Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.
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28 Health Central Diet Food for thought Have you ever felt like you gain weight just by looking at food? A new study in the journal Obesity suggests that in severely obese women, the brain's reward centers continue to respond to food cues, such as pictures of food, even when they are not eating. Researchers compared 15 women with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35 with 15 lean women, defined as having a BMI under 25. Both groups of women had MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) done before and after a meal. Before eating, both showed increased brain activity, especially in the midbrain, one of the body's reward centers. After eating, the brain activity dropped significantly in the lean women, but only slightly in the obese group, even though they reported they were full. "Before or after the meal, they're just as excited about eating," said Dr. Nancy Puzziferri, assistant professor of surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and senior author of the study. Researchers hope the study results can help address why it's more difficult for some people to maintain a healthy weight than others. S DASH diet does double duty The traditional DASH eating plan to help lower blood pressure may also reduce the risk of developing chronic kidney disease, according to a study published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases . To decrease blood pressure, many health experts recommend following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) plan: lots of legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables along with low-fat or fat-free dairy and nuts, and lower amounts of red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages and sodium. For the new study, researchers looked at food consumption data for more than 15,000 adults collected for 20-plus years. Participants were scored on how closely they adhered to a DASH- style diet, and over time they were also examined for kidney disease. The study suggested that those who ate few of the DASH-recommended foods were 16 percent more likely to develop kidney disease than those with the highest DASH scores—just one more reason to make healthier eating a priority. S Vitamin D and estrogen Women who use contraceptives that contain estrogen tend to have higher vitamin D levels than other women, even when additional factors are accounted for, reports the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism . The estrogen may boost vitamin D levels, according to researchers who analyzed the blood of more than 1,600 African American women between ages 23 and 34, and those levels may drop when women stop using birth control to become pregnant. They recommend women work to ensure their vitamin D intake is adequate during pregnancy, when they need the vitamin to support fetal development and their own good health. Your body produces vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Fatty fish and egg yolks along with milk, breakfast cereal and orange juice fortified with vitamin D are all good food sources. S Plan ahead for fewer calories When you're hungry and ready to eat right away at a restaurant, you're apt to choose more caloric foods. But if you place your order at least an hour in advance, you're more likely to opt for a lower-calorie meal. That's the conclusion of research recently published in the Journal of Marketing Research . Experts in health incentives and behavioral economics conducted three studies on lunch orders involving more than 800 people. People who ordered meals for immediate consumption chose foods with higher calorie counts, sometimes by more than 100 calories, compared with those who ordered in ahead of time. S SHUTTERSTOCK