How Americas Diet Culture Hinders Those With Eating Disorders

The inevitable January advertising of New Year, New You has arrived, and with it, the societal pressure to drop weight.

For some, this can be motivating, even goodafter all, Americas obesity rate is at a record high, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But for many, the pressure to lose weight can be quite triggering, especially for those predisposed to developing eating disorders.

Longstanding research has shown that eating disorders can be hereditary, meaning some people are simply more likely to develop them than others. But new research from the Eating Recovery Center shows there might be a more specific genetic link than previously thought.

The risk of developing an eating disorder is largely inherited, meaning that people with a family history of eating disorders are more likely to have one, but the identity of which genetic variation increases that risk is unknown, Michael Lutter, who works as an attending psychiatrist for the Eating Recovery Center, told The Daily Beast.

Lutter researches the genetic and neurobiologic basis of eating disorders; his goal is to find a very specific genomic mutation that could cause eating disorders. While the genomic mutation hes looking for most likely affects a very small amount of people, it could be a game changer for treating eating disorders.

Lutter compared his search for this gene to that of breast cancers BRCA1 and 2 mutations.

Individuals with those mutations have a much higher risk of breast cancer, but only three percent of breast cancers are caused by these mutations, according to the CDC.

Similarly, we are trying to find something similar in the eating disorder population. If we can find the rare mutation, then it gives a better understanding of the underlying neurobiology of eating disorders, he said.

Lutters latest research sequenced the genes of 93 unrelated people with eating disorders, some who restrict their food and some who binge eat. Its pretty uncommon for an eating disorder patient to struggle exclusively with anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, as people will cross over disordered eating behaviors in their lifetime, Lutter said, so the two groups of patients that were tested was a fair sample for this study.

He found specific links in two different genetic variations. For restrictive eaters, the variant is called neurotensin, which works in the brain to regulate appetite and tells your body it needs more food. For binge eaters, its called glucagon-like peptide 1, a hormone released by the gastrointestinal system after meals to tell you when youre full.

These results dont surprise Lutterhe says the fact that people with eating disorders would have genetic mutations for genes involved in appetite and fullness makes sensebut they had never been seen before. Still, the findings are in their preliminary stages; they cant be applied in a clinical setting yet.

Right now theres no way to use genetics to guide treatment but it does offer a better understanding of the pathophysiology of the illness that we can do these studies and measure levels of these hormones, Lutter said. He thinks that were close to developing treatment for eating disorders based on genetics in the next 10 or 20 years.

Lutter said that whats exciting is that there are drugs on the market that could target the hormones in the genetic variations his research found. For example, some diabetes medications might be able to restrict ones urge to binge eat. There are good drug targets so there are a lot of new potential leads for researchers to develop new treatments, he noted.

Until then, however, the New Years resolution madness can be quite challenging.

Lauren Muhlheim, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist for Eating Disorder Therapy LA, says that while this genetic research is important, its also relevant to know that there is no one single cause of someones eating disorder.

They are very complicated illnesses that dont stem from a single cause but from a complex interaction of biological, psychological and environmental factors. And I dont think you can ever tease it apart, she said.

Those environmental factors? The huge focus around losing weight or becoming a better version of yourself for the New Year.

Even though research shows that 80 percent of New Years resolutions (the top two being exercising more and eating healthier) fail, its easy to buy in to the idea that you need to lose weight, specifically at a time when were bombarded with messages that target body insecurities.

I cant remember who said it, but someone once said that the diet industry is brilliant because its the one product that repeatedly fails and makes you believe that its your fault, Muhlheim said. People are very susceptible to the newest fad diet, so I think its a very challenging time of year to people who are susceptible to eating disorders, especially with social media. Were getting more bombarded than we have in the past.

How do you know if youre susceptible to eating disorders? As its a very complex disease, its impossible to pinpoint this, but Tom Hildebrandt, Chief of the Division of Eating & Weight Disorders at Mount Sinai Health System, told The Daily Beast that some things to take note of are whether or not youre in an environment where restriction and dieting is valued in a critical way, are extremely stressed or are going through a big transition in your lifewhether thats high school to college, college to adulthood, becoming a parent, or even going through menopause.

The thing about this time of year is really not to get caught up in the swarm of information that comes from peers, social media and advertisers trying to sell you fixes to it, Hildebrandt said. Try to insulate yourself against that stuff.

This, of course, is easier said than done. Muhlheim suggested curating a healthy, body-positive feed on your social media channels and consuming culture that steers away from harmful messaging. Muhlheim recommended following the hashtag #haes, or healthy at every size, and #intuitiveeatinga quick search yields registered dietitians like Claudia T. Felty and Alissa Rumsey, whose feeds are all about having a healthy relationship foodor downloading podcasts like Love, Food.

That said, eating disorders are dangerous. If you or someone you know is struggling, its important to get an evaluation by a physician or a therapist, Muhlheim said, referring those who may be binging or purging, is preoccupied by obsessive thoughts about food, is having trouble functioning normally, or is skipping social events to contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline or the Eating Recovery Center.

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Will President Trumps Physical Show That Hes Obese?

Donald Trumps physical will take place Friday, his first as president. Hell be examined by Dr. Ronny Jackson, a rear admiral in the Navy and the White House physician since 2013, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.

This physical, however, will be anything but routine, providing the American public with rare insighthowever sparseof Trumps baseline health.

Trumps most recent public physical was done in September 2016 under his longtime physician Harold Bornstein in New Yorks Lenox Hill Hospital. Bornsteins letter (which the White House has since removed) proclaimed the then-candidates physical strength and stamina… extraordinary, pointing to Trumps recent loss of 15 pounds.

In the letter, Bornstein released a deluge of statistics intended to showcase a candidate that, despite his status as the oldest occupant of the Oval Office, was vibrant and capable of handling the stresses of being the most powerful person in the world.

But in fact, Americans learned that Trump was teetering on obesity.

He was 6-foot-3, weighing 236 pounds. His BMI (though a controversial measure, one that is widely used) rang in at 29.5, which placed him squarely into being considered overweight, and precariously close to being considered obese. Trumps cholesterol was 169 mg/dL, which isnt great but isn't necessarily terrible. His HDL (good cholesterol) of 63 and LDL (bad cholesterol) of 94 were also fine but sneaking close to dangerous. To his healths advantage, Trump is a teetotaler and doesnt smoke. But any doctor would advise a Trump-like patient to go on a diet.

Compare this to Trumps predecessor, Barack Obama. His last presidential physical, released in March 2016, showcased a man in excellent health: At a little over 6-foot-1, his weight was 175 pounds, which meant a BMI of 23.1, considered normal. Obamas blood pressure (110/68), cholesterol (188 mg/dL, with HDL at 68 and LDL at 125) were all within the boundaries of normalcy and health. Obama was a smoker, but he made some attempts to quit.

Jacksons evaluation of Trump on Friday will probably offer restricted information. But the vitals that will probably come outheight and weight, at least, an indicator of cholesterol and blood pressure levelswill offer valuable insight into Trumps health and how the year since he took office has affected him.

What makes this physical particularly interesting for those who are watching is the fact that so much information has been released of Trumps diet and (lack of) exercise. There are countless reports now of a man who finishes meals with a couple scoops of ice cream paired with chocolate cream pie, washing them down with one of a dozen Diet Cokes a day. His preference for McDonaldsFilet o Fish sandwiches, Big Macs, cheeseburgers as a pre-bedtime snackapparently stem not only from his fear of being poisoned but the simple fact that he loves the predictability and flat saltiness of the stuff. Coupled with the fact that he finds exercise to be misguided, arguing that a person, like a battery, is born with a finite amount of energy and has bragged about sleeping only four hours a night, and the resulting picture is not one of health.

Indeed, Trumps habits make him a prime example of being a white man in Trumps America: overweight, underslept, static, maybe even obese. The language of obesity and how we measure it remains hazy despite the fact that its considered an American epidemic. But BMI is widely considered the best way to measure obesity, and by that definitionand should Trumps alleged diet in fact be trueit very well could be that Fridays publicly announced height and weight markers may show Trump as the most obese modern president, behind bathtub-stuck William Taft (BMI: 42.3), potbellied Grover Cleveland (BMI: 34.6), and original American cowboy Teddy Roosevelt (BMI: 30.2).

Trumps physical results on Friday may in fact veer his numbers into the dangerous zones theyre so precariously close to. Even if they do, does it mean anything? Does it matter if Trump is not as healthy as hed like us to believe? No matter your feelings or politics about the current administration, one thing is for sure: The presidency is not an easy job. Cant a person eat their feelings in peace?

Surebut Trump is the leader of the free world. Hes apparently got a very large button to shoot nuclear weapons. His words move markets, his signature dictates the lives of refugees. If Trump is sluggish from a couple burgers and a chocolate malt, or slurring his words, feeling irritable from the down of a sugar high, might that affect our daily lives? It very well could.

Trump has vehemently promoted the idea that he is healthy, strong, full of stamina. But stamina is, by definition the ability to exert prolonged, sustained mental and physical effort. If Trump is erratic in his stamina, does it mean hes unfit for office? Thats impossible to measure, but one fact is for sure: A healthy diet is one that allows for the slow and steady release of nutrients and energy. Various outlets reported the effects of following the Trumpian McDonalds diet, with universal consensus that it led to exhaustion, irritability, and sluggishness. Its enough to question if Trump has the actual stamina to lead.

At the very least, Trumps lifestyle is a recipe for a series of health problems: exhaustion, diabetes, high cholesterol. His diet runs counter to that of what the United States Department of Agriculture suggests is a healthy diet, one where a plate is half fruits and vegetables, a quarter protein, and grains composing the last quarterwith just a smidge of fat and salt. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults over 65 to do two-and-a-half hours of moderately intensive cardiovascular activity every week with at least two days of muscle strengthening activities.

Ultimately, Trumps decision to release information will be up to him. We will probably learn frustratingly few details about what Trumps health is outside of very basic parameters.

But that might be enough.

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Neuroscience Reveals the Secrets to Success

Weve been taught that if you dream big, work hard, have a positive mindset, learn from your mistakes, and persist, you can be anything you want in life.

But brain imaging has shown that it takes some help from a healthy, sharp brain to achieve your potential. At Amen Clinics, we perform brain imaging called single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), which looks at blood flow and activity patterns in the brain. Since 1991, we have performed more than 135,000 brain SPECT scans on patients from 120 countries. SPECT has taught us four important lessons about the brain that show why its instrumental to a persons success.

1) Protect the most human, thoughtful part of your brain. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is the part of your brain that makes you human, involved in complex behaviors and personality development. In humans, it accounts for 30% of the brains volume. Compare that to chimpanzees, whose prefrontal cortex is 11% of their brains volume; dogs at 7%; cats coming in at 3%; and mice at just 1% of their volume. The PFC is involved with executive functions, such as focus, forethought, judgment, impulse control, and empathy. It functions like the boss at work. When the PFC is low in activity, people struggle to make good decisions. Thats what makes protecting it, particularly from brain injuries, especially important. In a study we published in PLOS One, we found that 91% of traumatic brain injuries involve the PFC.

Luckily, preventing brain injuries isnt difficult: Dont let children or teens hit soccer balls with their heads, play tackle football, or engage in other activities that leave them vulnerable to injuries. Alcohol and marijuana decrease PFC function; the less consumed, the better. Make sure to sleep 7 hours a night; less than that decreases PFC function, increasing the likelihood your decision-making could be compromised.

2) Safeguard your brains pleasure centers. Deep within the recesses of the brain are structures involved with pleasure and motivation, most notably two areas called the nucleus accumbens in the left and right hemispheres. They are intensely activated by the neurotransmitter dopamine with substances like cocaine, sex, video games, high-fat, sugary foods, and fame. Dopamine fuels addiction, making everyday activities less interesting. Intense pleasure means huge dopamine dumps, which over time causes the nucleus accumbens to be less responsive, consequently causing the need for more and more of the behaviors. You can protect your pleasure centers by limiting thrill-seeking activities that could wear them out, like racing, cocaine, methamphetamines, excessive video games, pornography, and scary movies. Instead, engaging in safer behaviors that protect the brain, such as sunlight, exercise, meditation, and listening to pleasurable music, can help cushion your pleasure centers. Having a dedicated passion and purpose in life also helps to activate the pleasure centers in a healthy way.

3) Know how to keep your brain and memory healthy for a lifetime. Another lesson from our brain imaging work is that illnesses, such as Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia, begin in the brain yearseven decadesbefore people have any symptoms.

But you can do something about it, and prevention seems to be key. In Daniels new book, Memory Rescue, he found the best way to keep your brain healthymaybe even rescue it if you think it is headed for troubleis to prevent or treat the 11 major risk factors that could steal your mind.

The mnemonic BRIGHT MINDS can help:

  • Blood flow: Low blood flow is the #1 brain imaging predictor of Alzheimers disease. Strategies to increase blood flow include regular exercise and consuming beets and the supplement ginkgo.
  • Retirement/aging: When you stop learning, your brain starts dying. New learning should be part of everyones life.
  • Genetics: Genes are not a death sentence, but they should be a wake up call to get serious about brain health if you have dementia or Alzheimers disease in your family history. Be very serious about brain health as soon as possible if this is the case.
  • Head Trauma: Your brain is soft, and your skull is hard with sharp bony ridges. Protect it from falls and getting hit with helmets or avoiding dangerous activities that put your head in danger.
  • Toxins, drugs, alcohol, environmental toxins, such as mold: Support the four organs of detoxification with simple steps. Drink more water to flush out your kidneys. Eat more fiber to help your gut along. Sweat might be stinky but is good for wringing out toxins, which can easily be achieved with exercise or saunas. And detoxify your liver with hefty amounts of vegetables, particularly brassicas (kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts).
  • Mental health issues: If you struggle with depression and chronic stress, get help from a professional.
  • Immunity and infections:Optimize your vitamin D level to help optimize against inflammatory diseases like Lyme disease.
  • Neurohormone deficiencies:Regularly test and optimize your hormones if you have a history of thyroid problems or testosterone imbalances.
  • Diabesity:As you might guess, this dual condition comes from a combination of high blood sugar and being overweight. Eat a calorie-smart diet, filled with colorful fruits and vegetables, protein, and fat. That's right, don't be afraid of fat: Brain function relies on fat to perform at optimal levels.
  • Sleep issues: Sleep apnea or chronic insomnia can interrupt brain function and make it hard to be productive. Make sleep a priority. If you have sleep apnea, get it treated.

4) You are not stuck with the brain you have. You can make it better. At Amen Clinics we performed the first and largest brain imaging and rehabilitation study on active and retired NFL players. We saw high levels of brain damage in our players, which was not a surprise. Most of them had been hit in the head thousands of times. What did surprise us was that 80% of our players showed improvement in as little as two months on our Memory Rescue program. Most people have not been repeatedly hit in the head, which means there is hope for all of us to have better brainsand better lives. Protect your brain: It's crucial for your health and success.

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Newly Discovered Enzyme Prevents Sugar Being Stored As Fat

Its January, and many of you are likely scrambling to pick a diet in an attempt to lose some of the post-Christmas weight gain. Your body’s conversion of all the excess sugar consumed into fat certainly didn’t help, but a team of researchers from the University of Montreal may have found a way to regulate this. As reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a new enzyme has been discovered that can directly control how your body converts sugar and fats.

Mammalian cells use both sugar (glucose) and fatty acids as their main sources of energy. Much of this glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen, a dense compound that can be mobilized whenever the body requires it for energy production. Those in developed countries tend to have diets that are too sugar-rich, giving themselves far more glucose than their body needs at the time. An excess of carbohydrates will also produce too much sugar for the body to be able to immediately use. Any large glucose excess is converted and stored as fat, and a major build up can lead to obesity.

Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreatic beta cells, causes the liver to convert glucose into glycogen. Those with type 2 diabetes do not produce enough insulin when required, or they produce ineffective insulin that isnt able to interact with the glucose in the blood, meaning glucose remains in the bloodstream.

Excess glucose in the blood also leads to the over-generation of a glycerol 3-phosphate (Gro3P) within cells. Normally, Gro3P participates in many cellular processes, including the formation of fats (lipids) andthe conversion of glucose into other useful compounds (glycolysis).

However, too much Gro3P is toxic to cells; tissues can be damaged, and the metabolic, glucose, and fat conversion processes are unable to operate properly. The derangement of these can lead to type 2 diabetes and even cardiovascular (heart) disease. Thus, excess glucose in the body is essentially toxic for a variety of reasons.

Cupcakes, of course, will input a fairly high amount of sugar into your bloodstream. Ruth Black/Shutterstock

As this new study details, an enzyme called Gro3P phosphatase, or G3PP, has been discovered, hiding within all types of body tissue. This enzyme appears to be able to regulate both the conversion of glucose and fats into other compounds, and the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cell’s “energy currency.” This means that G3PP has direct influence over how glucose and fats are used within the body.

Using laboratory rats, the researchers showed that increasing the activity of G3PP within their livers ultimately lowers their weight gain and ability to produce glucose from the liver. Murthy Madiraju, a researcherat the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM), noted in a statement that G3PP prevents excessive formation and storage of fat and it also lowers excessive production of glucose in liver, a major problem in diabetes.

This offers a stepping stone for researchers hoping to manipulate this enzyme within humans. By using G3PP to alter how glucose and fats are absorbed and produced, those unable to control this themselves such as those suffering from type 2 diabetes could potentially be treated.

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17 of Today’s Funniest Memes

Fresh off the meme press. 

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    Via: wilfordbrimley

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    Via: betasalmon

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    Via: tatum.strangely

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    Via: baptain_brunch

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    Via: thestupidamerican

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    Via: comfysweaters

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    Via: yourdogsatonmyface

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    Via: dankmemeguy

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    Via: friendofbae

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    Via: friendofbae

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    Via: kalesalad

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    Via: therealhousedogsofla

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    Via: betasalmon

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    Via: badtastebb

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    Via: memesformemers

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    Via: erik_davidson

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    Via: _taxo_

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