Happy Thanksgiving Monday!!
As part of the relaxation theme we all try desperately to adopt on such a lovely and much-needed holiday weekend, I sat down and finally committed to reading the Globe & Mail newspaper page-by-page. In our technology-filled world, I must say it was really great to actually turn the pages, one-by-one and tear out great “must-reads” as they presented themselves! For the majority of Canadians, Thanksgiving weekend elicits fond memories of warm fires, reuniting with family and friends and of course, the infamous turkey dinner. Whether it is baked, broiled, barbequed or even deep-fried(!), no matter what, the “gobble,gobble” rarely disappoints, not to mention the many accompaniments that go with it! Expecting to only read about the greatness of this special weekend however, I was intrigued with and article that had a different take on the “season of gluttonous indulgence”! This notably famous feast of Thanksgiving dinner, in all its grandeur, can actually bring with it some very serious health concerns!
According to one relatively shocking article, Thanksgiving has become synonymous with absolutely overdoing it; our gratefulness has been illustrated through second and usually third servings of platefuls of delicious foods. Unfortunately, and supported by various and numerous studies, this binge-style eating has been shown to have a lasting impact on your body, mood and brain. Overeating has been found to set off a wide range of physiological effects as well including “everything from triggering the same actions in the brain as illicit drugs, to elevating cholesterol levels months after a period of gorging, to helping to explain why you are sneaking down to the kitchen hours after you have just stuffed yourself” (Dave McGinn (Globe & Mail, October 11th, 2013). Here are some of the findings:
1. Fatty, salty, sugary foods alter your brain chemistry the same way cocaine does. They trigger the brain’s production of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter. Lab rats fed a poor diet exhibited similar characteristics of animals addicted to heroin and cocaine (Nature Neuroscience, 2010)
2. According to Montreal researchers in a 2012 study, mice that were fed a diet high in fat had elevated levels of corticosterone, a stress hormone, exhibited “pro-depressive effects”.
3. Desserts rich in fructose (apple pie) can actually keep a binge going. According to a January study in JAMA comparing glucose and fructose, the latter was found to increase blood flow to the brain’s hypothalamus, signalling the person was still hungry!
4. Overeating for even brief periods was shown to have permanent effects on body composition according to a 2010 study by a group of Swedish researchers. A four-week binge by a group of normal-weight people resulted in an average weight gain of 3.3 pounds and higher LDL cholesterol levels-even a year later.
Well, here we are on Monday-we’ve consumed and enjoyed. Be forewarned for next year though: as lovely as our celebrations are, Thanksgiving goodness can be spread around in words, deeds and a long healthy walk…and just a few bites of turkey dinner!
(Dave McGinn (Globe & Mail, October 11th, 2013)