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Diabetes and the Dopey Effects of Dopamine

Lisa Feierstein Diabetes Leave a comment   , ,

dopamine levels in your brain

Have you ever wondered if there was more as to why it can be so hard to eat well? Insulin has been linked to the pleasure centers of our brain! According to a recent study, insulin has been found to be strongly allied with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls pleasure. This can mean a myriad of things for people with diabetes, as well as those at risk.

What is Dopamine?

First, what exactly is dopamine? It is a neurotransmitter that acts as a chemical messenger in the brain. It has many vital roles in our brain and its functions include movement, memory, attention, and most commonly known pleasure and reward seeking behavior.

At New York University Langone, researchers determined that the more insulin in the in the brain, the higher the release of dopamine. Consequently, this creates the need for us to seek out high-carb or sugary foods in order to escalate insulin levels in the brain. That in turn triggers the release of dopamine. Thus, instilling a reward system in the brain.

“Our work establishes what we believe is a new role for insulin as part of the brain’s reward system and suggests that rodents, and presumably people, may choose to consume high-carb or low-fat meals that release more insulin – all to heighten dopamine release,” said Margaret Rice, senior study investigator and neuroscientists at New York University Langone.

Low Calorie Diets = Healthy Levels of Insulin in the Brain Too

Dopamine levels were found to rise between 20 and 55 percent as a group of mice and rats ate and increased their glucose quantities. Rats who were fed a low-calorie diet only needed 10 percent of the insulin needed by rats on a normal diet to elicit an elevated release of dopamine. Essentially, this means that lowering insulin intake lowers the baseline needed to stimulate a dopamine release.

The link between higher insulin levels and diabetes makes this a dangerous discovery for those with a type 2 diagnosis. Higher carb and sugary foods increase insulin levels in the brain. This may explain why many find it difficult or near impossible to follow a healthy diet. Likewise, following an unhealthy diet means that people need more insulin to trigger the dopamine response in the brain. And so, the cycle continues.

The good news is that if these findings continue to hold, diets can be adjusted in healthy ways to manage that dopamine-reward rush! I don’t know about you, but making smart food choices and conscious decisions are much easier for me when I understand the mechanisms working behind it.


Puppies Reduce a Child’s Risk for Asthma

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health 1 , ,

puppies

The benefits of having a canine companion to come home to are numerous. New research states that lowering a child’s asthma risk is yet another reason to add to that list. Having a dog has been shown to reduce a child’s risk for asthma. It can also reduce levels of stress and depression, increase one’s physical shape, and enhance social skills.

A recent Swedish asthma study included more than one million children. Those with dogs in the home within the infant’s first year of life had a 15% lower rate of asthma.

Researchers say that their findings indicate that having a dog in the house may affect their child’s microbiome. Each individual’s inner bacterial environment of the gut is influenced by the food we consume and the air we breathe. Examinations are being made into whether there is a specific strain of bacteria that lessens the likelihood of asthma that is transmitted from dog to child.

Pets like Puppies = More time Outdoors

It is also worth noting that children living in households with dogs almost certainly spend more time outdoors and exercising more frequently. Both of these factors lower a child’s probability of developing asthma.

Interestingly enough, researchers have also explored data relating to children who grew up on farms. These children were exposed to farm animals such as cows, sheep, or horses. Findings show that these farm children had a 25% lower risk for an asthma diagnosis than those who did not grow up on a farm.

While these discoveries are not enough to definitively prove that puppies prevent asthma, they absolutely suggest that it isn’t necessary to rehome family pets for fear of their children developing respiratory problems by being around dogs.

Tove Fall, a coordinator of the study and assistant professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, stated, “It might be due to a single factor or more likely, a combination of several factors related to dog ownership lifestyle or dog owner’s attitudes, such as kids’ exposure to household dirt and pet dust, time spent outdoors or being physically active.”

All I’m hearing is a scientific reason for parents to give in and give their children a puppy!


Obesity Raises the Risk of Asthma in Women

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ, Men's Health, Women's Health Leave a comment   ,
Photo by Shutterstock.

Photo by Shutterstock.

Researchers have identified obesity as a health risk for asthma, but a new study revealed that the level of risk differs for men and women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study in March that looked at the prevalence of asthma from 2011-2014 among adults based on weight. The rate of asthma in adults with obesity is 11 percent compared to 7 percent of adults in the normal weight range. In women with obesity, asthma prevalence was 15 percent–nearly twice that of normal-weight women.

The study revealed very different findings for men–there wasn’t a significant increase in asthma prevalence in obese men versus men in the normal weight range. For children, asthma prevalence is greater in boys than girls but the prevalence of the condition switches when they hit puberty. Researchers don’t know the specific reason for the difference in asthma prevalence among men and women, but it could be related to fat distribution and/or hormonal differences. More research is also needed to determine if weight loss could reduce asthma rates.


Breastfeeding Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Lisa Feierstein Children's Health, Diabetes, Women's Health Leave a comment   , , ,
Breastfeeding has many benefits for both babies and mothers.

Breastfeeding has many benefits for both babies and mothers.

The decision to breastfeed or use formula is one of those polarizing parenting subjects akin to co-sleeping or hiring a nanny versus using day care. Breastfeeding can be a real challenge for busy moms, but researchers continue to find more and more examples of how breastfeeding benefits a baby’s immune system. In addition ato delivering antibodies, breastfeeding reduces a baby’s risk of asthma. Breastfed babies also have fewer ear infections, respiratory conditions, and hospitalizations. When the topic of breastfeeding comes up, the focus is often on the impact breastfeeding has on the baby. New research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that breastfeeding can also greatly benefit the mother by reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Can Breastfeeding Reduce Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes?

The study focused on 900 women two years after they gave birth. The women in the study each had gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. Breastfeeding for over two months reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 50%. Study participants who both breastfed and used formula experienced a 30% reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Study author Erica Gunderson, a senior research scientist at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, explains how breastfeeding allows the insulin-producing cells in the body to take a break, so to speak, because they don’t have to generate as much insulin to lower blood glucose. Breastfeeding also burns glucose and fat in the bloodstream because those nutrients are used in creating milk. Breastfeeding brings the body’s metabolism back to normalcy “after the metabolic chaos of pregnancy,” says Dr. Alison Strube, assistant professor of maternal-fetal medicine with the University of North Carolina School of Medicine – Chapel Hill.

Breastfeeding – A Healthy Choice for Mom and Baby

There are a variety of reasons why some women choose not to breastfeed—busy schedules, difficulty finding a secluded space to breastfeed in public, and because babies digest formula more slowly so bottle feedings may be less frequent. Whatever a mother’s ultimate decision, this study is encouraging in that it shows that mothers who had gestational diabetes can still benefit from a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes by using a combination of breastfeeding and formula. If you’re a new or expecting mom, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of breastfeeding and using formula to make an informed decision about the best option for you and your baby.


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