However, learning and planning to prepare new types of meals <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/3/877">takes effort and time</a>.</p> <p>Simply educating people about what they should eat won’t necessarily result in healthier eating. People want to eat healthier, or at least know they should eat healthier, but other things <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s00394-017-1458-3.pdf">get in the way</a>.</p> <p>A key to improving people’s eating behaviours is to make it easy to eat more healthily.</p> <p>Policy changes to make healthy eating easier could include subsidising healthier foods such as fresh produce, providing incentives for retailers to offer healthy options, and ensuring access to nutritious meals in schools and workplaces.</p> <h2>So how can you make healthier food choices easier?</h2> <p>Here are five tips for making healthy choices easier in your household:</p> <ol> <li> <p>If certain days of the week are particularly busy, with little time to prepare fresh food, plan to cook in bulk on days when you have more time. Store the extra food in the fridge or freezer for quick preparation.</p> </li> <li> <p>If you’re often pressed for time during the day and just grab whatever food is handy, have healthy snacks readily available and accessible. This could mean a fruit bowl in the middle of the kitchen counter, or wholegrain crackers and unsalted nuts within easy reach.</p> </li> <li> <p>Discuss food preferences with your family and come up with some healthy meals everyone likes. For younger children, <a href="https://healthykids.nsw.gov.au/downloads/file/campaignsprograms/NewFoodsFussyEaters.pdf">try serving</a> only a small amount of the new food, and serve new foods alongside foods they already like eating and are familiar with.</p> </li> <li> <p>If you rely a lot on take-away meals or meal delivery services, try making a list ahead of time of restaurants and meals you like that are also healthier. You might consider choosing lean meat, chicken, or fish that has been grilled, baked or poached (rather than fried), and looking for meals with plenty of vegetables or salad.</p> </li> <li> <p>Remember, fruit and vegetables taste better and are often cheaper when they are in season. Frozen or canned vegetables are a <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/the-cost-of-fresh-fruit-and-veggies-is-rising-is-canned-or-frozen-produce-just-as-healthy/tzuhnfrnr">healthy and quick alternative</a>.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231489/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> </li> </ol> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nina-van-dyke-822557">Nina Van Dyke</a>, Associate Professor and Associate Director, Mitchell Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/victoria-university-1175">Victoria University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-know-what-to-eat-to-stay-healthy-so-why-is-it-so-hard-to-make-the-right-choices-231489">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

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Will watching the Olympic Games make you eat more?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/birau-mia-1238429">Birau Mia</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/em-lyon-business-school-2363">EM Lyon Business School</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carolina-o-c-werle-1434243">Carolina O.C. Werle</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grenoble-ecole-de-management-gem-2181">Grenoble École de Management (GEM)</a></em></p> <p>Ever wondered why you reach for a snack after hitting the gym? <a href="https://joe.bioscientifica.com/downloadpdf/view/journals/joe/193/2/1930251.pdf">Research shows</a> that physical exercise often leads to increased food consumption, whether it is treating yourself for a job well done or replenishing the energy you have burned. With countless sports events airing and our screens constantly filled with sports’ competitions, a new question arises: Can watching sports on a screen also influence how much we eat?</p> <p>The answer is yes. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0950329317300915">Our research</a> co-authored with <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jannine-lasaleta-94504987">Jannine Lasaleta</a> reveals that watching sports’ videos can increase candy consumption. But there is more to the story: the difficulty of the sports you are watching plays a crucial role in these effects.</p> <h2>From screens to junk food</h2> <p>We first invited 112 students to the <a href="https://www.grenoble-em.com/campus-gem-labs-grenoble">Grenoble Ecole de Management experimental lab</a> to watch a video and test some candies. Half of the students watched a video with men and women <a href="https://fr.adforum.com/creative-work/ad/player/51706/train-barefoot/nike">playing sports</a>, while the other half watched one <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyqR5yI6boo">without any physical activity</a>. We then gave each student a 70g cup of candy and asked them to judge its quality for three minutes. The students who saw the sports’ video ate more candy than those who saw the one without physical activity.</p> <p>Our initial test thus revealed that watching sports’ videos can boost candy consumption, but here’s the twist: male students indulged in far more candy than female students, so maybe the results were triggered by males’ consumption. Plus, we were still unsure if the type of sport watched affects the candy intake.</p> <p>To learn more, we invited just the female students to watch videos portraying either easy (light running) or difficult-to-perform sports (athletics long jump, gymnastics, baseball, rugby or rock climbing). After, the students were invited to test the same candies as before. Students who watched the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SMXKGE_u-Y">easy sports video</a> (showing a woman and a man running through different landscapes) ate much more candy (30.1 grams) than those who watched the <a href="https://fr.adforum.com/creative-work/ad/player/51706/train-barefoot/nike">difficult sports video</a> (18 grams).</p> <p>We can thus conclude that the ease or difficulty of the exercise shown significantly impacts candy consumption – watching easy-to-perform sports leads to considerably higher candy intake than watching difficult ones.</p> <h2>Why is this happening?</h2> <p>To explain our findings, we looked at research on <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jcr/article-abstract/32/3/370/1867208">goal motivation</a>. When people feel they are not meeting a goal, they push harder; but once they see progress, they tend to slack off. For example, after a workout, those aiming to stay fit might feel they have made good progress and then ease up on their efforts. This can lead to a drop in motivation to pursue related goals, like healthy eating. <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2006-09808-003">Research</a> shows that achieving smaller goals (like exercising) can make people feel they have earned a break, which can result in indulging more in food. So completing a workout might make you more likely to reward yourself with extra food than if you had not finished your session. And why are women more susceptible to the phenomenon of eating more candy after watching an easy-to-perform sports video? Simply because it has been long <a href="https://phys.org/news/2005-04-women-weight-men.html">shown</a> that women are more concerned with their weight than men and therefore their dieting goals are more salient.</p> <p>Our research suggests that merely watching sports can lead to a sense of vicarious fulfilment of fitness goals. When people can picture themselves doing the activity they are watching, they feel as though they have already exercised, which can lead to more-indulgent food choices. If they perceive the exercise shown as easy rather than difficult, they can more easily imagine themselves doing it, leading to greater feelings of progress toward their fitness goals. This perceived achievement can make them feel they have earned the right to indulge and influence their search for a reward, often resulting in increased food intake.</p> <h2>So what?</h2> <p>This knowledge can be used by policymakers or marketers who aim to encourage healthful lifestyles. When promoting healthy activities by picturing physical activity that seems too easy, people may feel a greater sense of achievement that could backfire and lead to increased consumption. We suggest showing an easy exercise (like walking or jogging) followed by a tougher one (like sprinting or marathon running) as an alternative solution. This approach can motivate people to start with basic exercises while reminding that there is still a long way to go to reach their fitness goals. This strategy could offer an alternative to promote physical activity without giving a false sense of accomplishment.</p> <p>So what is the takeaway for us? Be mindful of how watching sports can affect our eating habits. If you are aiming to stay on track with your diet, watch more challenging sports – it might just help you resist that extra chocolate bar. Moreover, when setting dieting goals, remind yourself that real progress comes from consistent effort, not just imagining yourself doing a workout. Engage in activities that genuinely challenge you, and pair them with mindful eating habits. This way, you can avoid the trap of feeling the fitness goal to be prematurely accomplished and then overindulging.</p> <p>In conclusion, should you watch the Olympic games if you want to keep up with your diet? Of course, but it might be better to choose the physical activities you find the most difficult to perform – and watch them without moderation.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231199/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/birau-mia-1238429">Birau Mia</a>, Associate Professor of Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/em-lyon-business-school-2363">EM Lyon Business School</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carolina-o-c-werle-1434243">Carolina O.C. Werle</a>, Professor of marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grenoble-ecole-de-management-gem-2181">Grenoble École de Management (GEM)</a></em></p> <p><em>Image </em><em>credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/will-watching-the-olympic-games-make-you-eat-more-231199">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Body

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“Grief eats you away”: Prince Harry's candid interview about losing his mother

<p>Prince Harry has spoken candidly about his ongoing struggles with grief following the death of his mother, the late Princess Diana, when he was just 12 years old. </p> <p>Upon his brief return to the UK, the Duke of Sussex opened up in a new interview as part of his role as global ambassador for Armed Forces charity Scotty’s Little Soldiers, who work to support children who have lost parents in the military, admitting that “grief eats you away”.</p> <p>Harry detailed how difficult it was losing his mother at such a young age, admitting he spent nearly two decades “not thinking” about her death and was forced to eventually get help after years of “total chaos”.</p> <p>He added that learning how to celebrate a late loved one is difficult for a child, as it made them “sad”.</p> <p>“But ­realising if I do talk about it, and I’m celebrating their life, then things become easier,” he said.</p> <p>Harry went on, “You convince yourself that the person you’ve lost wants you, or you need to be sad for as long as possible to prove to them that they are missed … Especially when every defence mechanism in your mind, nervous system and everything else is saying ‘do not go there.”</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/YY-W6VEXlZM?si=SBQyGGCKAOhELxlv" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>"But then there’s this realisation of, no, they must want me to be happy”.</p> <p>The 39-year-old royal shared how, after decades of silent mourning, he learned suppressing grief was “in fact not” the best form of coping with loss.</p> <p>“It can be for a period of time,” he went on to say.</p> <p>“But…if you suppress this for too long, you can’t suppress it forever it’s not sustainable and it will east away at you inside."</p> <p>“Once realising that if I do talk about it and I’m celebrating their life then actually things become easier.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: YouTube</em></p>

Caring

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5 ways your sleep affects what you eat

<p>We know a good night’s sleep is good for us but logging in those hours of sleep can be a difficult task. Without quality shut-eye, our productivity decreases, immune system weakens and even our dietary health is negatively affected.</p> <p><strong>You eat more when you sleep less</strong></p> <p>A Mayo Clinic study comparing the eating habits of people who slept as much as they needed and those who only slept two-thirds of their required rest time for eight days, found the subject who were sleep-deprived ended up eating an average of 549 extra calories each day.</p> <p><strong>You snack more, especially at night</strong></p> <p>A lack of sleep can lead to decrease in physical activity and an increase in snacking behaviour. Such behaviours typically leads to weight gain.</p> <p><strong>You crave extra carbs and fatty foods</strong></p> <p>The foods we’re snacking on aren’t usually the healthy variety. A 2013 study found that when we’re tired we not only crave unhealthy, -carbohydrate, and high-fat foods but we’re less likely to consider the consequences of such food choices over time.</p> <p><strong>Disrupted sleep cycle equal changing eating patterns</strong></p> <p>Your internal clock guides both your sleep patterns and your eating patterns – aka when you feel hungry during the day. A 2011 study found that people who are “late sleepers” tend to delay their meals throughout the day and end up consuming more calories than the average meal. Those late-eating habits affect sleep and perpetuates the cycle.</p> <p><strong>You don’t eat the right foods</strong></p> <p>A 2013 study found that sleep-deprived subjects ate half the fruit and vegetable servings of a normal sleeper. This meant losing key nutrients from their diet, which can lead to dietary imbalances and effect the regular functioning of the body. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Body

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Want to reduce your dementia risk? Eat these 4 foods, says new study

<p>If you are what you eat, this might make you hungrier for foods that are bright in every sense. Research has shown that living, vibrant foods can slow down aging at a cellular level; while fruit and vegetables in particular have been associated with lower incidence of cognitive decline as individuals age.</p> <p>However, research has been relatively lacking on just how much of these brain-healthy foods you really need and which fruit and vegetables are best for the job.</p> <p>In collaboration with public health experts at Harvard University, medical researchers at China’s Zhejiang University School of Medicine conducted a meta-analysis that’s slated to be published in the June 2024 issue of <em>The Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging</em>. They combined data from two large-scale population-representative studies that analysed the diets and cognitive function of more than 10,000 participants ages 55 and older from China and the US.</p> <h2>What daily diets revealed</h2> <p>The data included diet questionnaires that honed in on the average of participants’ total daily intake of several different types of foods, including fruit and vegetables, and also broke them down into sub-types like green leafy vegetables and berries. Over a period of five years, the participants also took part in activities designed to assess their cognitive function and the average rate of cognitive decline.</p> <p>Overall, participants who included the most fruit and vegetables in their daily diets performed best on the brain tests and maintained those results over time. This suggested that both fruit and vegetables had protective elements that slowed cognitive decline.</p> <h2>Vegetables that help protect cognition</h2> <p>Interestingly, certain types of vegetables appeared to be more beneficial than others—say the researchers: “Our findings support the potential beneficial roles of VF, especially cruciferous vegetables, green leafy vegetables, and red and yellow vegetables, in maintaining cognitive function and slowing cognitive decline in middle-aged and older adults.”</p> <p>The researchers pointed to several reasons these particular vegetables might have shown a substantial impact, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidation nutrients like flavonoids and various vitamins or even gut improvements that have been shown to help improve or protect cognition.</p> <p>While beans didn’t figure prominently in both studies, they showed a protective element in the US study, so they are also worth keeping on your plate. (Beans are also thought to be one of the top foods for longevity.)</p> <h2>Fruit that pack a punch</h2> <p>As for fruit, while some didn’t show as much of a protective effect across the board, berries and apples are two examples of fruit that experts have previously said provide major polyphenol and antioxidant effect.</p> <p>Participants whose brains maintained performance were shown to have eaten three or more servings of vegetables and two or more servings of fruit per day. This is on par with the five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit recommended we eat every day.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/want-to-reduce-your-dementia-risk-eat-these-4-foods-says-new-study" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Mind

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Eating some chocolate really might be good for you – here’s what the research says

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dan-baumgardt-1451396">Dan Baumgardt</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-bristol-1211">University of Bristol</a></em></p> <p>Although it always makes me scoff slightly to see Easter eggs making their first appearance in supermarkets at the end of December, there are few people who aren’t delighted to receive a bit of chocolate every year.</p> <p>It makes sense that too much chocolate would be bad for you because of the high fat and sugar content in most products. But what should we make of common claims that eating some chocolate is actually good for you?</p> <p>Happily, there is a fair amount of evidence that shows, in the right circumstances, chocolate may be both beneficial for your heart and good for your mental state.</p> <p>In fact, chocolate – or more specifically cacao, the raw, unrefined bean – is a medicinal wonder. It contains many different active compounds which can evoke pharmacological effects within the body, like medicines or drugs.</p> <p>Compounds that lead to neurological effects in the brain have to be able to cross the <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-13443-2_7">blood-brain barrier</a>, the protective shield which prevents harmful substances – like toxins and bacteria – entering the delicate nervous tissue.</p> <p>One of these is the compound <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3672386/">theobromine</a>, which is also found in tea and contributes towards its bitter taste. Tea and chocolate also contain caffeine, which theobromine is related to as part of the purine family of chemicals.</p> <p>These chemicals, among others, contribute to chocolate’s addictive nature. They have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, where they can influence the nervous system. They are therefore known as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15549276/">psychoactive</a> chemicals.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HloqayQdR6M?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>What effects can chocolate have on mood? Well, <a href="https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/71/10/665/1931144?login=false">a systematic review</a> looked at a group of studies which examined the feelings and emotions associated with consuming chocolate. Most demonstrated improvements in mood, anxiety, energy and states of arousal.</p> <p>Some noted the feeling of guilt, which is perhaps something we’ve all felt after one too many Dairy Milks.</p> <h2>Health benefits of cocoa</h2> <p>There are other organs, aside from the brain, that might benefit from the medicinal effects of cocoa. For centuries, chocolate has been used as a medicine to treat a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10917925/">long list of diseases</a> including anaemia, tuberculosis, gout and even low libido.</p> <p>These might be spurious claims but there is evidence to suggest that eating cacao has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. First, it can prevent <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8068178/">endothelial dysfunction</a>. This is the process through which arteries harden and get laden down with fatty plaques, which can in turn lead to heart attacks and strokes.</p> <p>Eating dark chocolate may also reduce <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1537189115001135?via%3Dihub">blood pressure</a>, which is another risk factor for developing arterial disease, and prevent formation of clots which block up blood vessels.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8VUcPCbSSCY?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Some studies have suggested that dark chocolate might be useful in adjusting ratios of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20968113/">high-density lipoprotein cholesterol</a>, which can help protect the heart.</p> <p>Others have examined insulin resistance, the phenomenon associated with Type 2 diabetes and weight gain. They suggest that the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963996900000697#:%7E:text=Cocoa%20is%20rich%20in%20polyphenols%20particularly%20in%20catechins,and%20cocoa%20powder%20have%20been%20published%20only%20recently.">polyphenols</a> – chemical compounds present in plants – found in foodstuffs like chocolate may also lead to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29993262/">improved control of blood sugars</a>.</p> <h2>Chocolate toxicity</h2> <p>As much as chocolate might be considered a medicine for some, it can be a poison for others.</p> <p>It’s well documented that the ingestion of caffeine and theobromine is highly toxic for domestic animals. Dogs are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4801869/">particularly affected</a> because of their often voracious appetites and generally unfussy natures.</p> <p>The culprit is often dark chocolate, which can provoke symptoms of agitation, rigid muscles and even seizures. In certain cases, if ingested in high enough quantities, it can lead to comas and abnormal, even fatal heart rhythms.</p> <p>Some of the compounds found in chocolate have also been found to have potentially negative effects in humans. Chocolate is a source of oxalate which, along with calcium, is one of the main components of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20301742/">kidney stones</a>.</p> <p>Some clinical groups have advised against consuming oxalate rich foods, such as spinach and rhubarb – and chocolate, for those who suffer from recurrent kidney stones.</p> <p>So, what should all this mean for our chocolate consumption habits? Science points in the direction of chocolate that has as high a cocoa solid content as possible, and the minimum of extras. The potentially harmful effects of chocolate are more related to fat and sugar, and may counteract any possible benefits.</p> <p>A daily dose of 20g-30g of plain or dark chocolate with cocoa solids above 70% – rather than milk chocolate, which contains fewer solids and white chocolate, which contains none – could lead to a greater health benefit, as well as a greater high.</p> <p>But whatever chocolate you go for, please don’t share it with the dog.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/226759/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dan-baumgardt-1451396"><em>Dan Baumgardt</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer, School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-bristol-1211">University of Bristol</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/eating-some-chocolate-really-might-be-good-for-you-heres-what-the-research-says-226759">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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Here’s why having chocolate can make you feel great or a bit sick – plus 4 tips for better eating

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saman-khalesi-366871">Saman Khalesi</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p>Australians are <a href="https://www.retail.org.au/media/sweet-spending-boon-predicted-for-easter-retail">predicted</a> to spend around A$1.7 billion on chocolates, hot cross buns and other special foods this Easter season.</p> <p>Chocolate has a long history of production and consumption. It is made from cacao beans that go through processes including fermentation, drying, roasting and grounding. What is left is a rich and fatty liquor that is pressed to remove the fat (cocoa butter) and the cacao (or “cocoa”) powder which will then be mixed with different ingredients to produce dark, milk, white and other types of chocolates.</p> <p>There are several health benefits and potential problems that come in these sweet chocolatey packages.</p> <h2>The good news</h2> <p>Cacao beans contain <a href="https://foodstruct.com/food/cocoa-bean">minerals</a> like iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus and some vitamins. They are also rich in beneficial chemicals called <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23150750/">polyphenols</a>.</p> <p>These are great antioxidants, with the potential to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465250/">improve heart health</a>, increase <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25164923/">nitric oxide</a> (which dilates blood vessels) and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3488419/">reduce blood pressure</a>, provide food for gut microbiota and <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/7/1908">promote gut health</a>, boost the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465250/">immune system</a> and reduce inflammation.</p> <p>However, the concentration of polyphenols in the chocolate we eat depends largely on the cocoa solid amounts used in the final product.</p> <p>In general terms, the darker the chocolate, the more cocoa solids, minerals and polyphenols it has. For example, dark chocolates may have around <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2011.614984">seven times more polyphenols</a> compared to white chocolates and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2011.614984">three times more polyphenols</a> compared to milk chocolates.</p> <h2>But also some bad news</h2> <p>Unfortunately, the <a href="https://theconversation.com/treat-or-treatment-chocolate-is-good-but-cocoa-is-better-for-your-heart-3084">health benefits of cocoa solids</a> are easily offset by the high sugar and fat content of modern-day chocolates. For example, milk and white chocolate eggs are on average 50% sugar, 40% fat (mostly saturated fats) – which means a lot of added kilojoules (calories).</p> <p>Also, there may be some side effects that come with ingesting chocolate.</p> <p>Cocoa beans include a compound called theobromine. While it has the anti-inflammatory properties responsible for some of the health benefits of chocolate, it is also a mild brain stimulant that acts in a similar way to caffeine. The mood boost it offers may also be partly responsible for how much we <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2015.00030/full?crsi=662496658&amp;cicada_org_src=healthwebmagazine.com&amp;cicada_org_mdm=direct">like chocolate</a>. Dark chocolate has higher theobromine compared to milk and white chocolate.</p> <p>But accordingly, overindulging in chocolate (and therefore theobromine) may lead to feeling restless, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3672386/">headaches</a> and nausea.</p> <h2>What else is in your chocolate?</h2> <p>Milk and dairy-based chocolates may also cause stomach upset, abdominal pain and bloating in people with <a href="https://dietitiansaustralia.org.au/health-advice/lactose-intolerance">lactose intolerance</a>. This happens when we don’t produce enough lactase enzymes to digest milk sugar (lactose).</p> <p>People with lactose intolerance can usually tolerate up to 6 grams of lactose without showing symptoms. Milk chocolate can have around <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310258/">3 grams of lactose</a> per 40 grams (the size of a standard chocolate bar). So two chocolate bars (or the equivalent in milk chocolate eggs or bunnies) may be enough to cause symptoms.</p> <p>It’s worth noting that lactase enzyme activity dramatically declines as we age, with the highest activity in newborns and children. So lactose sensitivity or intolerance may not be such an issue for your kids and your symptoms may increase over time. Genetics also plays a major role in how sensitive people are to lactose.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6815241/">Allergic reactions</a> to chocolate are usually due to the added ingredients or cross-contamination with potential allergens such as nuts, milk, soy, and some sweeteners used in the production of chocolate.</p> <p>Symptoms can be mild (acne, rashes and stomach pain) or more severe (swelling of the throat and tongue and shortness of breath).</p> <p>If you or your family members have known allergic reactions, make sure you read the label before indulging – especially in a whole block or basket of the stuff. And if you or your family members do experience symptoms of an allergic reaction after eating chocolate, <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/allergic-reactions-emergency-first-aid">seek medical attention</a> immediately.</p> <h2>4 take home tips</h2> <p>So, if you are like me and have a weakness for chocolate there are a few things you can do to make the experience a good one.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/202848/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <ol> <li>keep an eye out for the darker chocolate varieties with higher cocoa solids. You may notice a percentage on labelling, which refers to how much of its weight is from cocoa beans. In general, the higher this percentage, the lower the sugar. White chocolate has almost no cocoa solid, and mostly cocoa butter, sugar and other ingredients. Dark chocolate has 50–100% cocoa beans, and less sugar. Aim for at least 70% cocoa</li> <li>read the fine print for additives and possible cross-contamination, especially if allergies might be an issue</li> <li>the ingredients list and nutrition information panel should tell you all about the chocolate you choosing. Go for varieties with lower sugar and less saturated fat. Nuts, seeds and dried fruits are better ingredients to have in your chocolate than sugar, creme, syrup, and caramel</li> <li>finally, treat yourself – but keep the amount you have within sensible limits!</li> </ol> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saman-khalesi-366871">Saman Khalesi</a>, Postdoctoral Fellow of the National Heart Foundation &amp; Senior Lecturer and Discipline Lead in Nutrition, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/heres-why-having-chocolate-can-make-you-feel-great-or-a-bit-sick-plus-4-tips-for-better-eating-202848">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

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Kate Winslet reveals secret health battle

<p>Kate Winslet has opened up about a secret health battle that she faced following the success of <em>Titanic</em> in the late 1990s. </p> <p>The British actress shared how the global success of the film propelled her into stardom, which welcomed a whole new level of scrutiny about her image. </p> <p>Now, the 48-year-old has spoken candidly about her battles with an eating disorder during the height of her fame. </p> <p>"I never told anyone about it," Winslet told the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/03/magazine/kate-winslet-the-regime.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>New York Times</em></a>.</p> <p>"Because guess what – people in the world around you go: 'Hey, you look great! You lost weight!'"</p> <p>Now, even 26 years after the peak of the attention, Winslet says that "even the compliment about looking good is connected to weight. And that is one thing I will not let people talk about."</p> <p>"If they do, I pull them up straight away."</p> <p>While this is the first time Winslet admitted to having an eating disorder, it is not the first time she has addressed unwelcome comments over her appearance. </p> <p>On a podcast in 2022, the actress said she wished she had hit back at critics of her body at the time instead of remaining silent.</p> <p>"I would have said, 'Don't you dare treat me like this. I'm a young woman, my body is changing, I'm figuring it out, I'm deeply insecure, I'm terrified, don't make this any harder than it already is'," Winslet said on the <em>Happy Sad Confused</em> podcast.</p> <p>She continued, "It can be extremely negative. People are subject to scrutiny that is more than a young, vulnerable person can cope with. But in the film industry, it is really changing."</p> <p>"When I was younger my agent would get calls saying, 'How's her weight?' I kid you not. So it's heartwarming that this has started to change."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Caring

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I want to eat healthily. So why do I crave sugar, salt and carbs?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hayley-oneill-1458016">Hayley O'Neill</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p>We all want to eat healthily, especially as we reset our health goals at the start of a new year. But sometimes these plans are sabotaged by powerful cravings for sweet, salty or carb-heavy foods.</p> <p>So why do you crave these foods when you’re trying to improve your diet or lose weight? And what can you do about it?</p> <p>There are many reasons for craving specific foods, but let’s focus on four common ones:</p> <h2>1. Blood sugar crashes</h2> <p>Sugar is a key energy source for all animals, and its taste is one of the most basic sensory experiences. Even without specific sweet taste receptors on the tongue, a strong preference for sugar can develop, indicating a mechanism beyond taste alone.</p> <p>Neurons <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-021-00982-7">responding to sugar</a> are activated when sugar is delivered to the gut. This can increase appetite and make you want to consume more. Giving into cravings also drives an appetite for more sugar.</p> <p>In the long term, research suggests a high-sugar diet can affect <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m2382">mood</a>, digestion and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33339337/">inflammation</a> in the <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.aay6218?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&amp;rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&amp;rfr_dat=cr_pub%20%200pubmed">gut</a>.</p> <p>While there’s a lot of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763402000040?via%3Dihub#aep-section-id23">variation between individuals</a>, regularly eating sugary and high-carb foods can lead to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30951762/">rapid spikes and crashes</a> in blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar drops, your body can respond by craving quick sources of energy, often in the form of sugar and carbs because these deliver the fastest, most easily accessible form of energy.</p> <h2>2. Drops in dopamine and serotonin</h2> <p>Certain neurotransmitters, such as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30595479/">dopamine</a>, are involved in the reward and pleasure centres of the brain. Eating sugary and carb-rich foods can trigger the release of dopamine, creating a pleasurable experience and reinforcing the craving.</p> <p>Serotonin, the feel-good hormone, suppresses <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1569733910700886">appetite</a>. Natural changes in serotonin can influence daily fluctuations in mood, energy levels and attention. It’s also associated with eating more <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5829131/">carb-rich snacks in the afternoon</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21985780/">Low carb diets</a> may reduce serotonin and lower mood. However, a recent systematic review suggests little association between these diets and risk for <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032722013933?via%3Dihub">anxiety and depression</a>.</p> <p>Compared to men, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4189179/">women tend to crave more carb rich foods</a>. Feeling irritable, tired, depressed or experiencing carb cravings are part of premenstrual <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29218451/">symptoms</a> and could be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560698/">linked to</a> reduced <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9928757/">serotonin levels</a>.</p> <h2>3. Loss of fluids and drops in blood sugar and salt</h2> <p>Sometimes our bodies crave the things they’re missing, such as hydration or even salt. A low-carb diet, for example, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537084/">depletes</a> insulin levels, decreasing sodium and water retention.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1933287419302673">Very low-carb diets</a>, like ketogenic diets, induce “ketosis”, a metabolic state where the body switches to using fat as its primary energy source, moving away from the usual dependence on carbohydrates.</p> <p>Ketosis is often associated with increased urine production, further contributing to potential fluid loss, electrolyte imbalances and salt cravings.</p> <h2>4. High levels of stress or emotional turmoil</h2> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4214609/">Stress</a>, boredom and emotional turmoil can lead to cravings for comfort foods. This is because stress-related hormones can impact our appetite, satiety (feeling full) and food preferences.</p> <p>The stress hormone <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3425607/">cortisol</a>, in particular, can drive cravings for <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306453000000354">sweet comfort foods</a>.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306453000000354">2001 study</a> of 59 premenopausal women subjected to stress revealed that the stress led to higher calorie consumption.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37295418/">A more recent study</a> found chronic stress, when paired with high-calorie diet, increases food intake and a preference for sweet foods. This shows the importance of a healthy diet during stress to prevent weight gain.</p> <h2>What can you do about cravings?</h2> <p>Here are four tips to curb cravings:</p> <p><strong>1) don’t cut out whole food groups.</strong> Aim for a well-balanced diet and make sure you include:</p> <ul> <li> <p><em>sufficient protein</em> in your meals to help you feel full and reduce the urge to snack on sugary and carb-rich foods. Older adults should aim for 20–40g protein per meal with a particular focus on <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/jhn.12838">breakfast and lunch</a> and an overall daily protein intake of at least <a href="https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/43411">0.8g</a> per kg of body weight for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35187864/">muscle health</a></p> </li> <li> <p><em>fibre-rich foods</em>, such as vegetables and whole grains. These make you feel full and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32142510/">stabilise your blood sugar</a> levels. Examples include broccoli, quinoa, brown rice, oats, beans, lentils and bran cereals. Substitute refined carbs high in sugar like processed snack bars, soft drink or baked goods for more complex ones like whole grain bread or wholewheat muffins, or nut and seed bars or energy bites made with chia seeds and oats</p> </li> </ul> <p><strong>2) manage your stress levels.</strong> Practise stress-reduction techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga to manage emotional triggers for cravings. Practising <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30570305/">mindful eating</a>, by eating slowly and tuning into bodily sensations, can also reduce daily calorie intake and curb cravings and stress-driven eating</p> <p><strong>3) get enough sleep.</strong> Aim for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33054337/">seven to eight</a> hours of quality sleep per night, with a minimum of seven hours. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9031614/">Lack of sleep</a> can disrupt hormones that regulate hunger and cravings</p> <p><strong>4) control your portions.</strong> If you decide to indulge in a treat, control your portion size to avoid overindulging.</p> <p>Overcoming cravings for sugar, salt and carbs when trying to eat healthily or lose weight is undoubtedly a formidable challenge. Remember, it’s a journey, and setbacks may occur. Be patient with yourself – your success is not defined by occasional cravings but by your ability to manage and overcome them.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/212114/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hayley-oneill-1458016">Hayley O'Neill</a>, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-want-to-eat-healthily-so-why-do-i-crave-sugar-salt-and-carbs-212114">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

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Eating leafy greens could be better for oral health than using mouthwash

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mia-cousins-burleigh-1201153">Mia Cousins Burleigh</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-the-west-of-scotland-1385">University of the West of Scotland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/siobhan-paula-moran-1506183">Siobhan Paula Moran</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-the-west-of-scotland-1385">University of the West of Scotland</a></em></p> <p>Over half the adult population in the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26052472">UK and US</a> have gum disease. Typical treatments include <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-61912-4">mouthwash</a> and in severe cases, <a href="https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/abs/10.12968/vetn.2017.8.10.542">antibiotics</a>. These treatments have side effects, such as dry mouth, the development of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30967854/">antimicrobial resistance</a> and increased <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-61912-4">blood pressure</a>.</p> <p>But research has indicated that a molecule called <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-69931-x">nitrate</a>, which is found in leafy green vegetables, has fewer side effects and offers greater benefits for oral health. And it could be used as a natural alternative for treating oral disease.</p> <p>Inadequate brushing and flossing leads to the build up of <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-69931-x">dental plaque</a>, a sticky layer of bacteria, on the surface of teeth and gums. Plaque causes tooth decay and gum disease. Sugary and acidic foods, dry mouth, and smoking can also contribute to bad breath, tooth decay, and gum infections.</p> <p>The two main types of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. <a href="https://www.spandidos-publications.com/10.3892/etm.2019.8381">Gingivitis</a> causes redness, swelling and bleeding of the gums. <a href="https://www.spandidos-publications.com/10.3892/etm.2019.8381">Periodontitis</a> is a more advanced form of gum disease, causing damage to the soft tissues and bones supporting the teeth.</p> <p>Periodontal disease can therefore, lead to tooth loss and, when bacteria from the mouth enter the bloodstream, can also contribute to the development of <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/bdjteam2015163">systemic disorders</a> such as cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.</p> <h2>Leafy greens may be the secret</h2> <p>Leafy greens and root vegetables are bursting with <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666149723000312">vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants</a> – and it’s no secret that a diet consisting of these vegetables is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight, boosting the immune system, and preventing <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2048004016661435">heart disease, cancer and diabetes.</a> The multiple health benefits of leafy greens are partly because spinach, lettuce and beetroots are brimming with <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-69931-x">nitrate</a>, which can be reduced to nitric oxide by nitrate-reducing bacteria inside the mouth.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7zrRlMGeBes?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Popeye knew a thing or two about the health benefits of eating leafy greens. Boomerang Official, 2017.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>Nitric oxide is known to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006295222004191">lower blood pressure</a> and improve <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0243755#:%7E:text=Nitrate%2Drich%20beetroot%20juice%20offsets,healthy%20male%20runners%20%7C%20PLOS%20ONE">exercise performance</a>. However, in the mouth, it helps to prevent the overgrowth of bad bacteria and reduces <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0243755#:%7E:text=Nitrate%2Drich%20beetroot%20juice%20offsets,healthy%20male%20runners%20%7C%20PLOS%20ONE">oral acidity</a>, both of which can cause gum disease and tooth decay.</p> <p>As part of our research on nitrate and oral health, <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0243755#:%7E:text=Nitrate%2Drich%20beetroot%20juice%20offsets,healthy%20male%20runners%20%7C%20PLOS%20ONE">we studied competitive athletes</a>. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9839431/">Athletes are prone to gum disease</a> due to high intake of carbohydrates – which can cause inflammation of the gum tissues – stress, and dry mouth from breathing hard during training.</p> <p>Our study showed that beetroot juice (containing approximately 12 <a href="https://www.nursingtimes.net/students/an-easy-guide-to-mmols-09-02-2012/">millimole</a> of nitrate) protected their teeth from acidic sports drinks and carbohydrate gels during exercise – suggesting that nitrate could be used as a prebiotic by athletes to reduce the risk of tooth decay.</p> <p>Nitrate offers a lot of promise as an oral health <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-69931-x">prebiotic</a>. Good oral hygiene and a nitrate rich diet could be the key to a healthier body, a vibrant smile and disease-free gums. This is good news for those most at risk of oral health deterioration such as <a href="https://www.news-medical.net/health/Periodontitis-and-Pregnancy.aspx">pregnant women</a>, and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8771712/">the elderly</a>.</p> <p>In the UK, antiseptic mouthwashes containing <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-61912-4">chlorhexidine</a> are commonly used to treat dental plaque and gum disease. Unfortunately, these mouthwashes are a blunderbuss approach to oral health, as they indiscriminately remove both good and bad bacteria and increase oral acidity, which can cause disease.</p> <p>Worryingly, early research also indicates that chlorhexidine may contribute to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30967854/">antimicrobial resistance</a>. Resistance occurs when bacteria and fungi survive the effects of one or more <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4768623/">antimicrobial drugs</a> due to repeated exposure to these treatments. Antimicrobial resistance is a <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)02724-0/fulltext">global health concern</a>, predicted to cause 10 million deaths yearly by the year 2050.</p> <p>In contrast, dietary nitrate is more targeted. Nitrate eliminates disease-associated bacteria, reduces oral acidity and creates a balanced <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2944498/">oral microbiome</a>. The oral microbiome refers to all the microorganisms in the mouth. Nitrate offers exciting potential as an <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-69931-x">oral health prebiotic</a>, which can be used to prevent disease onset or limit disease progression.</p> <h2>How many leafy greens for pearly whites?</h2> <p>So how much should we consume daily? As a rule of thumb, a generous helping of spinach, kale or beetroot at mealtimes contains about 6-10 mmol of nitrate and offers immediate health benefits.</p> <p>Work we have done with our collaborators has shown that treating <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-69931-x">plaque samples</a> from periodontal disease patients with 6.5 mmol of nitrate increased healthy bacteria levels and reduced acidity.</p> <p>For example, consuming <a href="https://aap.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/JPER.20-0778">lettuce juice</a> for two weeks reduced gum inflammation and increased healthy bacteria levels in patients with gum disease.</p> <p>Growing evidence suggests that nitrate is a cornerstone of oral health. Crunching on a portion of vegetables at mealtimes can help to prevent or treat oral disease and keeps the mouth fresh and healthy.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/221181/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mia-cousins-burleigh-1201153"><em>Mia Cousins Burleigh</em></a><em>, Lecturer, School of Health and Life Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-the-west-of-scotland-1385">University of the West of Scotland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/siobhan-paula-moran-1506183">Siobhan Paula Moran</a>, PhD candidate, School of Health and Life Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-the-west-of-scotland-1385">University of the West of Scotland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/eating-leafy-greens-could-be-better-for-oral-health-than-using-mouthwash-221181">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How dieting, weight suppression and even misuse of drugs like Ozempic can contribute to eating disorders

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/samantha-withnell-1504436">Samantha Withnell</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-university-882">Western University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lindsay-bodell-1504260">Lindsay Bodell</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-university-882">Western University</a></em></p> <p>Up to 72 per cent of women and 61 per cent of men are dissatisfied with their weight or <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2014.04.010">body image</a>, according to a U.S. study. Globally, millions of people <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111%2Fobr.12466">attempt to lose weight</a> every year with the hope that weight loss will have positive effects on their body image, health and quality of life.</p> <p>However, these motivated individuals often struggle to maintain new diets or exercise regimens. The rise of medications such as semaglutides, like <a href="https://dhpp.hpfb-dgpsa.ca/dhpp/resource/101298">Ozempic</a> or <a href="https://dhpp.hpfb-dgpsa.ca/dhpp/resource/101765">Wegovy</a>, <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/ozempic-weight-loss-1.6772021">might be viewed as an appealing “quick fix”</a> alternative to meet weight loss goals.</p> <p>Research led by our team and others suggests that such attempts to lose weight often do more harm than good, and even increase the risk of <a href="https://osf.io/9stq2">developing an eating disorder</a>.</p> <h2>Weight loss and eating disorders</h2> <p>Eating disorders are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.20589">serious mental health conditions</a> primarily characterized by extreme patterns of under- or over-eating, concerns about one’s shape or body weight or other behaviours intended to influence body shape or weight such as exercising excessively or self-inducing vomiting.</p> <p>Although once thought to only affect young, white adolescent girls, eating disorders do not discriminate; eating disorders can develop in people of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/erv.2553">any age, sex, gender or racial/ethnic background</a>, with an estimated <a href="https://nedic.ca/general-information/">one million Canadians</a> suffering from an eating disorder at any given time. Feb. 1 to 7 is <a href="https://nedic.ca/edaw/">National Eating Disorders Awareness Week</a>.</p> <p>As a clinical psychologist and clinical psychology graduate student, our research has focused on how eating disorders develop and what keeps them going. Pertinent to society’s focus on weight-related goals, our research has examined associations between weight loss and eating disorder symptoms.</p> <h2>Eating disorders and ‘weight suppression’</h2> <p>In eating disorders research, the state of maintaining weight loss is referred to as “weight suppression.” Weight suppression is typically defined as the difference between a person’s current weight and their highest lifetime weight (excluding pregnancy).</p> <p>Despite the belief that weight loss will improve body satisfaction, we found that in a sample of over 600 men and women, weight loss had no impact on women’s negative body image and was associated with increased body dissatisfaction in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2023.01.011">men</a>. Importantly, being more weight suppressed has been associated with the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqaa146">onset of eating disorders</a>, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-018-0955-2">One proposed explanation</a> for the relationship between weight suppression and eating disorders is that maintaining weight loss becomes increasingly difficult as body systems that <a href="https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.110.010025">reduce metabolic rate and energy expenditure, and increase appetite</a>, are activated to promote weight gain.</p> <p>There is growing awareness that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2646">weight regain is highly likely following conventional diet programs</a>. This might lead people to engage in more and more extreme behaviours to control their weight, or they might shift between extreme restriction of food intake and episodes of overeating or binge eating, the characteristic symptoms of bulimia nervosa.</p> <h2>Ozempic and other semaglutide drugs</h2> <p>Semaglutide drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy are part of a class of drug called <a href="https://pdf.hres.ca/dpd_pm/00067924.PDF">glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists (GLP-1As)</a>. These drugs work by mimicking the hormone GLP-1 to interact with neural pathways that signal satiety (fullness) and slow stomach emptying, leading to reduced food intake.</p> <p>Although GLP-1As are indicated to treat Type 2 diabetes, <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/ozempic-off-label-1.6884141">they are increasingly prescribed off-label</a> or being <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/health-67414203">illegally purchased</a> without a prescription because of their observed effectiveness at inducing weight loss. Although medications like Ozempic do often lead to weight loss, the rate of weight loss may <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2021.3224">slow down or stop over time</a>.</p> <p>Research by Lindsay Bodell, one of the authors of this story, and her colleagues on weight suppression may help explain why effects of semaglutides diminish over time, as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2019.112565">weight suppression is associated with reduced GLP-1 response</a>. This means those suppressing their weight could become less responsive to the satiety signals activated by GLP-1As.</p> <p>Additionally, weight loss effects are only seen for as long as the medication is taken, meaning those who take these drugs to achieve some weight loss goal are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/dom.14725">likely to regain most, if not all, weight lost</a> when they stop taking the medication.</p> <h2>Risks of dieting and weight-loss drugs</h2> <p>The growing market for off-label weight loss drugs is concerning, because of the exacerbation of <a href="https://theconversation.com/ozempic-the-miracle-drug-and-the-harmful-idea-of-a-future-without-fat-211661">weight stigma</a> and the serious <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2022.01.004">health risks</a> associated with unsupervised weight loss, including developing eating disorders.</p> <p>Researchers and health professionals are already raising the alarm about the use of GLP-1As in children and adolescents, due to concerns about their possible <a href="https://doi.org/10.1017/cts.2023.612">impact on growth and development</a>.</p> <p>Moreover, popular weight-loss methods, whether they involve pills or “crash diets,” often mimic symptoms of eating disorders. For example, intermittent fasting diets that involve long periods of fasting followed by short periods of food consumption may mimic and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2022.101681">increase the risk of developing binge eating problems</a>.</p> <p>The use of diet pills or laxatives to lose weight has been found to increase the risk of <a href="https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2019.305390">being diagnosed with an eating disorder in the next one to three years</a>. Drugs like Ozempic may also be <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.24109">misused by individuals already struggling with an eating disorder</a> to suppress their appetite, compensate for binge eating episodes or manage fear of weight gain.</p> <p>Individuals who are already showing signs of an eating disorder, such as limiting their food intake and intense concerns about their weight, may be most at risk of spiralling from a weight loss diet or medication into an eating disorder, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.24116">even if they only lose a moderate amount of weight</a>.</p> <p>People who are dissatisfied with their weight or have made multiple attempts to lose weight often feel pressured to try increasingly drastic methods. However, any diet, exercise program or weight-loss medication promising a quick fix for weight loss should be treated with extreme caution. At best, you may gain the weight back; at worst, you put yourself at risk for much more serious eating disorders and other health problems.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/221514/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/samantha-withnell-1504436"><em>Samantha Withnell</em></a><em>, PhD Candidate, Clinical Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-university-882">Western University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lindsay-bodell-1504260">Lindsay Bodell</a>, Assistant Professor of Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-university-882">Western University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-dieting-weight-suppression-and-even-misuse-of-drugs-like-ozempic-can-contribute-to-eating-disorders-221514">original article</a>.</em></p>

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I’m trying to lose weight and eat healthily. Why do I feel so hungry all the time? What can I do about it?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993">Nick Fuller</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, famously said nothing is certain except death and taxes. But I think we can include “you’ll feel hungry when you’re trying to lose weight” as another certainty.</p> <p>The reason is basic biology. So how does this work – and what can you do about it?</p> <h2>Hormones control our feelings of hunger</h2> <p>Several hormones play an essential role in regulating our feelings of hunger and fullness. The most important are ghrelin – often called the hunger hormone – and leptin.</p> <p>When we’re hungry, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11739476/">ghrelin</a> is released by our stomach, lighting up a part of our brain called the hypothalamus to tell us to eat.</p> <p>When it’s time to stop eating, hormones, including <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8717038/">leptin</a>, are released from different organs, such as our gut and fat tissue, to signal to the brain that we’re full.</p> <h2>Dieting disrupts the process</h2> <p>But when we change our diet and start losing weight, we disrupt how these <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4766925/">appetite hormones function</a>.</p> <p>This triggers a process that stems from our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Their bodies developed this mechanism as a survival response to adapt to periods of deprivation and protect against starvation.</p> <p>The levels of hormones <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23126426/">managing our hunger increase</a>, making us feel hungrier to tell us to eat more, while the ones responsible for signalling we’re full decrease their levels, intensifying our feelings of hunger.</p> <p>We end up increasing our calorie consumption so we eat more to regain the weight we lost.</p> <p>But worse, even after the kilos creep back on, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22029981/">our appetite hormones don’t restore</a> to their normal levels – they keep telling us to eat more so we put on a little extra fat. This is our body’s way of preparing for the next bout of starvation we will impose through dieting.</p> <p>Fortunately, there are things we can do to manage our appetite, including:</p> <h2>1. Eating a large, healthy breakfast every day</h2> <p>One of the easiest ways to manage our feelings of hunger throughout the day is to eat most of our food earlier in the day and taper our meal sizes so dinner is the smallest meal.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32073608/">Research</a> shows a low-calorie or small breakfast leads to increased feelings of hunger, specifically appetite for sweets, across the course of the day.</p> <p><a href="https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(22)00344-8">Another study</a> found the same effect. Participants went on a calorie-controlled diet for two months, where they ate 45% of their calories for breakfast, 35% at lunch and 20% at dinner for the first month, before switching to eat their largest meal in the evening and their smallest in the morning. Eating the largest meal at breakfast resulted in decreased hunger throughout the day.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32073608/">Research</a> also shows we burn the calories from a meal 2.5-times more efficiently in the morning than the evening. So emphasising breakfast over dinner is good not just for hunger control, but also weight management.</p> <h2>2. Prioritising protein</h2> <p>Protein helps contain feelings of hunger. This is because protein-rich foods such as lean meats, tofu and beans suppress the appetite-stimulating ghrelin and stimulate another hormone called <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413106002713">peptide YY</a> that makes you feel full.</p> <p>And just as eating a breakfast is vital to managing our hunger, what we eat is important too, with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24703415/">research</a> confirming a breakfast containing protein-rich foods, such as eggs, will leave us feeling fuller for longer.</p> <p>But this doesn’t mean just eating foods with protein. Meals need to be balanced and include a source of protein, wholegrain carb and healthy fat to meet our dietary needs. For example, eggs on wholegrain toast with avocado.</p> <h2>3. Filling up with nuts and foods high in good fats and fibre</h2> <p>Nuts often get a bad rap – thanks to the misconception they cause weight gain – but nuts can help us manage our hunger and weight. The filling fibre and good fats found in nuts take longer to digest, meaning our hunger is satisfied for longer.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12791613/">Studies</a> suggest you can include up to 68 grams per day of nuts without affecting your weight.</p> <p>Avocados are also high in fibre and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, making them another excellent food for managing feelings of fullness. This is backed by a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6567160/">study</a> confirming participants who ate a breakfast incorporating avocado felt more satisfied and less hungry than participants who ate a meal containing the same calories but with lower fat and fibre content.</p> <p>Similarly, eating foods that are high in soluble fibre – such as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24820437/">beans</a> and vegetables – make us feel fuller. This type of fibre attracts water from our gut, forming a gel that slows digestion.</p> <h2>4. Eating mindfully</h2> <p>When we take time to really be aware of and enjoy the food we’re eating, we slow down and eat far less.</p> <p>A <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28718396/">review</a> of 68 studies found eating mindfully helps us better recognise feelings of fullness. Mindful eating provides our brain enough time to recognise and adapt to the signals from our stomach telling us we’re full.</p> <p>Slow down your food consumption by sitting at the dinner table and use smaller utensils to reduce the volume of food you eat with each mouthful.</p> <h2>5. Getting enough sleep</h2> <p>Sleep deprivation disturbs our <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1389945708700133">appetite hormones</a>, increasing our feelings of hunger and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms3259">triggering cravings</a>. So aim to get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.</p> <p>Try switching off your devices <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1477153515584979">two hours before bed</a> to boost your body’s secretion of sleep-inducing hormones like melatonin.</p> <h2>6. Managing stress</h2> <p>Stress increases our <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18568078/">body’s production of cortisol</a> and triggers food cravings.</p> <p>So take time out when you need it and set aside time for stress-relieving activities. This can be as simple as getting outdoors. A <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00722/full">2019 study</a> found sitting or walking outdoors at least three times a week could reduce cortisol levels by 21%.</p> <h2>7. Avoiding depriving ourselves</h2> <p>When we change our diet to lose weight or eat healthier, we typically restrict certain foods or food groups.</p> <p>However, this <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18568078/">heightens activity</a> in our mesocorticolimbic circuit – the reward system part of the brain – often resulting in us craving the foods we’re trying to avoid. Foods that give us pleasure release feel-good chemicals called endorphins and learning chemicals called dopamine, which enable us to remember – and give in to – that feel-good response.</p> <p>When we change our diet, activity in our hypothalamus – the clever part of the brain that regulates emotions and food intake – <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18568078/">also reduces</a>, decreasing our control and judgement. It often triggers a psychological response dubbed the “what-the-hell effect”, when we indulge in something we think we shouldn’t feel guilty about and then go back for even more.</p> <p>Don’t completely cut out your favourite foods when you go on a diet or deprive yourself if you’re hungry. It will take the pleasure out of eating and eventually you’ll give into your cravings.</p> <p><em>At the Boden Group, Charles Perkins Centre, we are studying the science of obesity and running clinical trials for weight loss. You can <a href="https://redcap.sydney.edu.au/surveys/?s=RKTXPPPHKY">register here</a> to express your interest.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/215808/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993">Nick Fuller</a>, Charles Perkins Centre Research Program Leader, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/im-trying-to-lose-weight-and-eat-healthily-why-do-i-feel-so-hungry-all-the-time-what-can-i-do-about-it-215808">original article</a>.</em></p>

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When it comes to weight, your ‘diet’ is much more than what you eat

<p>Atkins, keto, palaeo, gluten-free, low-carb, low-fat, high-fat, raw, vegan, vego, pescatarian – phew, that’s a lot of different diets!</p> <div class="copy"> <p>And it’s by no means an exhaustive list.</p> <p>The old adage ‘you are what you eat’ has come to be a mantra for good diet and health. It was originally coined by 19th-century German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, himself drawing on commentary by an earlier French gourmand Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.</p> <p>Increasingly, science is finding new connections between diet and our overall picture of health. You may have heard how our gut microbiome acts as a second brain, or that avoiding unprocessed foods can lead to all-cause mortality.</p> <p>But when it comes to many fad diets that promise quick weight loss or improved health, the science can sometimes be skimp. This can change over time as researchers test the influence of diet on general health, weight management and as a medical treatment.</p> <p>The <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/mediterranean-diet-heart-dementia/">Mediterranean diet</a> is probably closest to the mark as a lifestyle of choice, in terms of overall health, nutrition, and diet science. It emphasises <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/nutrition/plant-based-diets-could-prevent-type-2-diabetes/">fruit and vegetable</a> consumption, with some wholegrain breads and cereals, legumes, nuts, seeds and fish, with olive oil as a primary fat source.</p> <p>This diet is either explicitly endorsed by many health authorities around the world such as the <a href="https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/mediterranean-diet" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">American Heart Association</a>, the <a href="https://www.racgp.org.au/clinical-resources/clinical-guidelines/handi/handi-interventions/nutrition/mediterranean-diet-for-reducing-cardiovascular-dis" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Royal Australian College of General Practitioners</a> as a diet for lowering cardiovascular disease risk, or used as a basis for other recommendations. The World Health Organization also <a href="https://www.who.int/europe/news/item/07-05-2018-fostering-healthier-and-more-sustainable-diets-learning-from-the-mediterranean-and-new-nordic-experience" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">advises</a> on ways for the Mediterranean and similar New Nordic diets to be implemented as <a href="https://iris.who.int/bitstream/handle/10665/326264/9789289053013-eng.pdf?sequence=3" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">health policy</a>.</p> <p>But diet might be better considered about more than what goes in one’s mouth.</p> <p>Dr Evangeline Mantzioris, Program Director of the Nutrition and Food Sciences Degree at the University of South Australia, says a truer interpretation of the world extends beyond merely food and drink.</p> <p>“The word diet actually derives from the Greek word <em>diaita</em>, which means the way you choose to live your life,” Mantzioris told the <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/tag/debunks/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener"><em>Debunks</em> podcast.</a></p> <p>“So it’s not just about the food, it’s about the exercise, it’s about the social interaction, it’s about the rest. It’s about the sleep. It’s all of that.”</p> <p>The WHO’s 2019 Health Evidence Network Synthesis Report also acknowledges both social and sleep components of the lifestyle, noting shared eating practices, post-meal siestas and lengthy meal times all contribute to positive health effects.</p> <p>In terms of the nutritional component, Mantzioris notes that adherence to the diet requires not just an uptake of olive oil, but cutting down on less beneficial foods and an active lifestyle.</p> <p>“It’s not just the olive oil, it’s dropping down the meat, it’s mainly a plant food diet, it’s purposeful exercise,” she says.</p> <p>“I’m always a little bit nervous when people just talk about the diet and the food without considering the rest of it.</p> <p>“In the 60s, when the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet were seen […] they were out there harvesting, growing their food, preparing their food, doing all that sort of purposeful exercise in the outdoor environment, often in quite steep terrain. So that is just as important.</p> <p>“The Mediterranean diet continues to be shown to be quite healthy and beneficial in terms of improving chronic disease risk, even without weight loss.”</p> <p>Mantzioris says that the diet has also been shown to improve cognitive and mental health outcomes.</p> <p>Diet is the focus of the latest episode of <em>Debunks</em> from Cosmos and 9Podcasts, where we dive not simply into what makes a good diet, but the principles that dieticians and nutritionists look for when recommending one for a patient to consider.</p> <p><iframe title="Weight: Do diets actually work?" src="https://omny.fm/shows/debunks/weight-do-diets-actually-work/embed?style=Artwork" width="100%" height="180" frameborder="0"></iframe> <!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=287991&amp;title=When+it+comes+to+weight%2C+your+%E2%80%98diet%E2%80%99+is+much+more+than+what+you+eat" width="1" height="1" loading="lazy" aria-label="Syndication Tracker" data-spai-target="src" data-spai-orig="" data-spai-exclude="nocdn" /></div> <div class="copy"> </div> <div><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></div> <div> </div> <div><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/diet-is-much-more-than-what-you-eat/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/matthew-agius/">Matthew Ward Agius</a>. </em></div>

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Are fish oil supplements as healthy as we think? And is eating fish better?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/evangeline-mantzioris-153250">Evangeline Mantzioris</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p>Fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, is promoted for a number of health benefits – from boosting our heart health, protecting our brain from dementia, and easing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.</p> <p>But what exactly are omega-3 fats and what does the evidence say about their benefits for keeping us healthy?</p> <p>And if they <em>are</em> good for us, does eating fish provide the same benefit as supplements?</p> <h2>What are omega-3 fats?</h2> <p>Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid. They are essential to consume in our diet because we can’t make them in our body.</p> <p>Three main types of omega-3 fats are important in our diet:</p> <ul> <li> <p>alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in plant foods such as green leafy vegetables, walnuts, flaxseed and chia seeds</p> </li> <li> <p>eicosapentanoic acid (EPA), which is only found in seafood, eggs (higher in free-range rather than cage eggs) and breast milk</p> </li> <li> <p>docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is also only found in seafood, eggs (again, higher in free-range eggs) and breast milk.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Omega 3s are key to the structure of our cells, and help keep our heart, lungs, blood vessels, and immune system working.</p> <h2>Eating fish vs taking a supplement</h2> <p>The initial studies suggesting omega-3 fats may have health benefits came from <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.0954-6820.1976.tb08198.x">observational studies on people eating fish</a>, not from fish oil.</p> <p>So are the “active ingredients” from supplements – the EPA and DHA – absorbed into our body in the same way as fish?</p> <p>An <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002916523281484">intervention study</a> (where one group was given fish and one group fish oil supplements) found the levels of EPA and DHA in your body increase in a similar way when you consume equal amounts of them from either fish or fish oil.</p> <p>But this assumes it is just the omega-3 fats that provide health benefits. There are other <a href="https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/science/monitoringnutrients/afcd/pages/default.aspx">components of fish</a>, such as protein, vitamins A and D, iodine, and selenium that could be wholly or jointly responsible for the health benefits.</p> <p>The health benefits seen may also be partially due to the absence of certain nutrients that would have otherwise been consumed from other types of meat (red meat and processed meat) such as saturated fats and salt.</p> <h2>So what are the benefits of omega 3 fats? And does the source matter?</h2> <p>Let’s consider the evidence for heart disease, arthritis and dementia.</p> <p><strong>Heart disease</strong></p> <p>For cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and stroke), a <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003177.pub3/full">meta-analysis</a>, which provides the highest quality evidence, has shown fish oil supplementation probably makes little or no difference.</p> <p>Another <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/8/2278">meta-analysis</a> found for every 20 grams per day of fish consumed it reduced the risk of coronary heart disease by 4%.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/getmedia/f1d22267-7381-4513-834b-df317bed9a40/Nutrition_Position_Statement_-_DIETARY_FAT_FINAL-4.pdf">National Heart Foundation</a> recommends, based on the scientific evidence, eating fish rich in omega-3 fats for optimal heart health. <a href="https://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/APJCN/17/3/385.pdf">Fish vary in their omega-3 levels</a> and generally the fishier they taste the more omega-3 fats they have – such as tuna, salmon, deep sea perch, trevally, mackeral and snook.</p> <p>The foundation says fish oil may be beneficial for people with heart failure or high triglycerides, a type of fat that circulates in the blood that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. But it doesn’t recommend fish oil for reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases (heart attack and stroke).</p> <p><strong>Arthritis</strong></p> <p>For rheumatoid arthritis, <a href="https://arthritis-research.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13075-022-02781-2">studies</a> have shown fish oil supplements do provide benefits in reducing the severity and the progression of the disease.</p> <p>Eating fish also leads to these improvements, but as the level of EPA and DHA needed is high, often it’s difficult and expensive to consume that amount from fish alone.</p> <p><a href="https://arthritisaustralia.com.au/managing-arthritis/living-with-arthritis/complementary-treatments-and-therapies/fish-oils/">Arthritis Australia</a> recommends, based on the evidence, about 2.7 grams of EPA and DHA a day to reduce joint inflammation. Most supplements contain about 300-400mg of omega-3 fats.</p> <p>So depending on how much EPA and DHA is in each capsule, you may need nine to 14 capsules (or five to seven capsules of fish oil concentrate) a day. This is about 130g-140g of grilled salmon or mackeral, or 350g of canned tuna in brine (almost four small tins).</p> <p><strong>Dementia</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0952327807001421?via%3Dihub">Epidemiological studies</a> have shown a positive link between an increased DHA intake (from diet) and a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0952327807001421?via%3Dihub">Animal studies</a> have shown DHA can alter markers that are used to assess brain function (such as accumulation of amyloid – a protein thought to be linked to dementia, and damage to tau protein, which helps stabilise nerve cells in the brain). But this hasn’t been shown in humans yet.</p> <p>A systematic review of <a href="http://betamedarts.gr/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/31Psychiatriki03_2020.pdf#page=58">multiple studies in people</a> has shown different results for omega-3 fats from supplements.</p> <p>In the two studies that gave omega-3 fats as supplements to people with dementia, there was no improvement. But when given to people with mild cognitive impairment, a condition associated with increased risk of progressing to dementia, there was an improvement.</p> <p>Another <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25446949/">meta-anlayses</a> (a study of studies) showed a higher intake of fish was linked to lower risk of Alzheimers, but this relationship was not observed with total dietary intake of omega-3 fats. This indicates there may be other protective benefits derived from eating fish.</p> <p>In line with the evidence, the <a href="https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/risk-factors-and-prevention/omega-3-and-dementia#:%7E:text=This%20could%20suggest%20that%20taking,its%20own%20may%20not%20be.">Alzheimer’s Society</a> recommends eating fish over taking fish oil supplements.</p> <h2>So what’s the bottom line?</h2> <p>The more people stick to a healthy, plant-based diet with fish and minimal intakes of ultra-processed foods, the better their health will be.</p> <p>At the moment, the evidence suggests fish oil is beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis, particularly if people find it difficult to eat large amounts of fish.</p> <p>For dementia and heart disease, it’s best to try to eat your omega-3 fats from your diet. While plant foods contain ALA, this will not be as efficient as increasing EPA and DHA levels in your body by eating seafood.</p> <p>Like any product that sits on the shop shelves, check the use-by date of the fish oil and make sure you will be able to consume it all by then. The chemical structure of EPA and DHA makes <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924224421005422">it susceptible to degradation</a>, which affects its nutritional value. Store it in cold conditions, preferably in the fridge, away from light.</p> <p>Fish oil can have some annoying side effects, such as fishy burps, but generally there are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3664575/">minimal serious side effects</a>. However, it’s important to discuss taking fish oil with all your treating doctors, particularly if you’re on other medication.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/212250/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/evangeline-mantzioris-153250">Evangeline Mantzioris</a>, Program Director of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Accredited Practising Dietitian, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/are-fish-oil-supplements-as-healthy-as-we-think-and-is-eating-fish-better-212250">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Jelena Dokic's candid discussion about mental health

<p>Jelena Dokic has opened up about her struggled with mental health issues, being diagnosed with an eating disorder, and the trauma that came with being a young tennis champion. </p> <p>The 40-year-old spoke candidly with <em><a href="https://honey.nine.com.au/latest/jelena-dokic-new-book-fearless-mental-health-recovery-diagnosis/83b5c0b9-4e64-40a9-b3b7-da438485f24f" target="_blank" rel="noopener">9Honey</a></em> ahead of the release of her tell-all book <em>Fearless: Finding the Power to Thrive</em>, which hits the shelves on September 12th. </p> <p>In Jelena's first book <em>Unbreakable</em>, she documented the abuse she endured at the hands of her father and tennis coach Damir Dokic. </p> <p>After the release of <em>Unbreakable</em>, Jelena found strength from other women who came forward to share their stories of abuse. </p> <p>"It's changed my life," she told <em>9Honey</em>.</p> <p>"I say that the day that <em>Unbreakable</em> came out was the best day of my life. It was the beginning of healing for me and basically finding happiness."</p> <p>She shared how her cultural background of being born in Croatia, combined with the secrecy of her career, meant she couldn't speak out about her abuse. </p> <p>"I was taught to be silent, to never say a word, to not speak up and to never talk about those things that go on behind closed doors.</p> <p>"And if you look at a lot of things in this world like abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, mental health, the power of those things is the silence, and that's how the abusers and the perpetrators control the situation."</p> <p>She went on to cite the MeToo movement, and stories of survival from Grace Tame and Simone Biles as reasons to come forward with her own story. </p> <p>"Everything changed once those amazing women spoke up," she says.</p> <p>Since going public with her story of struggling with mental health issues as a result of her abuse, Jelena has been subject to a slew of online hate. </p> <p>As a result of the onslaught and lasting trauma, the former tennis champion was diagnosed with bing-eating disorder, or BED. </p> <p>"I didn't even know originally that I had it," Dokic explains.</p> <p>She says she thought her disordered eating behaviours were "kind of normal" particularly on the professional sports circuit.</p> <p>"It wasn't really until the last couple years where I was dealing with actual trauma from the past and going through a lot of these things where I've discovered 'OK, I've got an eating disorder,'" Dokic says.</p> <p>After losing and regaining 50kgs in the past few years, and being the target of relentless online body shaming, Jelena wanted to speak out about body positivity and those who target different body types. </p> <p>"That's why I wanted to talk about it because again, I think that for a lot of people, it will resonate with them and I think that we need that representation," she said. </p> <p>"It doesn't matter because that should not be that main topic, do you know what I mean?</p> <p>"My kindness and who I am at my core, my IQ, my important values. Not my measurements."</p> <p>Through dealing with lasting trauma, an eating disorder, and a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD), all while being in the limelight, Jelena said it is important to be open and honest about your struggles, and not paint the picture of perfectionism. </p> <p>She has learned that being strong "has nothing to do with putting on this perfect front".</p> <p>"There's actually so much strength in being vulnerable," Dokic shares.</p> <p>"That actually takes courage and strength, being vulnerable and being honest and raw and open about everything, especially about your tough moments."</p> <p>"I am very proud of myself where I am now," she says.</p> <p>"And the biggest thing I'm proud of is the fact that there is absolutely no hate, bitterness or frustration from me going towards anyone or anything in life.</p> <p>"I have embraced all the difficult and tough times and just tried to make a positive impact. And I am, yeah, I'm very proud of that."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram </em></p>

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These 8 health changes could mean you need to eat more vegetables

<p><strong>8 clear signs you're not eating enough vegetables</strong></p> <p>You know veggies are good for you. You may also think you’re eating enough. The truth is, you probably aren’t. Read on to discover the many ways in which your body is telling you that it needs more fruit and vegetables, and what nutrients it craves.</p> <p><strong>How many veggies do you eat, anyway?</strong></p> <p>You may think you eat enough vegetables, but more than likely, you don’t. On average, we only get two servings of vegetables per day.</p> <p>The Australia Dietary Guidelines recommend adults eat five servings of vegetables (one serve equals 75 g of vegetables, approximately half a cup of cooked or one cup of salad veg) and two servings of fruit (one serve equals 150 g, about one apple or two apricots) per day. Skipping key nutrients can seriously affect your overall health.</p> <p><strong>There's a lack of colour on your plate </strong></p> <p>We’ve come a long way since the old meat and two veg. But there are still plenty of people that stick to the simple formula. However, “it isn’t very colourful or loaded with balanced nutrition,” says dietitian Abby Sauer. “And even though they may be favourites, pasta, rice and bread don’t add much colour or much nutrition to your meals in terms of essential vitamins and minerals.”</p> <p><strong>You bruise easily </strong></p> <p>Consuming too little vitamin C can cause you to bruise easily, as well as increase bleeding around gums and slow the healing process. Vitamin C can be consumed by eating red capsicums, kale, red chilli peppers, dark leafy vegetables, broccoli, brussels sprouts and tomatoes.</p> <p><strong>You're tired all the time</strong></p> <p>Deficiency in folate can cause fatigue and anaemia. This B vitamin can be found in dark leafy greens, legumes and starchy vegetables such as black-eyed peas, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, asparagus and lentils.</p> <p><strong>That nagging cold won't go away</strong></p> <p>“If you lack vegetables in your diet and the important vitamins they provide, your body may lack the defences it needs to release free radical fighters against viruses,” says Sauer. “Stock your fridge with dark leafy green vegetables, an excellent source of vitamin C, to give your immune system a boost and help shorten your recovery time.”</p> <p><strong>Your memory is foggy</strong></p> <p>While occasional forgetfulness can affect all ages, if you find your brain’s processing speed and efficiency fading as you get older, a lack of nutrients could be the culprit.</p> <p>“Lutein, a nutrient which has been shown in early research to enhance learning and memory, can be found in a variety of vegetables, such as leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, corn and tomatoes,” says Sauer. “Adding a few or all of these vegetables to your weekly meals can provide a helpful and natural brain boost.”</p> <p><strong>Daily stressors are getting harder to handle </strong></p> <p>While stress is an inevitable part of life, how we eat and treat ourselves directly affects our body’s response. “Inflammation is your body’s natural response to stress, so if you’re not handling stress well, inflammation and its damaging effects could be taking place,” says Sauer.</p> <p>“Foods rich in anti-inflammatory compounds, such as unsaturated fatty acids [like salmon and tuna], antioxidants, polyphenols and carotenoids [like green leafy vegetables and bright-coloured capsicums] can help lower the levels of inflammation in the body and increase your mental capabilities to handle life’s curveballs.”</p> <p><strong>You're prone to muscle cramps</strong></p> <p>Fruit and vegetables contain potassium that may prevent muscle cramps, especially if you exercise regularly or spend a lot of time outside in the hot summer months, says dietitian Dr Emily Rubin. “One medium banana has 422 mg of potassium.”</p> <p><strong>Your scales won't budge </strong></p> <p>“Fruit and vegetables have fibre, which makes you feel full so you eat less,” says Rubin. “Most fruit and vegetables are low in kilojoules. Fruit may also help with those sweet cravings. Choosing a bowl of strawberries instead of ice cream can save you 800 kilojoules.”</p> <p><strong>Eat more veggies: Keep them on hand </strong></p> <p>According to medical weight-loss specialist Dr Adrienne Youdim, prep is everything. “Spend a Sunday grilling your favourite veggies. Make them in abundance so that they can be incorporated into your salad or lunchbox,” she says.</p> <p><strong>Eat more veggies: Get one serving per meal </strong></p> <p>“Adding colour and variety to your daily meals with at least one serving of fruit or vegetables per meal can be as easy as thawing out a bag of frozen green beans, slicing up an apple or adding a bowl of colourful berries,” says Sauer.</p> <p><strong>Eat more veggies: Buy frozen</strong></p> <p>“Many people avoid fresh vegetables because they go off before they get a chance to eat them,” says clinical oncology dietitian Crystal Langlois. “Buying frozen vegetables is a great alternative that is convenient and easy. If all the prep work and chopping scares you, many supermarkets carry pre-chopped items in both the frozen and fresh produce areas.”</p> <p>And if you still have that inner-kid kicking and screaming to avoid eating your veggies, blend your veggies into shakes or smoothies. “The taste of vegetables is easily masked in shakes or smoothies by using fruit and fruits juice,” says Langlois. “Small diced mushrooms can be incorporated into hamburgers or Bolognese, as well.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/diet/8-clear-signs-youre-not-eating-enough-vegetables?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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How to eat oysters like a pro

<p>According to most etiquette rules, slurping your food (and eating with your hands) at the table is a big no-no. But when learning how to eat oysters, those established table manners can be thrown out the window. Whether you’re at a coastal seafood shack or a five-star restaurant, oysters demand to be eaten with your hands.</p> <p>And unlike other shellfish and crustaceans, oysters can (and should!) be eaten raw. Here’s how to eat those freshly shucked oysters the right way.</p> <p><strong>What are oysters?</strong></p> <p>Oysters are shellfish (bivalve mollusks, to be exact) that can be found in saltwater seas, estuaries and oceans around the world. Oyster shells are shucked (the method used to open the oyster to access the fresh meat inside), and they are popularly served raw on the half shell, but can also be battered and deep-fried, steamed, grilled or used in various seafood dishes, such as seafood pastas or chowder.</p> <p>The insides of oyster shells are lined with a shiny, iridescent layer called ‘nacre’, better known to most jewellery aficionados as mother of pearl (it’s what some oysters use to make pearls). However, it’s important to note that not all oysters do this, which is why naturally harvested pearls are exceedingly rare.</p> <p><strong>How to eat oysters</strong></p> <p>If you’ve never tried eating freshly shucked oysters before, you’re in for a real treat. They’re salty, briny and taste a bit like the ocean. Here’s how to eat oysters.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Select your oysters</em></span></p> <p>Unless you live in a seaside town where you can buy fresh oysters straight from the source, your first raw oyster experience should be at a reputable restaurant or seafood bar. This will allow you to taste a variety of oysters so you can determine your preferences. Most restaurant waiters will tell you the region where your oysters were caught.</p> <p><strong>Loosen the oyster from the shell </strong></p> <p>First, use an oyster fork or another small utensil to gently lift the oyster from the shell, being careful not to spill any of the flavourful liquid. This ensures the oyster meat has been fully detached from its shell. If your oyster has been professionally shucked, it should lift right up.</p> <p><strong>Dress your oysters (optional)</strong></p> <p>Oysters don’t need any help being delicious, which is why many people love slurping them directly out of their shells the moment they’re shucked. If it’s your first time eating oysters, try them plain so you can fully appreciate what they taste like naked. Once you understand their flavour, you can feel free to dress an oyster on its shell with sauces, seasonings and toppings.</p> <p>Restaurants often present oysters on a bed of ice and with common accouterments, such as lemon wedges, hot sauce, cocktail sauce, mignonette and horseradish.</p> <p><strong>Tilt and slurp</strong></p> <p>Tilt the shell straight into your mouth, letting the oyster meat and liquor slide into your mouth, just like you were taking a shot of alcohol. Take a few moments to savour the flavour, chewing lightly if you care to – oysters are tender enough that they don’t require chewing and can be gulped down as is.</p> <p><strong>Oyster FAQs</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What do oysters taste like?</em></span></p> <p>“The way an oyster tastes varies depending on species,” says Jasmine Norton, chef and owner of The Urban Oyster. “Some are more salty than others, depending on the region where they are sourced.” While every oyster has its own unique flavour profile reflective of the waters it’s grown in, they can all be described as briny with a light sweetness.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do you chew oysters?</em></span></p> <p>“Pending the preparation and size of the oyster, you can chew or swallow whole,” says Norton. “For example, I would chew a grilled oyster, but swallow a raw one. If I am chewing, my rule of thumb is no more than two chews.”</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Are oysters alive when you eat them?</em></span></p> <p>If you’re eating freshly shucked oysters on the half shell, the answer is yes. “Oysters should be eaten the day they are shucked, which means they are still alive. Alive means fresh,” says Norton.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>How do you prepare fresh oysters to eat?</em></span></p> <p>If you’re enjoying your oysters at home, you’ll need to shuck them yourself right before eating them. Shucking oysters requires special equipment and a good amount of skill – and it can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. So, buy an oyster shucking set that includes an oyster knife and protective gloves, and be sure to watch an instructional video to learn precisely how to do it.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Should you drain oysters before eating?</em></span></p> <p>“No, definitely not!” exclaims Norton. “This is where all the good salty flavour comes from.” If you’re cooking with oysters, reserve the oyster liquor and add it to your dish. If eating them raw, slurp the liquor along with the oyster meat.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>How do you know if an oyster is fresh?</em></span></p> <p>It’s easy to tell whether an oyster is fresh. “Oysters are very telling when they’re not fresh,” Norton says. “The smell radiates! When you know, you know.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/how-to-eat-oysters-like-a-pro" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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Does it matter what time of day I eat? And can intermittent fasting improve my health? Here’s what the science says

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/frederic-gachon-1379094">Frederic Gachon</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/meltem-weger-1408599">Meltem Weger</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>Early hunter-gatherers faced long periods of fasting. Their <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35834774/">access to food</a> relied on successful hunting, fishing, and the availability of wild plants.</p> <p>Over time, the development of modern agriculture and the transition to industrialised societies <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35834774/">changed our regular eating patterns</a>, shifting our dinner time to later in the day to accommodate work schedules.</p> <p>Today, with access to an abundance of food, we rarely experience prolonged periods of fasting, except for weight loss or religious practices. It’s <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26411343/">now common</a> to have four or more meals a day, with the most calories consumed later in the day. Frequent snacking is also common, over a window of around 15 hours.</p> <p>However, research increasingly shows our health is not only affected by what and how much we eat, but also <em>when</em> we eat. So what does this mean for meal scheduling? And can intermittent fasting help?</p> <h2>Our body clock controls more than our sleep</h2> <p>Our internal biological timekeeper, or circadian clock, regulates many aspects of our physiology and behaviour. It tells us to be awake and active during the day, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-it-matter-what-time-i-go-to-bed-198146">rest and sleep</a> during the night. It can also tell us the best time to eat.</p> <p>Our body is biologically prepared to have food during the day. Food digestion, nutrient uptake and energy metabolism is optimised to occur when we’re supposed to be active and eating.</p> <p>Working against this default stage, by regularly eating when we’re supposed to sleep and fast, can compromise these processes and impact our health. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31813351/">Erratic eating patterns</a>, including late-night meals, have been linked to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36198293/">weight gain</a> and a greater risk of metabolic disease.</p> <p>Shift-workers, for example, and people who work evening, night or rotating shifts, have a <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-does-night-shift-increase-the-risk-of-cancer-diabetes-and-heart-disease-heres-what-we-know-so-far-190652">higher risk</a> of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.</p> <p>But adopting an eating pattern that aligns with our circadian rhythm can reduce these risks.</p> <h2>So can intermittent fasting help?</h2> <p>Nutritional interventions are increasingly focused not only on “what” we eat but also “when”. Intermittent fasting is one way to restrict the timing, rather than the content, of what we eat.</p> <p>There are <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35834774/">several types</a> of intermittent fasting, one of which is time-restricted eating. This means eating all our calories in a consistent 8-12 hour, or even shorter, interval each day.</p> <p>But is it backed by evidence?</p> <p>Most of what we know today about intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating is from <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35834774/">mouse studies</a>, which demonstrate remarkable weight loss and overall health benefits associated with these types of dietary interventions.</p> <p>However, some aspects of mouse physiology can be different to humans. Mice need to eat more frequently than humans and even a short period of fasting has a more significant physiological impact on mice. One day of fasting in mice leads to a 10% <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212877820301320">loss of body weight</a>, whereas humans would need to fast for 14 days to achieve <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30881957/">similar results</a>. This makes a direct translation from mice to humans more complicated.</p> <p>While health benefits of <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2623528">intermittent fasting</a> and <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2114833">time-restricted eating</a> have also been observed in humans, the findings in respect of weight loss are less clear. Current data suggest only modest, if any, weight loss in human participants who undergo these diet regimens when compared to calorie-restricted diets.</p> <p>Drawing <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35834774/">definitive conclusions</a> in humans may be more <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32480126/">difficult</a> because of the small sample sizes and individual differences in metabolism, variations in study design (such as the use of different protocols with varying times and duration of food restriction), and participants not complying with their instructions.</p> <h2>Health benefits could be due to eating fewer calories</h2> <p>Most studies describing the health benefits of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33466692/#:%7E:text=and%20Future%20Perspectives-,Time%2DRestricted%20Eating%20and%20Metabolic%20Syndrome%3A%20Current%20Status%20and%20Future,doi%3A%2010.3390%2Fnu13010221.">time restricted eating</a> or <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27569118/">intermittent fasting</a> also found these diets were accompanied by calorie restriction: reducing the time of food access implicitly leads people to eat less.</p> <p>Studies that controlled calorie intake did not detect any more benefits of intermittent fasting than <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2623528">calorie restriction</a> alone.</p> <p>The weight loss and health benefits observed with intermittent fasting is likely attributed due to the resultant reduction in <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34135111/">calorie intake</a>. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32986097/">Similar findings</a> have been reported for time-restricted eating.</p> <h2>Benefit of following our body clock</h2> <p>Nevertheless, time-restricted eating offers additional health benefits in humans, such as improved glucose metabolism and blood pressure, even without differences in calorie intake, in particular when restricted to the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29754952/">earlier part of the day</a> (that is, when having a six-hour eating window with dinner before 3pm).</p> <p>Restricting food intake to the daytime for shift-workers <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28635334/">can alleviate</a> metabolic differences caused by shift-work, whereas this effect is not observed when food intake is restricted to <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abg9910">nighttime</a>.</p> <p>One idea is that consuming food early, in alignment with our circadian rhythm, helps to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28578930/">synchronise our circadian clock</a>. This restores the rhythm of our autonomous nervous system, which regulates essential functions such as breathing and heart rate, to keep our physiology “tuned”, as it was shown <a href="https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2015873118">in mice</a>.</p> <p>While there’s much still to learn from research in this field, the evidence suggests that to maintain a healthy weight and overall wellbeing, aim for regular, nutritious meals during the day, while avoiding late-night eating and frequent snacking.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/203762/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/frederic-gachon-1379094">Frederic Gachon</a>, Associate Professor, Physiology of Circadian Rhythms, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/meltem-weger-1408599">Meltem Weger</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-it-matter-what-time-of-day-i-eat-and-can-intermittent-fasting-improve-my-health-heres-what-the-science-says-203762">original article</a>.</em></p>

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What to eat before bed if you want a good night’s sleep

<p><strong>What to eat before bed</strong></p> <p>It’s after 8 pm and you can feel your stomach grumbling. Should you stick it out until morning or head to the kitchen? Night-time eating tends to get a bad reputation – people often worry it causes weight gain, heartburn, indigestion or all three. But it all depends on what you reach for, says nutritionist Nishta Saxena.</p> <p>Saxena says there isn’t a clear-cut time of day that we have to stop eating. Studies have found that it’s not when you’re eating, but how much and what you’re eating which matters. Super salty snacks at the end of the day can, for example, make you dehydrated and interrupt your sleep – and they’re not the only culprits that can affect whether you have a good night’s rest.</p> <p>In general, it’s best to eat small portions before bed. Also try to stay away from foods high in protein or fat, which can be harder for our bodies to digest and can interrupt the natural cadence of our systems, which slow down for the night by producing sleep-inducing hormones like melatonin. Excessive sugar can also act like a stimulant – a bad choice if you’re trying to catch some Zzzs.</p> <p>Saxena suggests eating something that’s high in carbohydrates, which can promote sleep and help you to relax. This is because carbs don’t require as much blood flow or work from your body to digest and are therefore unlikely to interrupt your sleep. If you find yourself with an after-dinner case of the munchies, follow these tips on what to eat before bed.</p> <p><strong>Kiwis</strong></p> <p>Kiwis can help to promote sleep because they are rich in serotonin and antioxidants (such as Vitamins C and E). Serotonin helps to make you feel relaxed and certain antioxidants have sleep-promoting qualities.</p> <p>Plus, these fuzzy fruits are extremely high in vitamin C and our bodies can digest them quickly, says Saxena. They also support heart and digestive health as well as natural immunity.</p> <p><strong>Tart cherries</strong></p> <p>Tart cherries and tart cherry juice contain concentrated amounts of melatonin, a hormone that helps your body regulate sleep-wake cycles, says Saxena. Studies show that they can help to reduce insomnia, plus they also contain other sleep-inducing agents like tryptophan (a precursor of serotonin).</p> <p>Since tart cherries can be a little bit harder to find than other fruits, Saxena suggests keeping some in your freezer and using them to make a smoothie.</p> <p><strong>Nuts</strong></p> <p>Nuts are great for a variety of health benefits, says Saxena, and they’re also a good late-night snack. Just don’t dish out a whole cup of nuts, she warns, because they do contain surprising amounts of protein and fat.</p> <p>In particular, she recommends walnuts and almonds – they contain natural melatonin as well as magnesium, which has the potential to reduce insomnia in adults.</p> <p><strong>Popcorn</strong></p> <p>While pre-packaged microwave popcorn most likely contains too much salt to be a good bedtime snack, popping your own can satisfy people who are craving snack foods like chips.</p> <p>Popcorn is also relatively filling – just don’t drown your bowl in butter and salt.</p> <p><strong>Yoghurt</strong></p> <p>Dairy products, while not consumed by everyone, have a lot of components that stimulate sleep, says Saxena. Something like yoghurt doesn’t require a lot of digestive processes, and even full fat yoghurt doesn’t have a ton of fat in it, making it easy to digest.</p> <p>Plus, it’s filled with amino acids, like tryptophan, which promote sleep.</p> <p><strong>Green bananas</strong></p> <p>Saxena says a greenish banana, “almost the colour of a tulip stem,” is a great evening snack. At this point, the banana is full of starch, which means it hasn’t yet become sugar, and this can be great for our gut bacteria and also helps to promote sleep.</p> <p>She adds that the banana should be firm and have a tiny bit of yellow in the midsection. If it has black spots, it’s too ripe to help with sleep and won’t provide a benefit.</p> <p><strong>Warm milk</strong></p> <p>The benefits of warm milk for sleep are well-documented, says Saxena. This is in part because milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes sleep. Warm fluids in general can relax our digestive muscles.</p> <p>“It can be a self-care moment when you’re having something warm,” Saxena says. “Your hands are wrapped around the mug and it’s a sensory experience.”</p> <p><strong>Cottage cheese</strong></p> <p>While cottage cheese has lots of protein, it also has the benefits of dairy, including amino acids, that help to promote sleep. It’s also nutrient-dense, containing calcium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus, which are essential for bodily function.</p> <p>It can also be a good late-night snack for athletes, because it’s high in the protein casein, which helps to reduce muscle breakdown overnight. Still, stay away from other cheeses before bed – most are very high in fat and easy to overeat, warns Saxena.</p> <p><strong>Oatmeal</strong> </p> <p>While people often think of oatmeal as a breakfast food, oats are high in melatonin and so can make a good bedtime snack. Like dairy products, oats also contain the amino acid tryptophan.</p> <p>You can also spice up your oatmeal with many of the other foods that are okay to eat before bed – tart cherries, yogurt, or almond butter, for example.</p> <p><strong>Pasta</strong></p> <p>If you’re really hungry, try some pasta – but keep the portion small and be careful to not load your dish with toppings that are high in protein or fat.</p> <p>For example, you don’t want to have a super-cheesy meatball pasta before bed, says Saxena. But a small serving of plain pasta with pesto sauce might do the trick.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/sleep/what-to-eat-before-bed-if-you-want-a-good-nights-sleep?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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This is the healthiest time to eat dinner

<p><strong>When should we eat dinner?</strong></p> <p>Recent research highlights that the timing of our meals, particularly the last meal of the day, can significantly affect our health. The story is not merely about what we consume, but also about when we do so.</p> <p>The debate about dinner timing finds substantial scientific backing with a Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) study published in Cell Metabolism in October 2022, suggesting that early dinners could have more health benefits than previously believed.</p> <p><strong>The science of early dinner</strong></p> <p>Senior author of the study, Dr Frank A. J. L. Scheer, Director of the Medical Chronobiology Programme in BWH’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, explained the study’s objective in a press release: “We wanted to test the mechanisms that may explain why late eating increases obesity risk.”</p> <p>The study defined an early dinner as a meal consumed three to four hours before bedtime, aligning with our body’s circadian rhythm. This time management allows the body to efficiently digest food, process nutrients, and smoothly transition into a fasting mode during sleep, facilitating essential restorative processes (and arguably better sleep, according to some experts).</p> <p><strong>The benefits of an early-bird dinner</strong></p> <p>The BWH study discovered stark differences in metabolic profiles of early and late diners. Early diners demonstrated lower blood glucose levels, improved fat-burning capacity, better sleep quality, and higher energy levels. Meanwhile, late dinners led to increased hunger, slower calorie burning, and elevated fat storage, posing risks for conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.</p> <p>Further reinforcing these findings, a study published in Obesity Reviews examined the effects of energy intake distribution on weight loss. This systematic review evaluated nine randomised controlled trials and concluded that focusing on earlier energy intake resulted in significantly greater short-term weight loss. Alongside weight loss, improvements were observed in insulin resistance, fasting glucose and LDL cholesterol levels.</p> <p><strong>Implications and recommendations </strong></p> <p>These findings hold considerable implications for those dealing with health conditions like diabetes, thyroid issues, polycystic ovarian disease, and cardiovascular disorders. The studies spotlight the importance of early and light dinners, thus prompting a re-evaluation of our dinner schedules and meal planning.</p> <p>As first author Dr Nina Vujovic put it: “Does the time that we eat matter when everything else is kept consistent? And we found that eating four hours later makes a significant difference for our hunger levels, the way we burn calories after we eat, and the way we store fat.”</p> <p><strong>Tailoring dinner time to fit your schedule </strong></p> <p>The exact timing of dinner isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario, as people’s routines vary widely. Nutritionist Maya Feller emphasises that our schedules – ranging from traditional nine-to-five to round-the-clock – are pivotal when considering “ideal” meal times. Therefore, finding a dinner time that seamlessly fits into your schedule is essential, rather than adhering to a strict, potentially unfeasible timetable.</p> <p>Dr Wendy Bazilian offers insightful tips for those whose routines may not accommodate an early dinner. She recommends consuming meals or snacks every three to five hours. This regular eating pattern can help stabilise blood sugar levels, preventing the onset of hunger pangs and energy lulls.</p> <p>Furthermore, it’s advantageous to leave a gap of two to three hours between your last meal and bedtime. This gap ensures your body has sufficient time for most of the digestion process – letting you get adequate rest and repair during sleep.</p> <p><strong>Health benefits</strong></p> <p>The takeaway from these studies is clear: an earlier dinnertime might confer multiple health benefits, from metabolic health enhancement to improved sleep quality. It’s time to reconsider not just the contents of your plate, but also the clock.</p> <p>As research grows, it’s becoming apparent that understanding the interplay between our eating habits, their timing, and the body’s internal clock should be an integral part of our health strategies. After all, leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t solely about counting calories but also understanding when and how to fuel our bodies.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/this-is-the-healthiest-time-to-eat-dinner" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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