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09/26/2014 CNN:: Beer May Be Good For Your Brain

“You may not guess if stopping by your average neighborhood fraternity party, but an element in beer may be good for your brain. Scientists discovered that xanthohumol, a type of flavonoid found in beer, seems to help cognitive function, at least in young mice. They tested this hypothesis in a study that ran in Behavioral Brain Research this week. Xanthohumol did not have the same impact on older mice. The dose they gave the mice was quite high -- so high that if you were in this study, you'd actually have to drink 2,000 liters of beer a day to equal what the mice consumed. So scientists don't suggest you run out and buy a six-pack before work. The research does suggest that this flavonoid and others should be studied closer. The researchers believe it and others, like the ones found in red wine, blueberries and dark chocolate, may play a role in helping you form memories.”

Our thoughts: While studies such as this are certainly interesting, and there may even be a humorous quip or two worthy of a chuckle from this type of article, there is a responsibility that those in the health and wellness fields have to provide a word of caution when discussing alcohol and other drug consumption so casually. In particular, this headline is misleading and potentially dangerous because the research results, as indicated in the article, did not conclude that beer may be good for your brain. Instead, an isolated flavanoid found in beer, distributed to young mice in very high doses, “may play a role in helping you form memories.” Unfortunately, many people do just read headlines and fail to read full articles. Not to mention the implicit dangers associated with any messages that could be misconstrued as promoting excessive drinking, which can lead to all manner of health issues not the least of which is addiction. So, be cautious with your words and how you present stories. Beer and wine in moderation may be fine, but excessive amounts of any type of alcohol is undoubtedly unhealthy.


10/07/2014 CNN: Orthorexia: When healthy eating becomes an obsession

If you follow a certain style of eating, like vegan, raw or organic, it takes vigilance and dedication to stick to it. Yet mental health experts are increasingly worried about people who take healthy eating to an extreme, developing such a restrictive diet it threatens their health and even relationships. There's now a name for people dangerously addicted to all things healthy -- a sufferer of orthorexia nervosa. Characterized by disordered eating fueled by a desire for "clean" or "healthy" foods, those diagnosed with the condition are overly pre-occupied with the nutritional makeup of what they eat. They rigidly avoid any food they deem to be "unhealthy," or spend excessive amounts of time and money in search of the "most pure" foods. "It's different than going overboard because you want to be skinny," explains Thomas Dunn, associate professor of psychology at the University of Northern Colorado and co-author of a recent paper in Psychosomatics that outlines diagnostic criteria for the disorder. "Rather, it's linked to people who are trying to be as healthy as they can be."

Our thoughts: Eating healthfully is extremely important; there’s no question about it. It’s critical for weight management, disease prevention, proper organ and biological system functioning, maintaining proper blood sugar levels and giving you vital nutrients to help you feed your cells and fuel energy throughout the day. And, it is important to be informed about what comprises a healthy diet, problems associated with food allergies, food security issues, why organic foods are superior in nutrients, why avoiding GMOs is a good idea, etc. However, we still have a need to eat and function in the modern world. That’s not to say that you must compromise your own standards of healthy eating, but an obsession with a food regimen can harmfully influence your social life and relationships. As the article points out:

"’Orthorexic eating becomes almost like a religion,’ she says ‘It becomes a position instead of a preference. You can't eat out with a friend. You can't go to the party. You have to bring your own food wherever you go.’ Health-conscious eaters might prefer fresh foods, but won't fall apart if they eat a handful of tortilla chips at a party. At the other extreme, an orthorexic person might skip a cruise vacation if they don't think they'll like the food on the ship.”

Of course, feel free to bring your own food along with you if it’s important for you to eat a specific diet. Certainly bodybuilders and fitness models often cook specific meals for the week and carry their meals and snacks with them to ensure they are eating in accordance with their nutrition plans. Others who are trying to control a serious disease such as diabetes or celiac disease also often prepare their meals at home and bring them along with them, which is an excellent idea. However, it is important to note that under most circumstances, eating a bit of chicken, non-organic salad or even a slice of meatloaf at your grandmother’s house for dinner is not going to harm you. Moderation is usually okay and encouraged, but do consult with your physician if you have specific dietary restrictions that must be maintained for health purposes.


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