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It Has Nothing To Do With Age provides self-help principles. The inspirational stories give concrete illustrations of overcoming many of life's challenges. Difficulties pertaining to depression, grief, divorce, and death are presented and worked through by the participants. Physical impairments, injuries, overcoming issues with weight, alcohol, and nicotine are also dealt with and resolved by the athletes.

This book provides a model on how to overcome some of the difficulties that confront all of us . Further, this read sheds a beacon of light on preventive measures for good physical and mental health. Research demonstrates that exercise is an important component in treating such ailments and debilitating illness such as depression, stroke, heart disease, brain or cognitive malfunction,and Alzheimer's disease.

I suggest that proper exercise can be used as a preventive measure for psychological, cognitive, and physical health as well. Follow my prescription and lead a better, more fulfilling, and healthier life.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Brain,Obesity and Food : Part 2

"Never let life's hardships disturb you…no one can avoid problems, not even saints or sages."– Nichiren Daishonin

A few more statistics regarding obesity related illnesses and private health insurance spending since 1987.  Hopefully, this gets your attention 1. Employers and privately insured families spent 36.5 billion in obesity related illnesses in 2002 and increase from inflation adjusted spending of 3.6 billion in 1987. 2. It is estimated that treating an obese individual in 2002 cost $1244 more than treating a healthy weight individual. In 1987 the cost difference was $272.  3. It is predicted that as the obesity epidemic continues, the skyrocketing cost will soar even higher. Just think, for a moment of all that fast food consumed, and, who is profiting at your expense?
Are you addicted to food? Of course you are.   As far as dopamine, one of our neurotransmitters is concerned: 1. The sight and smell of food raises dopamine levels. 2. The obese have fewer dopamine receptors. 3. The obese may need to eat more to attain the same level of dopamine stimulation. 4. The mere presence of food triggers the pleasure and motivation centers of the brain.5. Sights, smells, sounds of food trigger dopamine release. 6. Food addictions are fueled by exposure to food stimuli via advertising, candy machines, food channels, food displays, bakeries, etc.
Just pass by a fast food establishment or visit a market while hungry to test your dopamine levels. What about viewing a food commercial of some young adult biting into a gigantic burger with food dripping from his mouth?  Does that commercial appeal to you?
Guess what, food and drug addiction are located in the same areas in the brain. High dopamine is involved with satiation of hunger and cravings. Sugar and fat produce psychological comfort. Fat, sugar, salty foods are most addictive. Sugar may generate production of endogenous opioids. Food addictions can be very strong: some people can quit 2 to 3 drinks/day but not ice cream. In conclusion yes food like drugs can be addictive.
 How do you control your addictions? Alpha and I visit Baskin-Robbins after every tough (tiring) trail run event.
A more serious suggestion about dealing with food addictions or binge eating behaviors comes from Duke University. Yes, it’s the same university that’s associated with Coach K. the famous basketball coach.  Consider the program known as HALT  .Simply ask yourself before eating whether  you feel any of the following: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.
1. Anger: verbalize what you are angry about; if appropriate find the person you’re angry at. If that is impossible, speak with someone else or write your feelings down. Hitting a pillow or taking a brisk walk may help. Don’t look for your automatic weapon.
2. Loneliness: if possible, make plans with a friend or family member. Sign up for an exercise class such as yoga, an adult education or community college class. If you’re unable to get out of the house, pick up the phone and call a friend or relative. These strategies seem to work better than e-mail or other impersonal computer-based approaches.
3. Tired: the best thing to do is to take a nap for 20 to 30 minutes. Short of that close your eyes for five minutes or take a brief but brisk walk. Breathe deeply to inhale fresh oxygen and get your brain and body circulation going. Meditation can be helpful as well.
No one ever said that this is easy. It takes discipline; adult like behavior, smart choices, consistent follow through-in other words it’s a lifelong event. It’s no wonder why pills, diets, exercise stuff is such a big industry. Source: Institute for Natural Resources.
To be continued:


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