Poor Sleep May Lead to Diabetes and Obesity
Getting too little sleep—or disrupted sleep—may increase the risk of diabetes and obesity. So suggests a new study of 21 men and women who spent three weeks in a sleep laboratory, getting only five-and-a-half-hours of shut-eye per 28-hour period, spread out over various times of day and night. The researchers observed a slowdown in participants' metabolism and a reduction in insulin production. Such changes can lead to weight gain and increased blood sugar, according to findings published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine. At the end of the study, the participants' resting metabolic rate, for example, was 8 percent lower than where it had started—which could translate into a 10-pound weight gain over a year. "If you're not getting enough sleep, then it's hard to find the energy to exercise," study author Orfeu Buxton, an assistant professor in the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, told Time. "And if you're not getting enough sleep, you not only eat more than you need but you tend to make poorer food choices. So in terms of obtaining optimum health, all three pillars—diet, exercise, and sleep—are important."
Is a Gluten-Free Diet Smart for Weight Loss?
Miley Cyrus is looking leaner than ever these days, fueling mass speculation of an eating disorder. On Monday, she took to Twitter to defend her slim physique: "For everyone calling me anorexic, I have a gluten and lactose allergy. It's not about weight, it's about health. Gluten is crapppp anyway!"
While Cyrus' weight loss may be due to a legitimate food allergy, scads of other celebrities and non-famous folks alike are adopting a gluten-free diet—for weight reasons, not health. "It's definitely trendy now. Everyone is talking about it," says Elisabetta Politi, nutrition director at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N.C. And the food industry is apparently cashing in on the trend, too: By 2015, sales of gluten-free foods and beverages are expected to hit $5 billion, according to Packaged Facts, a market research firm. "I see the positive side of being more aware of gluten and trying not to overdo it," says Politi, "but I don't think it's a good way to lose weight."
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, as well as many common food additives. It gives dough elasticity and baked goods their chewiness. (It's found in pizza, beer, burgers, and pancakes, for example.) Those who have celiac disease—caused by an overactive immune response to gluten in the small intestine—are encouraged to go gluten-free to avoid digestive symptoms like pain and diarrhea, and even permanent intestinal damage or malnutrition. There's no cure or medication other than a gluten-free diet. About 1 percent of the population suffers from celiac and about 10 percent have a less specific sensitivity, according to the Mayo Clinic. [Read more: Is a Gluten-Free Diet Smart for Weight Loss?]
How Being Polite Can Hurt Your Health
Politeness is great when you're meeting someone for the first time, such as your future father-in-law or your new boss. But when it comes to your health, you can be too nice. We highlight three ways that being polite can jeopardize your health and explain how to make better choices.
You overeat to make a good impression. We tend to mimic our dining companions, with women even imitating each other's eating speed, according to recent research published in PLoS One. In the study, pairs of women tended to take bites of food at about the same time instead of eating at their own pace, with copying happening more often at the beginning of meals versus the end. The study was small and didn't make conclusions about weight, but it's something to ponder. "It is common to unconsciously mimic the eating style of those we are with, particularly if it is someone we're trying to make an impression upon, like a potential client," explains Tom Kersting, a New Jersey-based psychotherapist and author of the 2007 book Losing Weight When Diets Fail. This mimicry can actually help you if your dining partner orders a healthy dish and eats slowly, says Kersting. But if you're with someone who scarfs down food like she'll never eat again, you could unconsciously overeat, too. The fix? Be more mindful. That means taking time to notice the colors, smells, flavors, and textures of your food, chewing slowly, and avoiding distractions. And don't heap lots of unhealthy food on your plate in the first place, since "portion size contributes to total calories," says Joy Dubost, a registered dietitian in Washington, D.C., and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
You avoid making firm requests. We're often polite to avoid confrontation, finds 2011 research published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, but sometimes this politeness can be disastrous, especially in high-stakes situations. For instance, if you've been letting your loved ones smoke around you, or weave in and out of traffic with no regard for your neck problems, your too-nice nature could hurt you. "When it comes to your health, never give in because you want to be polite," says Kersting, noting that you shouldn't become a preachy, critical person either. If you find it hard to think of what to say on the fly, try to plan your requests ahead of time, advises Dubost. "Come prepared with suggestions," she says, and bring along healthy foods if you're planning a get-together. [Read more: How Being Polite Can Hurt Your Health.]
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