"Obesity and excess weight is an expanding health problem for more than 60 percent of Americans, and a new study by Hugh Waters and Ross DeVol finds that it's a tremendous drain on the U.S. economy as well. The total cost to treat health conditions related to obesity—ranging from diabetes to Alzheimer's—plus obesity's drag on attendance and productivity at work exceeds $1.4 trillion annually. That's more than twice what the U.S. spends on national defense. The total, from 2014 data, was equivalent to 8.2 percent of U.S. GDP, and it exceeds the economies of all but three U.S. states and all but 10 countries. The report also highlights how this public health challenge can best be addressed."
Is obesity something that we should be tackling? My gut (no pun intended) says OMG OF COURSE YES, because we are looking at some very preventable disesases. Those are some cah-razy numbers. However, does the pharmaceutical industry care? I mean: obesity is Big. Money.
I feel like we knew this - have you lived with a gastric bypass or duodenal switch patient for a period of time? I'm just saying, those of us with altered bariatric intestines LIVE with "MARSH ASS." Welcome to the world of pre-biotics, probiotics, fart-smell-better products and I kid you not, LINED UNDERWEAR.
Hey, I never said I was a professional. Read the studies.
What is a methanogen? Wisegeek says --
"Methanogens are a type of microorganism that produces methane as a byproduct of metabolismin conditions of very low oxygen. They are often present in bogs, swamps, and other wetlands, where the methane they produce is known as "marsh gas." Methanogens also exist in the guts of some animals, including cows and humans, where they contribute to the methane content of flatulence. Though they were once classified as Archaebacteria, methanogens are now classified as Archaea, distinct from Bacteria.
Some types of methanogen, including those of the Methanopyrus genus, are extremophiles, organisms that thrive in conditions most living things could not survive in, such as hot springs, hydrothermal vents, hot desert soil, and deep subterranean environments. Others, such as those of the Methanocaldococcus genus, are mesophiles, meaning they thrive best in moderate temperatures. Methanobrevibacter smithii is the prominent methanogen in the human gut, where it helps digest polysaccharides, or complex sugars."
Gut bacteria may decrease weight loss from bariatric surgery March 6, 2015
The benefits of weight loss surgery, along with a treatment plan that includes exercise and dietary changes, are well documented. In addition to a significant decrease in body mass, many patients find their risk factors for heart disease are drastically lowered and blood sugar regulation is improved for those with Type 2 diabetes.
Some patients, however, do not experience the optimal weight loss from bariatric surgery. The presence of a specific methane gas-producing organism in the gastrointestinal tract may account for a decrease in optimal weight loss, according to new research by Ruchi Mathur, MD, director of the Diabetes Outpatient Treatment and Education Center at Cedars-Sinai.
"We looked at 156 obese adults who either had Roux-en-Y bypass surgery or received a gastric sleeve. Four months after surgery we gave them a breath test, which provides a way of measuring gases produced by microbes in the gut," said Mathur. "We found that those whose breath test revealed higher concentrations of both methane and hydrogen were the ones who had the lowest percentage of weight loss and lowest reduction in BMI (body mass index) when compared to others in the study."
The methane-producing microorganism methanobrevibacter smithii is the biggest maker of methane in the gut, says Mathur, and may be the culprit thwarting significant weight loss in bariatric patient. Mathur and her colleagues are conducting further studies to explore the role this organism plays in human metabolism.
While that research continues, bariatric patients may still have options to improve weight loss after surgery.
"Identifying individuals with this pattern of intestinal gas production may allow for interventions through diet. In the future there may be therapeutic drugs that can improve a patient's post-surgical course and help them achieve optimal weight loss," said Mathur.
The study, "Intestinal Methane Production is Associated with Decreased Weight Loss Following Bariatric Surgery" was done in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic. The paper is being presented by Mathur Thursday, March 5, at the 97th annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego.
Don't EVEN bring it to crazy-town with mayonnaise. But we're taking about medication today.
My line of thinking (...when making that choice in the aisle) goes to:
Is is *exactly the same?*
Does it have the same efficacy?
Is the generic brand safe and effective?
When side-by-side store branded pills versus big brands aren't all that different, same active ingredients, similar labeling, the only thing that stands out to many of us is the pricing. So why do you choose the more expensive product, if you do?
If I am being completely honest, I don't buy off-brand super inexpensive pills from big box retailers like Wal-Mart (...or a Dollar Store, shiver!) because quite frankly I am terrified at the potential of an eighty-eight cent price point and where THAT came from. It's not that I am a brand snob, but just, no. I read the packaging of every side-by-side product and if the ingredients match by percentage and you can see the source -- I do not mind paying less per pill.
I will admit for some things I have brandsnobbery (...but even so much less lately and not really. I have even downgraded to generic huge tubs of coffee. RIP Starbucks at home, entirely. Thanks to blogging not being so, uh, lucrative, don't quit your dayjobs!) But not for over the counter medications. I bought approximately three boxes of generic gas medications, gut-fail medications and the like prior-to and during my trip to Portland last week because of desperation and it worked and kept me from ROTTING ON A PLANE THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
Why does anyone buy Bayer aspirin — or Tylenol, or Advil — when, almost always, there's a bottle of cheaper generic pills, with the same active ingredient, sitting right next to the brand-name pills?
Matthew Gentzkow, an economist at the University of Chicago's Booth school, recently tried to answer this question. Along with a few colleagues, Gentzkow set out to test a hypothesis: Maybe people buy the brand-name pills because they just don't know that the generic version is basically the same thing.
"We came up with what is probably the simplest idea you've ever heard of," Gentzkow says. "Let's just look and see if people who are well-informed about these things still pay extra to buy brands."
In other words, do doctors, nurses and pharmacists pay extra for Tylenol instead of acetaminophen, or buy Advil instead of ibuprofen?
Gentzkow and his colleagues looked at a huge dataset of over 66 million shopping trips and found that, "lo and behold, nurses, doctors and pharmacists are much less likely to buy brands than average consumers," Gentzkow says. (Their findings are written up here.)
Pharmacists, for example, bought generics 90 percent of the time, compared with about 70 percent of the time for the overall population. "In a world where everyone was as well-informed as pharmacist or nurse, the market share of the brands would be much, much smaller than it is today," Gentzkow says.
I asked several people who had a bottle of Bayer or Tylenol or Advil at home why they'd bought the brand name. One guy told me he didn't want his wife to think he was cheap. A woman told me Bayer reminded her of her grandmother. Another guy, a lawyer, said he just didn't want to spend the time to figure it out, and decided it was worth the extra couple bucks to buy the brand.
In general, we often buy brands when we lack information — when, like that lawyer, we decide it's easier to spend the extra money rather than try to figure out what's what.
Jesse Shapiro, one of the co-authors of the headache paper, told me he buys Heinz ketchup rather than the generic brand. He likes Heinz. He thinks it's better than the generic, but he's not sure. "I couldn't promise that, if you blindfolded me, I could tell them apart," he says.
Yesterday at early-o-clock I went into Boston in preparation for my WADA testing. This test (like I explained before...) checks the effects of putting the halves of my brain to sleep each side at a time in preparation for eventual epilepsy surgery to remove a section of brain that is suspect for seizure trigger.
The WADA -
The test begins with an angiogram, a test that examines the flow of a dye through the blood vessels. A thin plastic tube (catheter) is introduced through an artery in the inner portion of the upper thigh. A local anesthetic is given to numb the area, and a needle is then inserted into the artery. The tube is threaded through the needle, and the needle is removed. There is some mild discomfort during the local anesthesia, but the rest of the test is painless. The tube is guided up to the carotid artery in the neck. A small amount of contrast dye is injected through the tube into the artery, and x-rays are taken to study the flow of blood in the brain. Some warmth or flashing lights may be experienced with the injection of the dye. Next, the radiologist injects the amobarbital, which quite literally puts almost half of the cerebral hemisphere to sleep for several minutes.
Immediately after the amobarbital injection, tests are given to see how well language and memory are working with half of the brain sleeping. This provides information on the functions of the cerebral hemisphere that is sleeping and the hemisphere that is awake. The same procedure is usually repeated on the opposite side after a delay to ensure that the patient’s level of alertness has returned to normal.
Soon after reaching the hospital, I got on my fancy headgear (EEG) to measure brain activity and then spent many hours WAITING for the test.
And waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
Which was fine, because then this happened, while totally awake -
Let me tell you - in everything I read prior to this procedure I was AWARE that I would be awake and functioning during the test. I knew that I would "feel" it. I knew that it was only local anesthetic.
BUT HOLY HELL.
That first part (as shown in the video...) hurt like a bitch. The only way I could describe it, because my outer skin was numbed, and I was totally non-sedated - was a spinal tap. I've had MANY of those. It was the creepiest, crawliest, burniest, leg-crampiest, GET OUT OF MY HIP WITH THAT GOD DAMNED NEEDLE YOU MOTHERFUCKER feeling, EVER.
I cringed, winced, bit my lip, at one juncture there was a tear - and I was told not to move. I have been sick with allergies and was trying NOT to cough because if that NEEDLE MOVED -- I was thinking I would knick something and bleed to death. The EEG tech came over after the procedure was over and said that I made him cringe a little, I think he had a camera over my facial expressions.I was not prepared for pain. I was prepared for discomfort. However, it passed as soon as the radiologist got through the hip area and threaded the wires past the bony area of ME. I did not feel any actual pain from the wires/tube after that, I only felt creepy/crawlies from the tiny tube later on.
Once the wire/tube was in place at the brain artery - I was dosed with medications - repeatedly - this doctor explains it very, very well... listen -- EXCEPT -
You watched it right? You understand what was *SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN? Brains go to sleeps! Listen to it if you did not. I will wait.
What do you THINK happened because I am BETH and nothing is ever simple? Neurology nurses might know.
That's the next post. I'm waiting on the doctor to call with what we do next because Beth is very special.
I don't know if I already shared THIS video, because I have watched it a few times, but I am having this test done next week June 6th with pre op on June 5th. This guy totally 'splains things in a understandable way. Snort.
The research also suggests that a popular weight-loss operation, gastric bypass, which shrinks the stomach and rearranges the intestines, seems to work in part by shifting the balance of bacteria in the digestive tract. People who have the surgery generally lose 65 percent to 75 percent of their excess weight, but scientists have not fully understood why.
Now, the researchers are saying that bacterial changes may account for 20 percent of the weight loss.
The findings mean that eventually, treatments that adjust the microbe levels, or “microbiota,” in the gut may be developed to help people lose weight without surgery, said Dr. Lee M. Kaplan, director of the obesity, metabolism and nutrition institute at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and an author of a study published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine.
Not everyone who hopes to lose weight wants or needs surgery to do it, he said. About 80 million people in the United States are obese, but only 200,000 a year have bariatric operations.
“There is a need for other therapies,” Dr. Kaplan said. “In no way is manipulating the microbiota going to mimic all the myriad effects of gastric bypass. But if this could produce 20 percent of the effects of surgery, it will still be valuable.”
In people, microbial cells outnumber human ones, and the new studies reflect a growing awareness of the crucial role played by the trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in their own ecosystem in the gut. Perturbations there can have profound and sometimes devastating effects.
One example is infection with a bacterium called C. difficile, which sometimes takes hold in people receiving antibiotics for other illnesses. The drugs can wipe out other organisms that would normally keep C. difficile in check. Severe cases can be life-threatening, and the medical profession is gradually coming to accept the somewhat startling idea that sometimes the best therapy is a fecal transplant — from a healthy person to the one who is sick, to replenish the population of “good germs.”
Dr. Kaplan said his group’s experiments were the first to try to find out if microbial changes could account for some of the weight loss after gastric bypass. Earlier studies had shown that the microbiota of an obese person changed significantly after the surgery, becoming more like that of someone who was thin. But was the change from the surgery itself, or from the weight loss that followed the operation? And did the microbial change have any effects of its own?
Because it would be difficult and time-consuming to study these questions in people, the researchers used mice, which they had fattened up with a rich diet. One group had gastric bypass operations, and two other groups had “sham” operations in which the animals’ intestines were severed and sewn back together. The point was to find out whether just being cut open, without having the bypass, would have an effect on weight or gut bacteria. One sham group was kept on the rich food, while the other was put on a weight-loss diet.
In the bypass mice, the microbial populations quickly changed, and the mice lost weight. In the sham group, the microbiota did not change much — even in those on the weight-loss diet.
Next, the researchers transferred intestinal contents from each of the groups into other mice, which lacked their own intestinal bacteria. The animals that received material from the bypass mice rapidly lost weight; stool from mice that had the sham operations had no effect.
Exactly how the altered intestinal bacteria might cause weight loss is not yet known, the researchers said. But somehow the microbes seem to rev up metabolism so that the animals burn off more energy.
A next step, Dr. Kaplan said, may be to take stool from people who have had gastric bypass and implant it into mice to see if causes them to lose weight. Then the same thing could be tried from person to person.
“In addition, we’ve identified four subsets of bacteria that seem to be most specifically enhanced by the bypass,” Dr. Kaplan said. “Another approach would be to see if any or all of those individual bacteria could mediate the effects, rather than having to transfer stool.”
A second study by a different group found that overweight people may be more likely to harbor a certain type of intestinal microbe. The microbes may contribute to weight gain by helping other organisms to digest certain nutrients, making more calories available. That study was published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The study involved 792 people who had their breath analyzed to help diagnose digestive orders. They agreed to let researchers measure the levels of hydrogen and methane; elevated levels indicate the presence of a microbe called Methanobrevibacter smithii. The people with the highest readings on the breath test were more likely to be heavier and have more body fat, and the researchers suspect that the microbes may be at least partly responsible for their obesity.
This type of organism may have been useful thousands of years ago, when people ate moreroughage and needed all the help they could get to squeeze every last calorie out of their food. But modern diets are much richer, said an author of the study, Dr. Ruchi Mathur, director of the diabetes outpatient clinic at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
“Our external environment is changing faster than our internal one,” Dr. Mathur said. Studies are under way, she said, to find out whether getting rid of this particular microbe will help people lose weight.
Obesity Action Coalition’s Your Weight Matters National Convention “Explore. Discover. Empower.” Provides Ground-breaking Education to Hundreds of Individuals Concerned with Weight and Health
Tampa, Fla. – In late October, Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) members from more than 34 states gathered in Dallas, Texas, for a ground-breaking health and weight educational convention.
The Convention provided attendees direct access to the country’s leading experts and thought-leaders in weight and health. The Convention included 18 educational sessions, led by the country’s leading experts, on diverse topics, designed to arm attendees with the most current information on excess weight, bariatric surgery, health, nutrition, exercise and more.
In addition to educational sessions, on Friday and Saturday, attendees were also given the opportunity to participate in a Lunch with the Experts session. This session allowed attendees to sit one-on-one with an expert and have an in-depth conversation about the topic of their choice. The Convention also featured a special Advocacy Training session, focused on training the OAC’s next set of advocates. A total of 68 attendees learned from experts in healthcare policy on how to advocate for access to treatment, awareness and more.
The evenings of the Convention were filled with social events to allow attendees the opportunity to connect with one another. On Friday night, the OAC hosted a Halloween-themed costume party in conjunction with its OAC State of the Association address. On Saturday evening, the OAC hosted the 1st OAC Annual Awards Dinner honoring six members for their outstanding service in areas such as
advocacy, weight bias and membership recruitment. The Convention wrapped on Sunday morning with the Dallas Walk from Obesity. The Dallas Walk raised more than $24,000 to increase awareness, prevention, education and advocacy in obesity and offered more than 250 walkers a host of activities from face-painting to a silent auction.
“The OAC wanted to create a warm and welcoming environment where attendees felt comfortable to be themselves, learn from experts and unite with each other. This was definitely accomplished and so much more, and we are excited to welcome so many to the OAC family through our Convention,” said Joe Nadglowski, OAC President and CEO.
The Convention’s success was due in large part to the OAC National Board of Directors and Convention Planning Committee for their dedication to excellence. In addition, the Convention would not have been possible without the generous support of its National Sponsors: Gold – Eisai, and Vivus, Inc.; and Bronze –Bariatric Advantage, Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Geisinger, and Methodist Weight Management Institute. The OAC is also grateful for the support of the 19 exhibitors who participated in the Convention.
The OAC has already begun planning the 2013 Your Weight Matters National Convention and a formal announcement will take place in December. For more information on the Your Weight Matters National Convention, please visit www.YWMConvention.com.
The OAC is a National nonprofit charity dedicated to helping individuals affected by obesity. The OAC was formed to bring together individuals struggling with weight issues and provide educational resources and advocacy tools.
OAC, OACConvention, obesity action coalition, Obesity Action Coalition’s Your Weight Matters National Convention “Explore. Discover. Empower.” Provides Ground-breaking Education to Hundreds of Individuals Concerned with Weight and Health
Cleveland Clinic announced its list of Top 10 Medical Innovations that will have a major impact on improving patient care within the next year. The list of breakthrough devices and therapies was selected by a panel of Cleveland Clinic physicians and scientists and announced today during Cleveland Clinic’s 2012 Medical Innovation Summit.
1. Bariatric Surgery for Control of Diabetes Exercise and diet alone are not effective for treating severe obesity or Type 2 diabetes. Once a person reaches 100 pounds or more above his or her ideal weight, losing the weight and keeping it off for many years almost never happens.
While the medications we have for diabetes are good, about half of the people who take them are not able to control their disease. This can often lead to heart attack, blindness, stroke, and kidney failure.
Surgery for obesity, often called bariatric surgery, shrinks the stomach into a small pouch and rearranges the digestive tract so that food enters the small intestine at a later point than usual.
Over the years, many doctors performing weight-loss operations found that the surgical procedure would rid patients of Type 2 diabetes, oftentimes before the patient left the hospital.
Many diabetes experts now believe that weight-loss surgery should be offered much earlier as a reasonable treatment option for patients with poorly controlled diabetes —and not as a last resort.
National Epilepsy Awareness Month is NOW! I am Beth -- and I have epilepsy. GASP! You mean -- it's not ALL ABOUT THE WEIGHT LOSS?!
Whee. It's super fun. Oo Did you know? I bet you might have?
Did you know that I deal with daily auras, seizures every few days (including one in Starbucks in Plano, TX the other day...) and the stigma of not knowing when, where or how I might seize? Did you know that even with my diagnosis -- some of my peers make fun of me and say that I "fake it" for attention? Because They Do. (Thanks for THAT, By The Way. It Feels Really Good In My Heart.)
Anyway. For those who might give a damn, there's this. Give a damn. It matters. Brains do matter. Brain matter, matters. Or something. I'm tired. LOL.
As part of our mission to help overcome the challenges created by epilepsy, we're pleased to announce our Now I Know video campaign.
When it comes to epilepsy, what do you know now that you wish you knew sooner?
We're inviting people with epilepsy, their friends, family and caregivers to log on to Facebook, starting November 1st, and share through a video what they've learned, and what resources have helped them.
Visitors to our Facebook page will have the opportunity to vote for their favorites and share the videos through their social networks. At the end of the contest, the videos with the most votes in each of four regions, will win iPads, among other prizes.
Select videos may also be featured here on our website and at our National Walk for Epilepsy in Washington, DC. We hope to pool the collective knowledge of the epilepsy community into an easy-to-use resource and to serve as a jump-start point for talking about the disorder with our communities.
A weight loss surgery procedure that you can keep a secret? I wrote about this procedure when I heard about it years ago - POSE or Primary Obesity Surgery Endolumenal. It's a stomach-altering process that is done endoscopically, or through the mouth and down the esophagus. It can be done on an outpatient basis and that means you can go home the same day, and potentially never tell a soul! Ssh. It's a secret.
Laparoendoscopic single-site (LESS) surgery is not a new concept and its recent resurgence is a consequence of natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery research. Potential benefits of less pain, faster recovery, and improved cosmesis have been difficult to demonstrate conclusively. In bariatric procedures, the single incision approach maximizes the use of larger incisions needed to extract a specimen or implant a device. The bariatric patient is particularly sensitive to the body image benefit LESS can offer because the decreased scarring facilitates the ability to maintain bariatric surgery as a discreet affair. This chapter discusses patient selection, contraindications, instrumentation, techniques, and strategies to overcome the challenges posed by single-incision surgery.
However, be fully informed, it's not a studied procedure, and is not approved for use as a weight loss surgery -
No long-term studies have been done in the U.S. to test the safety and effectiveness of the procedure. The device that is used for the surgery has been approved for other uses by the FDA, but does not yet have the sign off for weight loss surgery.
Other members of the bariatric community won’t touch it without further study. Dr. Shawn Garber of New York Bariatric Group warned, “You are putting needles through the patient’s stomach, you are putting a device down through the esophagus, there are risks. And to put someone through the risk of those things without any proven benefit is definitely controversial.”
In answer to colleagues, Lavin has this to say, “When I came into surgery in the early ’90s, everything was done open. Then people started doing things laparoscopically and it was a little questionable at first and they didn’t know how is this going to go, and of course it changed everything.”
"For most people, unless you alter your diet and get daily exercise, no supplement is going to have a big impact," Manore said.
Manore looked at supplements that fell into four categories: products such as chitosan that block absorption of fat or carbohydrates, stimulants such as caffeine or ephedra that increase metabolism, products such as conjugated linoleic acid that claim to change the body composition by decreasing fat, and appetite suppressants such as soluble fibers.
She found that many products had no randomized clinical trials examining their effectiveness, and most of the research studies did not include exercise. Most of the products showed less than a two-pound weight loss benefit compared to the placebo groups.
"I don't know how you eliminate exercise from the equation," Manore said. "The data is very strong that exercise is crucial to not only losing weight and preserving muscle mass, but keeping the weight off."
Manore, professor of nutrition and exercise sciences at OSU, is on the Science Board for the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Her research is focused on the interaction of nutrition and exercise on health and performance.
"What people want is to lose weight and maintain or increase lean tissue mass," Manore said. "There is no evidence that any one supplement does this. And some have side effects ranging from the unpleasant, such as bloating and gas, to very serious issues such as strokes and heart problems."
As a dietician and researcher, Manore said the key to weight loss is to eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats, reduce calorie intake of high-fat foods, and to keep moving. Depending on the individual, increasing protein may be beneficial (especially for those trying to not lose lean tissue), but the only way to lose weight is to make a lifestyle change.
"Adding fiber, calcium, protein and drinking green tea can help," Manore said. "But none of these will have much effect unless you exercise and eat fruits and vegetables."
Manore's general guidelines for a healthy lifestyle include:
Do not leave the house in the morning without having a plan for dinner. Spontaneous eating often results in poorer food choices.
If you do eat out, start your meal with a large salad with low-calorie dressing or a broth-based soup. You will feel much fuller and are less likely to eat your entire entrée. Better yet: split your entrée with a dining companion or just order an appetizer in addition to your soup or salad.
Find ways to keep moving, especially if you have a sedentary job. Manore said she tries to put calls on speaker phone so she can walk around while talking. During long meetings, ask if you can stand or pace for periods so you don't remain seated the entire time
Put vegetables into every meal possible. Shred vegetables into your pasta sauce, add them into meat or just buy lots of bags of fruits/vegetables for on-the-go eating.
Increase your fiber. Most Americans don't get nearly enough fiber. When possible, eat "wet" sources of fiber rather than dry -- cooked oatmeal makes you feel fuller than a fiber cracker.
Make sure to eat whole fruits and vegetables instead of drinking your calories. Eat an apple rather than drink apple juice. Look at items that seem similar and eat the one that physically takes up more space. For example, eating 100 calories of grapes rather than 100 calories of raisins will make you feel fuller.
Eliminate processed foods. Manore said research increasingly shows that foods that are harder to digest (such as high fiber foods) have a greater "thermic effect" -- or the way to boost your metabolism.
The original study -
Dietary Supplements for Improving Body Composition and Reducing Body Weight: Where is the evidence?
International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2012 [link]
Social scientists have shown in many studies over the years that supportive touch can have good outcomes in a number of different realms. Consider the following examples: If a teacher touches a student on the back or arm, that student is more likely to participate in class. The more athletes high-five or hug their teammates, the better their game. A touch can make patients like their doctors more. If you touch a bus driver, he's more likely to let you on for free. If a waitress touches the arm or shoulder of a customer, she may get a larger tip.
But why does a friendly or supportive touch have such universal and positive effects? What's happening in our brains and bodies that accounts for this magic?
To understand this, we'll start on the outside -- with the skin. It's our largest organ, covering about 20 square feet, which is about the size of a twin mattress.
If somebody touches you, there's pressure pushing on your skin at the point of contact. And just under the skin are pressure receptors called "Pacinian corpuscles," says Tiffany Field, one of the world's leading touch researchers and the director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami in Florida.
"They receive pressure stimulation," Field says, "and the pressure receptors send a signal to the brain."
The Pacinian corpuscles' signals go directly to an important nerve bundle deep in the brain called the vagus nerve. The vagus sometimes is called "the wanderer" because it has branches that wander throughout the body to several internal organs, including the heart. And it's the vagus nerve that then slows the heart down and decreases blood pressure.
Field describes studies in which subjects were asked to perform something stressful, like public speaking or taking a timed math test. The subjects' partners were also part of the experiment, hugging or holding hands with the subjects when the researchers told them to.
"They found that, in fact, people who were given this stressful task, if they'd been holding hands or being hugged, they would have a lower blood pressure and lower heart rate, suggesting that they were less stressed," Field says.
Impact On Stress
Hand-holding or hugging also results in a decrease of the stress hormone cortisol, says Matt Hertenstein, an experimental psychologist at DePauw University in Indiana.
"Having this friendly touch, just somebody simply touching our arm and holding it, buffers the physiological consequences of this stressful response," Hertenstein says.
In addition to calming us down and reducing our stress response, a friendly touch also increases release of the oxytocin -- also called the "cuddle hormone" -- which affects trust behaviors.
"Oxytocin is a neuropeptide, which basically promotes feelings of devotion, trust and bonding," Hertenstein says.
Oxytocin levels go up with holding hands, hugging -- and especially with therapeutic massage. The cuddle hormone makes us feel close to one another.
"It really lays the biological foundation and structure for connecting to other people," Hertenstein says.
Just Like Chocolate
Besides engendering feelings of closeness, being touched is also pleasant. We usually want more. So what's going on in the brain that accounts for these feelings?
Hertenstein says recent studies from England pinpointed an area in the brain that becomes highly activated in response to friendly touch. It's a region called the orbital frontal cortex located just above your eyes. It's the same area that responds to sweet tastes and pleasing smells.
"A soft touch on the arm makes the orbital frontal cortex light up, just like those other rewarding stimuli," Hertenstein says. "So, touch is a very powerful rewarding stimulus -- just like your chocolate that you find in your cupboard at home."
The surging of oxytocin makes you feel more trusting and connected. And the cascade of electrical impulses slows your heart and lowers your blood pressure, making you feel less stressed and more soothed. Remarkably, this complex surge of events in the brain and body are all initiated by a simple, supportive touch. Copyright 2010 National Public Radio.
There is an obesity plague in America that costs the nation as much as $147 billion -- and an untold number of lives -- every year. Nearly two-thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese. Childhood obesity is triple what it was a generation ago.
Together, they add up to a public health crisis that feeds a $60 billion industry of products, services, diets and foods designed to help people lose weight.
CNBC correspondent Scott Wapner reports on the war on fat, with intimate profiles of Americans struggling to overcome obesity, some of whom have resorted to surgery. He takes viewers behind the scenes of a pharmaceutical company developing a cutting-edge drug that could be a medical and financial blockbuster, and goes inside a weight loss boot camp called The Biggest Loser Resort – an enterprise that is helping some lose pounds, and others make money.
The obesity crisis has placed a crushing burden on the nation's healthcare system and has even convinced some in the medical community that the current generation of American children may be the first to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. In this CNBC original documentary, you'll see the real cost of obesity, and find out who's profiting from it, too.
Nearly 10 percent of all U.S. health care dollars are spent on obesity-related expenses. In CNBC’s One Nation, Overweight, reporter Scott Wapner takes an inside look at the weight loss industry and the tiny pill, QNEXA, that’s having big results.
A Population-Based CAIDE Study Abstract: Caffeine stimulates central nervous system on a
short term. However, the long-term impact of caffeine on cognition
remains unclear. We aimed to study the association between coffee
and/or tea consumption at midlife and dementia/Alzheimer's disease (AD)
risk in late-life. Participants of the Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging and Dementia
(CAIDE) study were randomly selected from the survivors of a
population-based cohorts previously surveyed within the North Karelia
Project and the FINMONICA study in 1972, 1977, 1982 or 1987 (midlife
visit). After an average follow-up of 21 years, 1409 individuals (71%)
aged 65 to 79 completed the re-examination in 1998. A total of 61 cases
were identified as demented (48 with AD). Coffee drinkers at midlife
had lower risk of dementia and AD later in life compared with those
drinking no or only little coffee adjusted for demographic, lifestyle
and vascular factors, apolipoprotein E ε4 allele and depressive
symptoms. The lowest risk (65% decreased) was found in people who drank
3-5 cups per day. Tea drinking was relatively uncommon and was not
associated with dementia/AD. Coffee drinking at midlife is associated
with a decreased risk of dementia/AD later in life. This finding might
open possibilities for prevention of dementia/AD.
Sure, I'll take bets on the baby. It's not like I'm going to see money from it, so g'head, place yer bets.
Winna gets, uhh, my undying affection?
Though, the bet I'm more interested in - is how many pounds will *I* drop just after she's born?! I'm betting on twenty pounds. The rest, I'll claim responsibility for. As soon as I get home, get un-IV'ed and lose all the water I'll undoubtedly have in the hospital (along with any other freebies, like a blood transfusion!), I'll add a weight ticker back up. I'm thinking I'm going to be starting at about 175 lbs for my "re-diet." It Could Be Worse. Really. I was really close to pushing that before I got hugely pregnant anyway. My previous 150 lbs as goal, 130-135 lbs after plastic surgery goal. The smallest I ever saw was 147 lbs for like, a day. I hovered near 160-165 lbs for the longest time pre-two-pregnancies, so it's all very do-able. Nursing a baby steals about 500 calories per day, and I can't physically eat too too much, so it means I will still be able to eat actual FOOD as long as I'm a moo-cow for the babe, and probably will lose weight just by that. I do plan on eating better (bye bye empty calories, at least most of 'em), and charting my meals on Fitday again. I may sub some meals with protein bars or shakes, which I gave up completely during pregnancy (depending on chemicals in them, and if I'm making enough milk...)