Nutrition News: Exercise and Brain Hunger, Vitamin D and Asthma, and Mediterranean Diet Tips!

A busy brain can mean a hungry body.

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Brain hunger

We often seek food after focused mental activity, like preparing for an exam or poring over spreadsheets. Researchers speculate that heavy bouts of thinking drain energy from the brain, whose capacity to store fuel is very limited.

So the brain, sensing that it may soon require more calories to keep going, apparently stimulates bodily hunger, and even though there has been little in the way of physical movement or caloric expenditure, we eat.

Exercise may subvert this mental-stress-induced craving for calories, a study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, noted in The New York Times, indicates, because it increases the amount of blood sugar and lactate in the blood and increases blood flow to the head. Worth a try.

Asthma aid

A new research review brings promising news for those living with asthma. Taking a daily oral vitamin D supplement — anything from 400 to 4,000 units a day — was determined to reduce the risk of reduce asthma attacks requiring medication by 37 percent and those requiring emergency intervention by 60 percent. However, the review of nine clinical trials, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and reported in The New York Times, did not indicate that vitamin D had an impact on daily asthma symptoms. The study’s authors suggest the reason for the effect may have something to do with vitamin D’s antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects, but say it is too soon to advise widespread use.

Mediterranean Diet Tips

Perhaps the world’s healthiest diet, the Mediterranean Diet is abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. It features fish and poultry—lean sources of protein—over red meat, which contains more saturated fat.

The Mediterranean diet is beloved for both its healthfulness (with benefits for your heart, your brain and beyond) and its deliciousness (fruits and veggies, nuts and grains, herbs and olive oil, and even wine).

“Make good food a priority” (choose quality local ingredients, simply prepared), “eat seasonally” (fruits and vegetables taste best when they are in season), “savor mealtime” (slow down, disconnect and enjoy the social experience of eating with others) and “consider how food makes you feel”.