Weight Gain? The Brain and Gut Disconnect?

“A good predictor of who will gain weight is who says they plan to lose some. Last year, 108 million Americans went on diets. Long-term studies of dieters find that they’re more likely to end up gaining weight in the next two to fifteen years than people who don’t diet.” Sandra Aamodt, Ph.D. Why Diets Make Us Fat. 2016.

Rebound’ Weight Gain: A Disconnect Between Brain and Gut May Be a Factor

Healthline. By Christopher Curley, September 15, 2022

Fact Checked: Jennifer Chesak

“Experts say weight gain after weight loss is common among adults and children.

  • Researchers say a new study indicates that a disconnect between the brain and the gut may be a reason that people tend to gain weight after initially losing weight.
  • They say in many people who have lost weight their gut will tell them they’re full after eating a meal, but their brain will try to tell them they’re still hungry.
  • Experts say the disconnect may be due to the body’s attempt to store fat during weight loss.

Nearly halfTrusted Source of adults in the United States try to lose weight each year, but many will not keep that weight off long-term.

In fact, only about one in five people who are overweight can maintain weight loss for a year or longer, research showsTrusted Source.

While there are many competing theories about why that is, ranging from psychological to biological, a new study of children with obesity suggests the answer might lie in a disconnect between gut hormones and brain signals.

Researchers at Seattle Children’s Hospital in Washington put children with obesity on a 24-week weight loss program, monitoring their brain activity and gut hormone responses before and after the trial.

At the end of the weight loss program, the researchers reported that after eating a meal the children’s gut showed normal levels of regulatory hormones indicating that they were full and satisfied.

Their brains, however, showed levels of activity signaling that they were still hungry.

The researchers also found that the more weight a child lost, the more likely they were to react to food cues after completing a meal —their brain essentially telling them they were still hungry while their gut was telling them the reverse.

“Our results imply that during weight loss intervention, your body acts to conserve fat through maintaining hunger responses in the brain and that this needs to be addressed,” Dr. Christian Roth, a lead study author and professor at Seattle Children’s Hospital, said in a press release.

Roth said larger, more extensive studies would be required to confirm these findings.

“It would also be useful to investigate how long the disconnect between central and local appetite regulation persists after maintained weight loss, to guide intervention plans,” he added.

“This is a very interesting study and I think that a lot of these findings are applicable to adults as well,” said Dr. Mir Ali, a bariatric surgeon and medical director of MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center at Orange Coast Medical Center in California.

“I see in my patients that they feel the need to eat, even if their stomach feels full,” Ali told Healthline. “There is certainly a strong psychological component to eating behavior that surgery and medications cannot always address completely.”

“I feel this research is on the right track and we need to find a way to satisfy the brain as well as the gut,” he added. “This will require extensive research in both children and adults to find the right solution.”

Beyond hormones

One of the more notable aspects of the study is how it complicates our understanding of how hormones affect appetite and rebound weight gain.

Previous studies have shown that an increase in appetite hormones after weight loss might be a key driver of these rebound gains.

The results of this study paint a more nuanced picture where even if gut hormones are normal, the brain is out of sync.

“The study underscores our understanding of obesity and weight homeostasis as a chronic disease of the brain,” said Dr. Mert Erogul, an attending physician at Maimonides Medical Center in New York.

“The regulation of appetite is enormously complex and layered,” he told Healthline. “From the digestive tract, there are hormones that signal fullness, such as leptin, CCK, and peptide YY. There are also hormones that signal hunger, such as ghrelin. These are in constant interplay with seemingly subjective feelings that come from the brain such as food preference and liking as well as motivation to eat.”

Ultimately, experts say this may require a holistic approach to weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.

“Rebound weight gain is very common and happens for many physiological, behavioral, and psychological reasons,” said Dr, Steve Patching, a medical director of bariatric surgery at Sutter Hospital in Sacramento, California.

“Believe it or not, weight loss actually sets up your body for weight gain,” he told Healthline. “This is because the body always strives for symbiosis. This is why we often still feel hungry or even starving after we eat a ‘normally satiating’ meal. It is also why correct weight loss should be done slower than we often want.”

Weight loss needs to occur in the context of a durable commitment to changes in diet and lifestyle,” he said. “Even then, obesity medicine specialists recognize that people who are overweight often need lifelong therapy with medications to maintain weight loss.”

In the News: Keto diets and cancer?

Medical News Today:

New research explores the benefits of keto diets for reversing colorectal cancer in mice.

“Colorectal cancer (CRC) is reported to be the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. Studies have shown that high-sugar diets, and excessive consumption of animal protein — especially red meat — increase CRC risk.

On the other hand, studies show that diets involving fasting and caloric restriction are against intestinal tumors in animal models. Whether they may translate over to humans remains unknown.

Recently, researchers conducted a series of mouse studies investigating the underlying protective mechanisms behind a low-carb diet for CRC. A new study demonstrated in a mice model that it prevents colorectal cancer by activating a growth slowing receptor which is found in the lining of the bowel. This receptor may play an important role in preventing cell growth within the intestine,”

Understanding more about the mechanisms underlying the effects of various diets on tumor growth could help researchers develop treatments and preventative options for CRC.

The new study was published in.

Dmitrieva-Posocco, O., Wong, A.C., Lundgren, P. et al. β-Hydroxybutyrate suppresses colorectal cancer. Nature 605, 160–165 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-022-04649-6

Cognitive Fitness and Diet

Eat Right to Maintain Cognitive Fitness

Your brain is fed by the same blood vessels that keep your heart pumping – so it makes sense that when they become unhealthy or your blood pressure is too high, the damage can affect both your heart and mind.

So what foods are heart healthy are also brain healthy? Two diets that have gained positive attention are elements of the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH diet have been shown by a plethora of research to help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. It is thought that these two dietary patterns help the brain by keeping blood flowing efficiently and reducing damaging inflammation. Both are low in saturated fat and recommend a diet heavy on plant foods and healthy fats with a low consumption of red meat, sugar, and processed foods.

There are certain components of healthy diets that can be top choices on what makes these diets stand out with healthy benefits:  

Omega-3 fatty Fish Oils and Brain Health

Protecting Brain Structure: Myelin

The BASICS:  Most all cells contain omega3s (EPA, DHA) and omega-6s in their cell membranes. Most nerve signals cannot be conducted without a special sheath called myelin and fatty  acids like EPA and DHA are necessary for cell membrane structure.  Myelin insulates the nerve fibers of nerve cells.

Brain cells are susceptible to damaging neurotoxins. Long-chain omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA are important for brain development, production of hormones and checking inflammation. Research has also shown that they lower blood triglyceride levels resulting in decreasing cardiovascular risks.  A  meta-analysis found that people with the highest consumption of omega-3, EPA and DHA have an association with a 14% risk reduction of death from any cause when compared to people who consume less.  A new area of research has suggested that fish oils as EPA and DHA are involved in brain health. This is important since there is evidence that omega-3s can protect against neurotoxins that damage the nervous system including the brain.

For example:

1300 elderly women underwent MRIs of the brain to assess how much exposure they had to a type of air pollution called PM for three years prior to the MRI.  PM  pollution is known to have neurotoxic effects known to be linked to strokes, cognitive decline, and dementia. The new study was published in the journal, Neurology,

Results showed that “women with higher levels blood levels of fish oils (omega-3s) had significantly greater volumes in the brain areas (hippocampus) associated with cognition, and memory, and white matter which contains nerve fibers that connect brain cells. The results indicated that women with higher levels of omega-3s were protected against the brain-damaging effects of PM exposure”.

Improved Depression Symptoms

A meta-analysis published in Translational Psychiatry, researchers reported that relatively high dose supplements with a high concentration of EPA to DHA significantly improved the symptoms of mild to moderate depression (mood, sleep disturbances, and fatigue) in pregnant and postpartum women. Higher doses need to be given by primary care physicians.

The U.S. diet is sadly abundant in omega-6 fatty acids; however, on the other hand, sadly deficient in omega-3 fats —-but that’s another story.

Omega-3 fats contain antioxidants that help protect our cells from damage including the heart and brain. A study published in the June 2020 issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia found that people who closely followed a Mediterranean Diet had a lower risk of developing cognitive impairment in the following 10 years, compared with those who did not follow that eating pattern. But people who ate the most fish had both a reduced risk of cognitive impairment and also slower cognitive decline when compared to those who ate less fish.

Plant Oils

Substituting healthy plant oils like olive oil, sesame oil or canola oil for saturated fat such as butter, helps keep your mind healthy. These simple changes help to keep your blood vessels clear of damaging plaques. Extra-virgin olive oil is particularly rich in antioxidants.

Nuts

Nuts are great as snacks since they are rich in fiber and protein.  The least processed are the best choice.

Some nuts like walnuts, pecans, and chestnuts, contain high amounts of antioxidants. Also, walnuts are rich in a type of plant-based omega-3 fats called alpha linolenic acid which helps fight inflammation and cellular damage.

Coffee

While not a part of the Mediterranean or DASH diets, plain coffee can provide a good source of antioxidants. However don’t over do it and hold the sugar and cream – two cups a day of black coffee is probably enough, research says.

Courtesy of Best Foods for Women’s Health, Women’s Health Guide, Harvard Medical School

The Epigenetics of Obesity

Obesity is a chronic condition characterized by excess body fat. Its origins are mulfifactorial including heredity, behavior and environment. Obese people are at risk of developing many diseases. In fact, obesity is the second most important predictor of cancer, preceded only by tobacco use.

Epigenetics refers to those elements of the genetic code that you are able to change without altering your DNA sequence. It includes which genes you express, to what degree and at what time. Consequently, epigenetic processes determine whether a specific gene is active or not at any given time. In the absence of further studies. Genes can be expressed or not expressed.

Your epigenetics develop in the uterus and continues to change throughout your life. A study in the Netherlands during the famine period of 1944-1945 demonstrated how genetics affects obesity. Fetuses of mothers exposed to extreme hunger experienced more glucose intolerance, dyslipidemia, early coronary heart disease, and obesity. Therefore, starving could cause some of the diseases that are prevalent in society today. These genes can be transmitted from generation to generation. Unlike the genome (the complete set of genes in a cell), the epigenome is reversible. Epigenetic marks can be modified throughout life. However, modificationss at critical periods of prenatal development have greater effects on the results. So DNA is not your destiny!!

Lead a healthy lifestyle prior to conceiving a baby, especially the mother; however, there are some indications that the father’s lifestyle can also be influential. Ideally, both expectant parents and the offspring should maintain good lifestyle habits to include healthy diets, physical activity, adequate sleep, stress reduction, and avoidance of inflammation.

CLICK HERE.

DNA

Crime and Nourishment???

We have all heard about the rising crime rates occurring in the U.S. Our first inclination is to wonder what could be going on in our country to cause this – or at least what is contributing to this disturbing shift of behavior?

“The issues of diet and criminal behavior are limited but intriguing. If you’ve ever found yourself in front of the TV after a bad day, mindlessly digging ice cream out of the container with a spoon, you know that mood and food are sometimes linked. But while stress eating is a verified phenomenon, the relationship between food and actual mood disorders, depression and even behavior needs some attention. Can dietary changes potentially improve our mental health.? What do the studies say?

Scientists looking for answers – Hints of a Link

Before, we jump into the science (research), some basics:

As we all know, our behavior is mostly controlled by our brain. Every organ in the human body requires nutrition to function properly and when it doesn’t get what it needs it functions abnormally. So, is there any reason that the brain should be an exception? The brain is a complex organ so that alone should be enough to assume that if it does not get the proper nutrition, it might just not work as well as it should.

Recent research offers a viewpoint that the brain and the gut “talk to each other” through the presence of the microbiome – the community of microorganisms that lives inside our digestive tract.  When this communication channel is “out of whack” or missing essential nutrition, major health problems can crop up in both the mind and body, enabling food sensitivities, allergies, digestive disorders, obesity, depression, anxiety, and fatigue.

“A study indicated that when levels of the brain chemical serotonin decrease from stress or not eating, it affects the brain regions regulating anger, potentially resulting in “a whirlwind of uncontrollable emotions”. 

“Prison studies suggest that many inmates have poor blood sugar control, compounded by a high-sugar diet. We all know how it feels when blood sugar drops – we feel moody, foggy. Apply that to someone from a disturbed backgound.”

In a randomized, placebo-controlled trial,  Oxford criminologist Bernard Gesch found that giving prison inmates a multivitamin and fatty acid supplement led to violent offenses dropping 37% compared to 10% for those who were given a placebo – findings that were confirmed by a later Dutch study.

“In a large study of prison diets, Stephen Schoenthaler, Professor of Criminology and Sociology at California State University found that prisoner’s eating habits could be used to predict future violent behavior. Normally, past violent behavior is considered the best prediction of future violence. But professor Schoenthaler found that a poor diet is an even better predictor of violent behavior.”

He also found that that in a study of young offenders in California, young adult men receiving vitamin supplements showed a 38% drop in serious behavior problems.

The types of problems associated with poor diet, such as aggression, attention deficits and hyperactivity can make impulsive behavior more likely. Low levels of iron, magnesium and zinc can lead to increased anxiety, low mood, and poor concentration, leading to attention deficits and sleep disturbances. Omega-3 fatty acids, are often deficient in the U.S. diet and needed to improve cognitive functioning.

“No one blames a poor diet as a cause of crime, nor is it the only solution. But if better nutrition in general can bring about a substantial reduction in violent crime in and out of prisons, that would be something to cheer about. For isn’t a good diet, made up of good food, a better and less expensive solution than just hiring more police and building more prisons?”

Needless to say, The Standard American Diet (SAD) needs more attention for all of us, not just in our prison population. Simply, with the input of nutrition scientists, education of the consumer, and cooperation of the food industry, we desperately need more healthy food choices for our personal health and that of our food culture.

Schoenthaler, S.J., Ames, S. Dorax, W., et al (1997)

The effect of randomized vitamin mineral supplementation on violent and non-violent antisocial behavior among incarcerated juveniles. Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, 7:343-352.

The Conversation: Crime and Punishment – the link between food and offending behavior. Hazel Flight, John Marsden, Sean Creaney. 2018

The Guardian. Can Food Make You Angry? Rebecca Hardy. Wed.24 Apr 2013.

C. Bernard Gesch, Sean M. Hammond, Sarah E. Hampson, Anita Eves, and Martin J. Crowder

Influence of supplementary vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids on the antisocial behavior of young adult prisoners. British Journal of Psychiatry 2002, 181, 22-28

The Concerning Rise of GMO Food Animals: Goats, pigs, fish??

“Most grocery stores and butcher shops don’t want to sell genetically modified fish and food animals.” We have seen the rising interest of consumers of “Impossible Burgers” and “Beyond Burgers” now available in supermarkets; however, their success is not widely advertised.

The development of genetically engineered food animals or their products soon to be available like goats, pigs, cattle, and salmon (some already approved by the FDA will likely increase because GMO’s represent greater profits for big meat producers… “

CLICK HERE.

Olive Oil and Health?

Adding more olive oil to your diet may help prevent an early death.?

A recent study from the researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health was published online Jan. 10, 2022 by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Data from 90,000 men and women, free of cardiovascular disease and cancer were asked to complete a dietary questionnaire every four years. At the end of the data collecting, 36,856 of the participants had died.

From the diet questionnaires, it was found that those who routinely consumed the most olive oil – averaging more than one half a tablespoon a day – had the lowest risk of dying during the 28 – year old follow-up period compared with people who rarely or never consumed olive oil.

The Olive Oil comsumers had:

A 19% lower overall risk of death

A 19% lower risk of cardiovascular disease

A 17% lower risk of cancer-related disease

A 29% lower risk of death related to a neurodegenerative condition

A  18% lower risk of death related to a respiratory disease

This may explain why olive oil as a major component of the Mediterranean diet has consistently shown health benefits in numerous studies. The results also suggest that when used as a substitute for products containing animal fat such as butter, we see the same benefits.

Bon appetit!

In the News: Vitamin D and Fish Oil

Can vitamin D and fish oil prevent autoimmune disease.? Autoimmune diseases are a category of conditions where an individual’s immune system acts abnormally, often attacking and destroying healthy tissues by mistake. Many triggers can cause an individual’s body to start making components referred to as antibodies. Usually, antibodies help the body fight off infections. However, in patients with an autoimmune disease, attack the body’s healthy tissues instead. These diseases include diabetes type 1, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, or thyroid disease to name a few (possibly 80 of them) and usually affect women more than men. Symptoms vary, but can include pain, fatigue, skin problems, and other chronic conditions.

Study Methods

The study called the VITAL study was published Jan 26, 2022 in the BMJ was a randomized controlled trial included 25,871 racially diverse people over the age of 50 who were split into two groups. One group took 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 each day; those in another group took 1000 mg of fish oil and a third group took both. Another group took two placebos. The study was blinded – i.e. no one knew which group they were in.

Results

“During a five-year follow-up, participants reported any diagnoses of any autoimmune disease that were verified with medical records.

Compared with a placebo, vitamin D supplementation was associated with a 22% reduced risk of autoimmune disease overall. The improvement was greater (39%) after the first two years of treatment. Fish oil alone showed less robust results, but still showed fewer participants with confirmed autoimmune diagnoses compared with placebo.”

Toxicity

Both vitamin D and fish oil may have some effects due to the ability of each to regulate or tame the inflammatory response that “drive autoimmune disorders.” It is too soon based on one study to make recommendations that people take either vitamin D or fish oil supplements – but those with a strong family history should consult with their primary health care provider about these decisions. The vitamin D dose used in the study is more than twice the recommended daily intake of 600 IU or 800 IU for people 71 and older. WARNING: The consequences of overdoses or toxicity can occur at 10,000 IU daily. It is not necessary to take megadoses of any supplement unless your doctor approves it.

Harvard Women’s Health Watch, Volume 29, Number 10 June 2022.

The Best Foods for Health and Why–Phytonutrients

The Best Cholesterol-Lowering Food: Cruciferous Vegetables.

You can’t go wrong with increasing your intake of plants from the Brassica family – broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and Brussel’s sprouts. There are many studies that have found them to provide valuable nutrients and even help to prevent cancer and heart disease. What makes them so powerful?  They are high in dietary fiber, polyphenols (phytochemicals) and provide over 40 phenolic compounds labeled “cruciferous” meaning their leaves grow in a cross-pattern. Cruciferous means “cross”.

The red color of many cruciferous vegetables is significant. Anthocyanins are pigments that cause the red and purple coloring of many kales, cabbage, and other colorful vegetables. How do they lower blood cholesterol? One study found that healthy volunteers a fed a beverage of primarily broccoli and cabbage two times a day for three weeks that showed a significant decrease in the so-called ‘bad” cholesterol, LDL. Follow up studies produced the same results.

What Foods Lower Blood Pressure? One important group is those who contain polyphenols – such as berries. They are a large family of phytochemicals particularly in cardiovascular health. Their benefits come from their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and blood vessel dilating properties, and immune system functions. All fruits and vegetables contain polyphenols, but certain ones like berries, cocoa, tea, pomegranate, olives, and grapes contain especially high amounts.

Harvard researchers found that anthocyanins were the primary flavonoid associated with polyphenols’ benefits to blood pressure. Just one serving of blueberries per week significantly reduced the risk of high blood pressure by 10% in those over age 60 compared with people in the same age group consuming no blueberries. Anthocyanins are present in other common fruits and berries such cranberries, blackberries, and strawberries.

Source; Harvard Medical School, Best Foods for Women’s Health.

Healthy Eating Plate – Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, The Nutrition Source.

A new study: Vitamin D, Fish Oil and Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune diseases are a category of conditions where an individual’s immune system acts abnormally, often attacking and destroying healthy tissues by mistake. Many triggers can cause an individual’s body to start making components referred to as antibodies. Usually, antibodies help the body fight off infections. However, in patients with an autoimmune disease, they attack the body’s healthy tissues instead. These diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, or thyroid disease to name a few (possibly 80 of them) and usually affect women more than men. Symptoms vary, but can include pain, fatigue, skin problems, and other chronic conditions. A new study suggests that vitamin D and fish oil supplements may offer over 50 protection.

Study Methods

The study called the VITAL study was published Jan 26, 2022 in the BMJ and was a randomized controlled trial that included 25,871 racially diverse people over the age of 50 who were split into two groups. One group took 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 each day; those in another group took 1000 mg of fish oil and a third group took both. Another group took two placebos. The study was blinded – i.e. no one knew which group they were in.

Results

“During a five-year follow-up, participants reported any diagnoses of any autoimmune disease that were verified with medical records.

Compared with a placebo, vitamin D supplementation was associated with a 22% reduced risk of autoimmune disease overall. The improvement was greater (39%) after the first two years of treatment. Fish oil alone showed less robust results, but still showed fewer participants with confirmed autoimmune diagnoses compared with placebo.”

Toxicity

Both vitamin D and fish oil may have some effects due to the ability of each to regulate or tame the inflammatory response that “drive autoimmune disorders.” It is too soon based on one study to make recommendations that people take either vitamin D or fish oil supplements – but those with a strong family history should consult with their primary health care provider about these decisions. The vitamin D dose used in the study is more than twice the recommended daily intake of 600 IU or 800 IU for people 71 and older. The consequences of overdoses or toxicity can occur at 10,000 IU daily.

Harvard Women’s Health Watch, Volume 29, Number 10 June 2022.