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6 Reasons It May Seem Like You Are Always Hungry

Even if you just ate a meal, you can still feel hungry soon afterwards. Although an uptick in appetite is common after a big workout or during pregnancy, it might be worth understanding why you might be feeling constant hunger throughout the day. Read about six hidden causes of hunger that might be affecting you: 

  1. Not Getting Enough Sleep. Among many other side effects, sleep deprivation disrupts the production of the appetite regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin.
  2. Dehydration. With hunger and thirst both regulated in the same part of the hypothalamus, mild dehydration can trick your brain into thinking its hungry. Try drinking a glass of water and waiting 15 to 20 minutes to see if you're still hungry. A sparkling version or club soda may provide even greater satisfaction and less hunger.
  3. Stress. When the body is under stress, the system increases production of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. With the system thinking it is under attack and in need of energy, your appetite kicks into overdrive. Manage your stress with alternative methods like meditation to prevent feeling unnecessary hunger. 
  4. Eating Too Fast. It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to signal the brain that you're full. Remind yourself to eat slowly and savor the food you are eating, allowing your brain time to register fullness.
  5. Eating Too Many Refined Carbs. Rapidly converted into blood sugar, refined carbs cause corresponding rises and falls in insulin levels, which can lead to feelings of extreme hunger for more sugary carbs. Instead of giving up all carbs, opt for minimally processed carbs such as whole grains, beans, nuts, vegetables, and fruits. 
  6. Not Getting Enough Fat Or Protein. Unsaturated fat (such as the fats in avocados, olive oil, and nuts) and protein can help you feel fuller, longer. Refer to my Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid for suggested serving amounts for healthy fats and protein.

Goodbye Trans Fats (Again)

Most foods containing high percentages of unhealthy trans fatty acids (TFAs) have already disappeared from the shelves of U.S. supermarkets, but on June 16, 2015 the FDA gave food manufacturers a three-year deadline to get rid of the rest of them. Trans fats have been linked to heart disease and diabetes, they can raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol and have more recently been found to impair memory. In tests given to men age 20 to 45 – the more TFAs in their diets, the worse their performance on the exams. Although trans fat consumption has declined dramatically over the past decade or so, they’re still present in about 37 percent of the food on the market including crackers, cookies, cakes, frozen pies and other baked goods, microwave popcorn and other snack foods, coffee creamers, and refrigerated dough products such as biscuits and ready-to-use frostings. The FDA has estimated that removing the remaining TFAs from foods could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease annually and would save about $140 billion over 20 years in health care and other costs. 

My take: It’s about time. In 2013 the FDA ruled that trans fats are not "generally recognized as safe" leading many manufacturers to remove them from product formulations.

In part because of their known health risks, the FDA requires that trans fats be listed on the labels of foods that contain them under the "Total Fat" heading. Trace levels of TFAs are found naturally in milk fat (created by bacterial action in the stomachs of cows), but, even in butter, the amounts are so small that they are probably not a worry. But as far as the artificially created TFAs in other foods are concerned, don’t wait for 2018. Avoid products containing trans fat now.


More Dangers of Sitting

Ladies: consider filing this news under “life isn’t fair”. New research from the American Cancer Society shows that women who spend more time sitting had a greater risk of cancer in general and three kinds of cancer in particular. The researchers reported that women who sit for six hours or more a day during their free time had a 65 percent higher risk of multiple myeloma (a cancer that forms in bone marrow), a 43 percent greater risk for ovarian cancer, a 10 percent greater risk for invasive breast cancer and a 10 percent greater risk for any type of cancer compared with women who sat for less than three hours during their free time. No such risks were seen in the men in the investigation, except those who were obese. The researchers analyzed data from 77,462 women and 69,260 men participating in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. The women were followed for an average of 15.8 years and the men for 13.2 years.

My take: A number of studies already have shown that too much sitting isn’t good for your long-term health. It has been linked to deposits of fat around the heart (pericardial fat) associated with cardiovascular disease, whether or not it was related to weight gain and regardless of whether or not study participants exercised. Sitting for more than seven hours a day has been linked to type 2 diabetes in women, even those who reported exercising for 30 minutes a day. This risk wasn’t seen in men or in women who sat for less than seven hours a day. Given the fact that so many people today have desk-bound jobs, it can be challenging to avoid prolonged sitting. But the more we learn about the health risks posed by sitting for hours at a time, the more important it becomes to find ways to move as much as possible.


The Path to More Weight Loss

If you’ve been on track to lose weight by following the national recommendations to exercise 150 minutes a week, new research from Canada suggests that you can boost your results by doubling your exercise time to 300 minutes a week. This simple strategy worked for a group of postmenopausal women in a yearlong study. The investigators enrolled 384 women whose BMI ranged from 22 (a healthy weight) to 40 (obese) and divided them into two groups. Half the women were asked to exercise the recommended 150 minutes a week. The other half committed to five hours (300 minutes) of exercise per week. All the women were non-smokers, had no other medical diagnosis, and were not on hormone replacement therapy. None of them changed their diets, but all were asked to exercise intensely enough to raise their heart rate for at least half their exercise session to 65 to 75 percent of their heart rate reserve – the difference between resting heart rate and maximum heart rate – by performing aerobic activity. Most of the women worked out on an elliptical trainer, walked, biked or ran. The participants who exercised for 5 hours a week lost significantly more weight, lost more belly fat, dropped their BMI and pared their waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio to a greater degree than did the women who exercised for only 2.5 hours a week. The exercise effects were most pronounced for the obese women, the researchers reported. And since body fat is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, they noted that the weight loss can help lower the risk. In addition, by paying attention to diet, you could likely lose even more weight with the extra exercise. 


Healthy Chocolate Pudding Recipe 

Looking for a quick and easy dessert to whip up?

The Dr. Weil staff loves this True Food Kitchen Chocolate Pudding recipe because it is not only delicious, but also vegan friendly and gluten-free!

Packed with potent antioxidants from dark chocolate and cocoa, this dessert makes a great addition to a barbecue and is a healthy treat that kids will also enjoy. Try this recipe and let us know how you like it!


Morning Light and Your Weight

If you want to slim down, you might try getting up earlier in the morning. A small study from Northwestern University in Chicago suggests that the timing of your daily exposure to moderate levels of light may influence body mass index (BMI) and body fat. The researchers found that people who received more exposure to moderate or high intensity light in the morning had a lower body mass index and a lower percentage of body fat than those who got most of their exposure to light later in the day. Only 23 adults, most of them women, mean age 26, participated in the study. All were healthy. They each wore a wrist monitor for seven days to determine the patterns of their exposure to light. Study co-author Ivy N. Cheung said that the results emphasize the importance of getting most of your exposure to moderate or higher intensity light early in the day, and that the new findings lend support to earlier evidence that changes in environmental light exposure may affect body weight regulation.


Lack of Sleep Affects How Others See You

You know how lack of sleep can make you feel and may agree that you don’t always look your best when you don’t get enough shut-eye. Now a study from Stockholm University has found that lack of sleep also affects how others view you and may even put you at a disadvantage when you’re looking for a job. Researcher Tina Sundelin, Ph.D. reported that sleep deprived people are often perceived as less energetic, less healthy, and less attractive than others, and that some individuals are less willing to spend time with a person who looks tired. She also found that looking tired presents a risk of being unsuccessful finding a job. Dr. Sundelin conducted four different studies in which she showed photographs of people who had obtained varying amounts of sleep to others who assessed them for attractiveness, health, reliability, leadership, employability, and how much they wanted to spend time with the person in the photo. When someone in the photos looked tired, they were viewed more negatively and rated lower than when the same individual looked alert. The study concluded that, especially given how others may view you, getting adequate sleep is more important than postponing bedtime to do work, watch TV or spend time online.



Dr. Weil's Favorite Foods: Asian Mushrooms

Beneath their humble exteriors, mushrooms are packed with healthy benefits. Many edible species contain polysaccharides - powerful anticancer compounds - which appear to boost both the activity and number of the body's natural-killer cells.

The fungi listed below are readily available in grocery or Asian specialty stores, and are good sources of polysaccharides. They are all delicious as well, so you can begin adding these mushrooms to your diet as ingredients in favorite recipes, or as a separate dish. In addition, if you've been diagnosed with cancer or are at high risk for it, Dr. Weil recommends supplementing with extracts from one or more of these medicinal mushrooms. Combining several species may be even more helpful.  

  1. Enoki (Flammulina veluptipes). Japanese farmers who grow (and regularly eat) this mushroom have unusually low rates of cancer, perhaps because enoki contains a compound called flammulin that has significant anti-tumor properties.
  2. Maitake (Grifola frondosa). According to Japanese research, this mushroom shows strong anti-cancer activity; it may also help fight viruses, boost immunity, and lower blood pressure and blood sugar.
  3. Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum). This mushroom appears to inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors and boost immune function. Perhaps that's why the Chinese and Japanese consider it a longevity food.
  4. Royal sun agaricus (Agaricus blazei).  Oncologists in both Japan and Brazil use this mushroom in treatment protocols. It may have significant anti-tumor action. 
  5. Shiitake (Lentinula edodes). Growing in popularity, this mushroom is now found in many supermarkets. That's good news, since it appears to have the ability to fight cancerous tumors.
  6. Zhu ling (Polyporus umbellatus). This mushroom may be particularly useful in the fight against lung cancer: There's evidence that it helps stimulate the body's immune response against lung tumors. It may also help counteract the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
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