Every week, we’re bringing you a roundup of the latest health and wellness news to hit the wire. This week, how falling asleep to the TV may be causing weight gain, why there is no single best diet for everyone, and how inflammation may be causing your lack of motivation.
Is your TV making you gain weight?
If you’ve grown accustomed to drifting off to dreamland with your TV on softly in the background, it’s time to turn the tube off. According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health, sleeping with a blue light on may be a risk factor for weight gain and obesity. The study published in JAMA Internal Medicine used data from more than 43,000 women that examined risk factors for breast cancer and other diseases.
After taking weight, height and body mass index measurements, scientists followed up five years later to see whether obesity and weight gain were connected to women who reported sleeping while exposed to artificial light at night. Women who slept with light or a TV were 17 percent more likely to have gained roughly 11 pounds or more. Scientists suspect the underlying reason was a lack of rest.
“Although poor sleep by itself was associated with obesity and weight gain, it did not explain the associations between exposure to artificial light while sleeping and weight,” says corresponding author Dale Sandler, Ph.D., chief of the Epidemiology Branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH.
Co-author Chandra Jackson, Ph.D., head of NIEHS, believes that “exposure to artificial light at night may alter hormones and other biological processes in ways that raise the risk of health conditions like obesity.”
Food: One size does not fit all
Keto, Paleo, intermittent fasting—there are so many eating styles out there, with each of them touting benefits like weight loss or better energy and focus, it’s no wonder it can be difficult to discern which one might be right for you.
A recent study from Zoe, in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital and King’s College London, reports in this article that there is no “one size fits all” food or diet program. Over a two-week period, the study followed more than 1,000 participants who were tasked with eating both preset, provided meals and their own meals. The researchers collected biometric data after these meals and found that 60 percent of our response to food is unrelated to DNA. That means how your body processes, reacts to and uses food is going to look very different from how your friend—or even parent or sibling—does.
“The biggest take-away of the study is that everyone responds differently to food, so to really find out what works best for your body, it’s important to look at the individual level,” said Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology.
Unmotivated? This could be to blame
If you’ve been feeling extra unmotivated or just plain down, a study from scientists at Emory University says inflammation may be to blame. The study’s researchers are proposing that there is a connection between low dopamine levels (the chemical behind motivation) and our inflamed immune system.
“When your body is fighting an infection or healing a wound, your brain needs a mechanism to recalibrate your motivation to do other things so you don’t use up too much of your energy,” says Michael Treadway, Ph.D., associate professor in Emory’s Department of Psychology. “We now have strong evidence suggesting that the immune system disrupts the dopamine system to help the brain perform this recalibration.”
While more research around this theory is yet to be done, this may hold importance for the future of mental health.
“If our theory is correct, then it could have a tremendous impact on treating cases of depression and other behavioral disorders that may be driven by inflammation,” says the study’s co-author Andrew Miller, M.D., a professor at Emory’s School of Medicine and the Winship Cancer Institute.
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