NZ Woman's Weekly

Health Watch: In sickness and health / Food cravings

Health Watch: In sickness and health / Food cravings
• It’s long been thought that chewing gum can help with weight loss, because it gives you something sweet to taste that won’t pile on the kilos. But new research suggests it can actually lead to weight gain. A US study has found that people who chew gum tend to eat more high-calorie sweet foods. One theory is that the chemical responsible for the minty flavour of gum makes savoury food, especially vegetables, taste unpleasant, so gum-chewers eat sweet food instead.
• Genes may be the reason why some people can’t stop smoking, rather than a lack of willpower. Nearly 1000 New Zealanders were studied over almost 40 years to identify
who was at greater risk of becoming a lifelong heavy smoker. The research showed that those with particular gene variants were more easily hooked as teenagers and found it harder to quit.

• It’s long been thought that chewing gum can help with weight loss, because it gives you something sweet to taste that won’t pile on the kilos. But new research suggests it can actually lead to weight gain. A US study has found that people who chew gum tend to eat more high-calorie sweet foods. One theory is that the chemical responsible for the minty flavour of gum makes savoury food, especially vegetables, taste unpleasant, so gum-chewers eat sweet food instead.

• Genes may be the reason why some people can’t stop smoking, rather than a lack of willpower. Nearly 1000 New Zealanders were studied over almost 40 years to identify who was at greater risk of becoming a lifelong heavy smoker. The research showed that those with particular gene variants were more easily hooked as teenagers and found it harder to quit.

INSTEAD OF ROWING
DO: Mow and rake the lawn (325 calories an hour).
Rowing is ideal cardiovascular exercise, toning the back, buttocks, legs and arms.
But it turns out that tidying the garden can provide similar benefits. Use a “push” or manual mower for maximum strengthening and calorie burn. Raking and sweeping leaves also provides a solid workout to the pectorals and shoulder muscles.

INSTEAD OF YOGA
DO: Wash the car (330 calories in 55 minutes).
While a regular Hatha yoga class has been shown to improve strength and flexibility, a US study recently found that it didn’t burn many calories or boost aerobic fitness. Washing
the car will work arms and abdominal muscles, as will vacuuming and wiping the interior. Throwing buckets of water to wash off suds is good strength training.

IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH
Certain illnesses can have an effect on a spouse’s health, too. This week: Diabetes
If your partner has diabetes, the impact on your health can depend on whether it is type 1 (managed through insulin injections, as the body can’t make the hormone itself) or type 2 (often managed through dietary changes).

“Some people are very ill before their diagnosis,” says Libby Dowling of Diabetes UK. “Type 1 symptoms can appear quickly and lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, where the body doesn’t have enough insulin to break down glucose and breaks up fat instead.” However, when a couple have to make lifestyle changes for type 2 diabetes, the recommended diet – high in fibre, low in sugar and fat – plus quitting smoking, drinking less and getting more exercise will benefit their family’s health overall.

FOOD CRAVINGS
This week: cakes, pizza and croissants.
Cause: overactive thyroid

The thyroid gland, which sits at the front of the neck, regulates a host of functions in the body, including metabolism and body temperature. If it becomes overactive (known as hyperthyroidism), it releases too much thyroid hormone, leading to symptoms such as shaking, weight loss and anxiety.

Excess thyroid hormone floods into the appetite centre of the brain, says Dr Mark Vanderpump, a consultant endocrinologist. This, in turn, creates cravings for stodgy carbohydrate foods such as pizza, bread and cakes.

Once this is diagnosed, which can be done by a blood test, an overactive thyroid can be treated with hormone-lowering medication, or surgery to remove part of the thyroid gland.

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