A recent report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest discloses a shocking revelation regarding movie popcorn.

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New Research on the Placebo Effect

You have probably heard about the Placebo effect. We know new drugs are measured against the placebo effect because a good percentage of people get better just by taking sugar
pills.

I think a lot of us don’t take the time to consider how crazy this is. Some pretty major health conditions are “cured” by basically the belief that the pill or injection will work.

This is obviously power of the mind stuff, but until recently scientists had never been able to actually “see” the placebo effect actually working in the brain.

Thanks to Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (f MRI) and PET scans, researchers can now see the brain work in real time.

The Placebo Research

A researcher named Jon-Kar Zubieta, a neurologist at the University of Michigan, used some amazing trickery in order to discover that the driver of placebo effect in the brain is an area called the nucleus accumbens (NAcc).

What is interesting, (and actually makes sense) is that this area of the brain is responsible for our expectancy of reward.

I won’t go into too much detail about the actual study (it involved researchers sticking subjects in the jaw with a needle to cause pain – OUCH!!!), and then giving them an intravenous pain cure.

The cure of course was just plain old saline solution (a placebo).

The PET scans revealed that the placebo caused an actual dopamine boost with highest dopamine release coming from the nucleus accumbens (NAcc).

All the subjects experienced some relief, but some more than others.

So the researchers used fMRI on the same subjects to see if there was a correlation between those who got the best placebo effect with those who potentially had the mostactive nucleus accumbens (NAcc).

Scientists are tricky! Here is how they pulled it off.

While using f MRI to monitor brain activity, they had the subjects play a game where they could receive monetary rewards. The anticipation of reward intensified the activity in the nucleus accumbens.

The cool part is that the people who had the highest activity in the NAcc during the game are the same people who had the most profound placebo effect in the pain part of the study.

The Take Home

So it seems that it pays to have an NAcc that hums if you want to get cured by a sugar pill.

I have been thinking about this study a lot and it begs this question.

Could we actually train ourselves to enhance our expectancy of reward, thus strengthening the NA? If so, this might mean we could develop some ability for self healing. Or it just might be genetic – nobody knows right now

Here is the citation for the study I just summarized.

Scott et al.: Individual Differences in Reward Responding
Explain Placebo-Induced Expectations and Effects
Publishing in Neuron 55, 325–336, July 19, 2007. DOI
10.1016/j.neuron.2007.06.028.

The research is still in its early stages and I would curious if any of you have any other real research on the subject (not new age mumbo jumbo, but real peer reviewedresearch).

If you do, just post it below.

Here are some other cool facts about the placebo effect:

  • Orange, Red and other hot colored tablets work better as stimulants.
  • Cool colored ones (blue, green, purple) work better as depressants.
  • Big pills generally work better than small pills!
  • Higher priced pills work better than lower priced pills.
  • Injections work better than tablets
  • And “branded” tablets work better than unbranded tablets!

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Why Are People Getting Bigger?

It is a fact! People are getting bigger. Not taller but bigger (sidewise). Recently I went to a mall (after I don’t know how many months). At every turn, you are bombarded with food; fattening food, delicious smelling food and promises of exotic tasting experiences to die for.

I also came to the realization that portion sizes, especially in steakhouses has become bigger.  We are fighting the bulges and portion sizes increase to make our job that more difficult. This is getting ridiculous!

The solution? You have to gain control over what goes on your plate. In the beginning, it may be difficult, but with experience, you can learn exactly how many servings you are eating. After a while, you will know exactly how big the portions should be to be in line with recommended portions.

If you can master this skill (and make it a habit) you will have a sure fire method to cut the most calories the quickest. Just by changing to a healthy fat burning diet with portion control, you can literally lose weight without doing anything else.

If you are like me, the following statement will fit you like a glove. Do you ever feel obligated to finish everything on your plate?  Were you raised with the same principle than me? Clean you plate otherwise you are wasting food and there are hundreds of thousands people dying for a morsel

The solution to lasting weight loss with fat burning diets is to exercise portion control.

•    Always use smaller plates and bowls. I use a side plate for my main meal.
•    Order an appetizer as an entree. Look for fresh salads or fruit and try to stay clear from fried foods.
•    If possible, use the lunch menu (to order) at dinnertime.
•    You do not have to eat everything! Leftovers are okay. Let them wrap half your meal before bringing it out.
•    Go for smaller sizes for instance a half-order of pasta.
•    Always be aware what you are eating. Chances are good that you will eat excessively if you are mindlessly picking at your food.
•    Another vital habit is to learn to read and understand food labels. Watch out! Serving sizes can be misleading! Did you know a can of cola is actually two servings?

As you cut down on your portions, you may feel a little hungry at first. To beat this temporary hunger without eating more try to:
•    Drink more water
•    Eat fiber-loaded foods
•    Eat low-calorie foods first
•    Eat slowly, put the fork down between bites
The main thing to success on any fat burning diet is to take your life back from obesity. We want to be healthy and full of vitality. The price therefore is to stay focus on one’s weight loss goals and incorporate small changes to ensure success.

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Will This Fat Burning Diet Change Your Life?

How many times have you heard “This diet will change your life?” You have heard that one previously, have you not? The hottest trends profess to stumble upon a mystery secret that years of research and millions of real-life experiments failed to uncover. Funnily how those “magical secrets” just do not live up to the initial high expectations.

Even if these fat burning diets accomplish you to shed unwanted pounds, they never help you to transform your life.  For a healthy lifestyle and success on any fat burning diet, you need to transform your life. If you do not transform your lifestyle, you will end up with the same unhealthy eating habits and that will lead you right back to square one. Unhealthy, obese and depressed for life.

Conventional diets are temporary solutions to what representing the whole obese world with a lifetime predicament. Did you know that 95% of dieters gain their weight back within a year? Your best choice to success with your weight loss goals is to forget about fads and gimmicks and rely instead on you own common sense.

Trying to lose weight successfully without changing to a healthy lifestyle is like patching a flat tire. To ride further you put a temporary fix on the damaged area, but it is more than likely that you will have to patch it again later. The same principle is true with weight loss. You can choose either change to a healthy lifestyle or just put a temporary fix on your health.

Remember by putting on a temporary fix you are in the habit of yo-yo dieting and that put extra strain on your heart and depletes your immune system. Yo-yo dieting also have the effect that when you lose weight and gain it back it is becoming that much harder to shed the pounds and much easier to gain more weight.

The key to a healthy lifestyle transformation to fix the weight problem finally lies in motivation, healthy habits, and confidence. You need a healthy weight loss diet with permanent results. One that makes you feel good about yourself, one where you get support from fellow dieters who know the steep path to achieve your weight loss goals.

Where you will experience freedom to make your weight loss journey as you see fit. Freedom to carve out your weight loss goals and to create the healthy lifestyle you always dreamed about. Now is the time to start your journey to reinvent yourself to a beautiful and gorgeous YOU!

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SparkPeople – Excellent Weight Loss Solutions

The weight loss and fitness industry have been booming for decades, and there is no sign of them slowing down. Books, magazines and DVDs all are equally obsessed weight loss solutions.

With various support programs such as Weight Watchers, Weigh Less, and Jenny Craig this trend has grown massively over the years. Even online, there are many sites dedicated to weight loss and exercise to help dieters in their weight loss battle.

Most weight loss sites are asking a membership fee. Therefore, for a long time those who needed personalized guidance to a healthy weight loss diet, but unable to pay the membership fees, were out in the cold.

There is however one site that threw open their doors for all to benefit in their quest to healthy weight loss solutions.  SparkPeople is a 100% free online program that offers features that rival those of expensive weight loss websites.

Their credentials speak for themselves. Named as the Best Health Website by Business Week in 2006, 2007 and 2008, SparkPeople is one of the most visited diet websites in the world.

In 2001, SparkPeople.com began as a goal-setting website. However, when the owners realized that the majority of members’ goals were related to nutrition and fitness, they switched the site’s focus.

With premium tools, added SparkPeople became a subscription site. However, in 2005, a decision was made to offer all of the tools and resources free!

How SparkPeople Works

As a new user, you are ask to declare your goals. The body mass index (BMI) is calculated. They also provide further assistance in setting safe and achievable weight loss goals to lose a certain amount of weight in a certain time. Next, the user sets his “Fast Break” goals, which consist of small changes toward a healthier lifestyle.

Create your own personalized “SparkPage” and join “SparkTeams” geared toward different interests and goals. A message board let you interact with other members and get support.

A variety of tools will help you in your quest to conquer the battle of the bulges.

Nutrition Tracker
This tool helps you to plan your meals, check the calories and the nutritional value of food. The healthy eating plans allocate a certain number of calories, carbs, fat and protein each day. As you add your food during the day, their values are subtracted, showing how much more calories you may consume.

Fitness Tracker
Use this tool to assists you to build a fitness plan especially for you. A standard plan automatically generate according to each member’s needs. However, feel free to alter it to suit your preferences.

I learned that if I must do something, which clashes with my personality, I usually do not follow it through. You need to do stuff that inspires you to do it even more.

Weigh-In
This tool helps members keep track of progress by recording weight and measurements.

Blog and articles
SparkPeople features a motivational blog and thousands of articles about weight loss and fitness.

The SparkPeople website supports itself with an online fitness store. Items available include fitness equipment, DVDs and apparel. However, unlike many programs, SparkPeople does not require members to purchase anything.

For a $40 billion industry, weight loss programs are surprisingly horrible at giving you the whole picture. In fact, hardly anyone even mentions how to overcome the most common dieting roadblock – weight loss motivation.

Sick and tired of your overweight body? Give yourself a gift – the gift of loving you enough to decide today to join a safe weight loss program and enjoy a healthy lifestyle full of vitality.

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