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    Archive for the ‘sleeping’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Omega-3s Increase Type 2 Diabetes Risk?

    080708193249-largeWhat are your thoughts on the reported link between omega-3 intake and type 2 diabetes recently published in an article featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition?

    — xo2hearts
    (via Twitter)

    The AJCN is a well-respected, top-of-the-line journal, so it is no surprise that many of its studies resonate all over the Internet.

    This one, titled “Dietary omega-3 fatty acids and fish consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes” is particularly controversial, since its main conclusion is that there appears to be “an increased risk of type-2 diabetes with the intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, especially with higher intakes (more than 0.20 g omega-3, or more than 2 servings of fish a day.)”

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    You Ask, I Answer: Eating at Night

    Why did you say [in your Michelle Obama post] that the principle of not eating late [at night] is hogwash?

    Doesn’t the digestive system interfere with sleep if it is still working full-time at bedtime?

    — Elsa (last name unknown)
    Via the blog

    The recommendation of not going to bed with a full stomach makes sense if you are talking about acid reflux or heartburn.

    Finishing up a large dinner and falling asleep on the couch half an hour later can be problematic since acidic gastric compounds from the stomach can enter the esophagus and cause symptoms that disrupt sleep.

    I was referring, though, to the common myth that not eating after a certain hour (usually 7 PM) leads to weight loss, as if there were a “magical” caloric bewitching hour.

    Eating after 7 PM will only result in weight gain if whatever you consume puts you over your caloric needs. A piece of fruit or a cup of low-fat yogurt are no more fattening at 10 PM than they are at 2 PM.

    What gets left out of these inane “weight loss rules” is that, very simply, the more hours you are awake, the more calories you are likely to consume. Hitting the sack an hour and a half after dinner doesn’t leave as much room for hunger as staying up for another four hours.


    In The News: Vitamin Zzzzzz…

    I have recently received a handful of e-mails asking for nutrition-related immunity-boosting tips to prevent — or fight off already existing — colds.

    Would an extra glass of orange juice help? What about some yogurt with probiotics? Zinc lozenges?

    My answer is usually the same: “The most important you can do is get sufficient sleep. Zinc capsules and vitamin C do not override exhaustion.”

    Alas, The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting on a study that reveals just how important sleep is for fighting off colds.

    Lead author Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University confirms that “the longer you sleep, the better off you are [and] the less susceptible you are to colds.”

    Volunteer subjects were handsomely paid to “have cold viruses sprayed up their noses, then wait five days in a hotel to see if they got sick.”

    I hope it was a five-star one with all perks included!

    Since sleep is one of the top immunity boosters, it is not too surprising that “the people who slept less than seven hours a night in the weeks before they were exposed to the virus were three times more likely to catch a cold than those who slept eight hours or more.”


    Survey Results: What Happens In The Bedroom…

    According to the latest Small Bites survey, eighty-three percent of respondents believe a lack of sleep affects their eating habits.

    They are certainly not imagining things!

    A fair number of research studies have found that sleep deprivation (usually defined as less than five hours of sleep a night) can affect hunger levels and, in some instances, even food choices.

    The majority of studies focus on two hormones — leptin and ghrelin.

    Leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells, decreases hunger levels.

    Ghrelin performs the opposite function. The higher your ghrelin levels, the hungrier you feel.

    When sleep deprivation occurs — particularly when it happens on a consistent basis — leptin production decreases and ghrelin product increases.

    End result? You are hungrier than normal.

    One mystery that has baffled researchers is why sleep deprivation is often linked to a stronger desire for starchy, sweet, high-carbohydrate foods.

    The answer appears to be found with orexins, neurotransmitters in the hypothalamus that have been linked to increased cravings.

    It is theorized that increased ghrelin production also raises levels of orexins.

    It should also be pointed out that sleep deprivation not only gets in the way of performing physical activity, but also makes routine tasks — like cooking a 15 minute meal — seem daunting.

    Lower physical activity and increase your intake of takeout or fast foods over a consistent amount of time and you can see how sleep and eating habits are closely linked.


    You Ask, I Answer: Nighttime Snacking/Digestion

    My mom believes that eating right before bed is unhealthy and causes weight gain.

    I don’t believe that it causes weight gain because as you stress, what matters is how many calories are consumed [in one day], not when [you eat them].

    But, is [eating right before bed] unhealthy? My mom thinks [so, because she says] our digestive system needs to “sleep”.

    I always “need” to snack before bed (I think it’s more of a psychological thing), but keep my portions in check.

    She seems to think that fruit is “lighter” as opposed to bread which is “heavier” and harder on our bodies. Is it okay for me to have “heavy” foods like bread/cereal before I sleep as long as its within my caloric needs?

    — (Name Withheld)
    Kaoshiung, Taiwan

    One issue that can occur if you go to bed soon after eating is acid reflux, or heartburn (a condition in which stomach acid creeps up into the esophagus).

    Other than that, there isn’t anything inherently unhealthy about having a slice of bread or a bowl of cereal an hour or so before going to bed as long as it isn’t a caloric overload.

    Heavy foods should be avoided before going to bed so as to not cause indigestion, so either fruit or cereal are smart options. I do not consider cereal or bread to be heavy, especially not if you’re just having a cup of a whole grain cereal low in added sugar.

    Keep in mind that even though we go to sleep, our organs do not.

    Full digestion of a meal, for instance, takes anywhere from 18 to 48 hours. So, our digestive tract works all day, every day.


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