Scientists study it, rats prove it, you need to do it. Healthy living!

Posted on September 21, 2009


Unhealthy Homer

Unhealthy Homer

In the last few weeks, three very interesting studies came out regarding the direct implications of having an unhealthy diet and lack of a fitness program. Always looking for ways to get through to everyone who has at least one foot out of the ground, I’ve brought you the condensed version of what has been published in the hopes that it will sway you even more to lace up those running shoes, put on the oversize Bears t-shirt & get going on this fitness thing of yours! 

Here is what the latest studies have taught us. Skipping exercise & eating unhealthfully will…

…Decrease immediately your brain capacity & physical ability.

…Increase substantially your risk of losing brain matter.

…Increase your predisposition for disease exponentially. 

Hmm, going nuts, getting dumber, & getting diseased…I’d like to take a pass on all that, & I hope you do too! Read on! 

1. A study out of Cambridge University looked at rats & the effects on their memory & fitness ability immediately following an uptick in fat in their diet. The rats were trained to run a maze while collecting rat treats along the way until they reached the end of the maze. All of the rats mastered the maze collecting at least 6 or 7 of the possible 8 treats that were in the maze for them to get. 

Half the rats where then switched to high-fat rat food vs. the regular rat food with balanced nutrients. After four days, the rats eating the fatty chow began to falter on the maze test — all of them did worse than when they were on their regular chow. On average, the rats on the fatty diet found only five treats before making a mistake. The rats who stayed with their regular food continued the same high level of performance on the maze, finding six or more treats before making a mistake. In addition, the rats had been trained to run on a treadmill. After a few days on the high-fat diet, the rats performed 30% worse on the treadmill than at the start. 

Your take away? High-fat diets seem to trigger insulin resistance in the brain, making it tough for the brain to function optimally. Want to have high brain power? Eat low-fat foods as well as balanced nutrition foods. In regard to physical performance, the high-fat diet forces the body to handle the overload of fat, thus slowing down the metabolism. So you eating those fatty foods with excess calories, means it’s going to be harder to burn them off since your metabolism is slowing down in response to the offending food. 

2. Coming out of a study at UCLA, brains scans of 94 people in their 70’s showed that obese people had 8% less brain tissue than normal-weight individuals. Their brains look 16 years older than the brains of lean individuals. Lead researcher, Paul Thompson, says this “reflects severe brain degeneration.” Overweight people had 4% less brain tissue and their brains appear to have aged prematurely by 8 years. Brain matter was lost in every area of the brain- places where memory is stored, where movement & executive function comes from, just to name a few. The more than 300million people worldwide who are classified as obese (as stated by the World Health Organization) & the other billion who are considered overweight got there in large part to an unhealthy diet that is reliant on highly processed foods.

Your take away? I can’t stress it enough, highly processed foods that come from boxes and not the ground are the surest way to lose control of your health, fitness & wellness. Ensuring that you get enough activity in to burn calories & build muscle, and are consuming the right foods, is critical to maintaining mental health long-term.

3. The American Heart Association released a statement this week regarding the ridiculousness of sugar consumption in Americans. The average American adult consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar per day. That would be like drinking two full-calorie sodas & eating a chocolate bar every day! Overload of sugar in the diet leads to excess body fat & weight, potential for type-2 diabetes, decreased immunity to disease in the body & the scariest part – as soon as sugar rush hits the blood stream, it can alter the DNA of cells taking your cells away from their optimal function capability. Your cells make up all the things that run your body – without their proper function, all you have is disease & dysfunction.

 Your take away? The recommendation is that women should be getting no more than 6 teaspoons -100 calories worth- per day & men should get no more than 9 teaspoons -150 calories worth- per day. This is relating to added sugars, not the ones founds naturally in fruit, vegetables or dairy. To find added sugar, you have to read the label & look for things I’ve mentioned in previous articles – corn syrup, dextrose, honey, crystalline agave nectar – along with many other names for ‘sugar.’ Even if you never eat dessert or treats, you are getting way more sugar than you realize thanks to food producers giving us poor quality foods filled with saccharine junk. 

On a final note this week, if you think we are at the mercy of our food producers for the food quality in our supply, think again! You can voice your choice for what you want to see in the supermarket by only purchasing things that meet your high standards & by getting others to support the same cause. Our dollars determine what producers give us, and THAT can be a powerful thing!