Life is habit forming

Life is habit forming and people develop habits as strategies to help cope with daily living. People develop habits throughout their life span. Contrary to all those weight-watchers and 12-step programs, habits are also very difficult to break.

There’s a lot of discussion about bad behaviors. Texting on the street or while driving is a dangerous behavior, if not to you than to others. Habitual behaviors aren’t even part of our consciousness. They just happen. Habit formation may be nature, nurture, or environmentally associated. A study at MIT explores how habits form and reside within the brains of laboratory rats. Can it help us understand how life is habit forming and how we can form new habits?

A study posted in Neuron explores the neuroscience aspects surrounding habit formation and problems with revising or changing habits. Although breaking habits can be hard, MIT neuroscientists have now shown that they can prevent them from taking root in the first place, in rats learning to run a maze to earn a reward. The researchers first demonstrated that activity in two distinct brain regions is necessary in order for habits to crystallize. Then, they were able to block habits from forming by interfering with activity in one of the brain regions, the infralimbic (IL) cortex, which is located in the medial prefrontal cortex.

The medial prefrontal cortex has been implicated in a variety of cognitive and executive processes such as decision making and working memory. The medial prefrontal cortex of rodents consists of several areas including the prelimbic and infralimbic cortex that are thought to be involved in different aspects of cognitive performance. Despite the distinct roles in cognitive behavior that have been attributed to prelimbic and infralimbic cortex, little is known about neuronal network functioning of these areas, and whether these networks show any interaction during fast network oscillations.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers’ ability to optogenetically block the formation of new habits in rats suggests that the IL cortex not only exerts real-time control over habits and compulsions, but is also needed for habits to form in the first place.

The study suggests a new way to look for abnormal activity that might cause disorders of repetitive behavior. Now that the researchers have identified the neural signature of a normal habit, they can look for signs of habitual behavior that is learned too quickly or becomes too rigid. Finding such a signature could allow scientists to develop new ways to treat disorders of repetitive behavior by using deep brain stimulation, which uses electronic impulses delivered by a pacemaker to suppress abnormal brain activity.

This sounds exciting but Michael Crichton’s novel The Terminal Man shows what could possibly go wrong

People become addicted to the habits they form and developing new habits, even though they may be intuitively right, seem nearly impossible. The validity of these rat studies don’t take into consideration that human prefrontal and limbic systems are far more sophisticated and employ language coded cognition factors. Humans have will power and willpower is a tool that can help use remove and change our habits.

With all those ads and articles that show how cigarettes, alcohol, and recreational drugs are habit forming, and other articles that show you how to break those habits, we must be mindful that habits form in the mind, as this research helps indicate. Life is habit forming and breaking or developing new habits throughout a lifespan may need huge amounts of self-control. If you believe in monism, where the mind and body are one, habits are crucial to living and bad habits may lead to dying.

Forming the right habits are individual-specific but habits do help maintain survival and they are carved in our brains. Every new year that passes, people make lists of resolutions and some are about breaking habits and making new ones. It appears that old habits die hard and new habits are barely born. How can we change them? What habits would you like to change?

You may be addicted to carbohydrates diet

Trying to manage your weight? You may be addicted to carbohydrates diet and don’t know it. What’s worse is that you may not be able to do something about it without a drastic change in your diet.

People are constantly trying diets. Diets often need to be imposed into a general lifestyle to work. All those ads that claim people lost 30 pounds in two months usually don’t show what happened after six months. People are addicted to carbohydrates and now there is some evidence that proves it.
One of the hard lines in pursuing a dietary lifestyle is the realization that you need to cut carbohydrates from your food intake. Carbohydrates are found in sugars, starches, and grains. Bread, cereal, fruits, and vegetables contain carbohydrates. Milk and yogurt also have naturally occurring carbohydrates.

The Atkins diet is a good way to do short dieting. It eliminates virtually all carbs but you can eat all the fat and protein you like. Barring any cardiovascular issues, the Atkins diet proposed that if carbs are omitted from the diet completely, the body uses energy from fat and protein only. Weight loss is quick and swift. The problem is how long can you keep off carbs in today’s carb oriented society?

South Beach Diet went a little deeper and isolated carbs into groups of simplex and complex. Processed foods use many simplex carbs. You’ll find it in processed foods such as breads, cakes, cereals, white rice, and pasta.

Consuming highly processed carbohydrates can cause excess hunger and stimulate brain regions involved in reward and cravings, according to a Boston Children’s Hospital research team. These findings suggest that limiting these “high-glycemic index” foods could help obese individuals avoid overeating. The study was small but cited some evidence that our body’s systems of homeostasis work in many ways to keep us addicted to simplex carbohydrate foods.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on June 26, 2013, investigates how food intake is regulated by dopamine-containing pleasure centers of the brain.

To examine the link, researchers measured blood glucose levels and hunger, while also using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to observe brain activity during the crucial four-hour period after a meal, which influences eating behavior at the next meal. Evaluating patients in this time frame is one novel aspect of this study, whereas previous studies have evaluated patients with an MRI soon after eating.

Twelve overweight or obese men consumed test meals designed as milkshakes with the same calories, taste and sweetness. The two milkshakes were essentially the same; the only difference was that one contained rapidly digesting (high-glycemic index) carbohydrates and the other slowly digesting (low-glycemic index) carbohydrates. High glycemic is indicative of simplex carbs and those rush into your body at a high rate of speed. Low glycemic are complex and absorb at much slower speeds, offering more sustained energy.

After participants consumed the high-glycemic index milkshake, they experienced an initial surge in blood sugar levels, followed by sharp crash four hours later.

This decrease in blood glucose was associated with excessive hunger and intense activation of the nucleus accumbens, a critical brain region involved in addictive behaviors.

Prior studies of food addiction have compared patient reactions to drastically different types of foods, such as high-calorie cheesecake versus boiled vegetables.

Another novel aspect of this study is how a specific dietary factor that is distinct from calories or sweetness could alter brain function and promote overeating.

These findings suggest that limiting high-glycemic index carbohydrates like white bread and potatoes could help obese individuals reduce cravings and control the urge to overeat.

Though the concept of food addiction remains provocative, the findings suggest that more interventional and observational studies be done. Additional research will hopefully inform clinicians about the subjective experience of food addiction, and how we can potentially treat these patients and regulate their weight.

The American Medical Association indicated that obesity should be treated as a disease. Studies like this one help validate that claim.

Is it nature or nurture? Most of the world has sustained themselves on carbohydrates and vegetable for thousands of years. For the most part, their lives were active. Today, we are mostly sedentary and are suffering from what we eat and our lack of movement. There may be genetic ties as to why some people are predisposed to being overweight.
With fast-foods dominating outdoor food consumption, it’s difficult to avoid high-glycemic foods. Succeeding in a weight management program may be a long, hard road that few will be able to tread.

Octane Fitness Seated Joggers for the Over 50 Crowd

Octane Fitness seated jogger models make exercise fun and effective for the over 50 crowd.

Octane Fitness is a manufacturer of very user-friendly joggers that offer a holistic workout for everyone. The Octane Fitness XR4 and XR6 seated joggers are particularly beneficial for those that use canes and walkers to get around. They are rarely found in health clubs. As the population demographic rises to include more people over 50, this type of jogger is designed to help those people to get a thorough upper and lower body cardiovascular workout, as well as improved strength in arms, legs, and torso. It’s a perfect exercise machine for those seeking a holistic approach to physical wellness with virtually no pain, when used moderately.

It’s different from a recumbent bike. The pedals are much larger (like most standing joggers) and employ elliptical motion rather than circular. There’s plenty of space for feet of all sizes and your entire foot is used to pedal. In addition, there are hand bars that offer different grips to suit your personal comfort. The seat has variable adjustments for height and tilt to accommodate people of all sizes. There is a heart-rate monitor sensor at both sides of the seat as well as an easy pushbutton control to adjust levels while exercising.

There is also a large, easy-to-read touch panel with adjustments for time, level, exercise styles (if you want to focus on arms, legs, or chest), and built-in programs. You can choose Manual to customize your exercise yourself. The display shows laps, speed, heart rate and heart rate percentage, and distance.

If you have a heart rate monitor watch with a chest strap, the Octane Fitness jogger is fully compatible and displays HR automatically on the screen. That way you don’t have to keep looking at your watch.

One of the pratfalls that confound diets and exercise routines is that the fitness lifestyle is often associated with pain and discomfort. Barring genetic diseases, people over age 50 realize that past life choices and indiscretions come to haunt them as cardio and muscular issues become more common. Standing elliptical joggers are more suited to younger, healthier people. For those over 50 who are pursuing exercise methods to cope with hypertension, atherosclerosis, and numerous muscle aches, this seated Octane Fitness jogger may be integrated in your overall wellness program. It may help facilitate improved function and movement that, when done moderately on a routine basis, may add the ability to be active as you head to older ages.

If you’re seeking quality of life extension, ask your local gym to order an XR6 seated jogger from Octane Fitness. The XR4 is a home version and, although it runs around $2500, it’s an investment that you’ll really want to use.

Oprah Winfrey endorses these Octane Fitness joggers. Not only are Octane elliptical exercisers one of Oprah’s Favorite Things 2012, Octane elliptical joggers are regarded worldwide as the No. 1 premium elliptical machine. Known for the ergonomic design that produces the smoothest, most comfortable and effective workouts, using an Octane Fitness jogger helps you stay motivated, achieve your goals faster and feel great.
Being over 50 needn’t be a path to being old. Manage your weight, your tone, and your heart rate with Octane Fitness. Set one up in your home or ask your health club to consider ordering one.

Smartphones and Tablets are the choice products for you

Smartphones and Tablets are worth serious consideration and you have choices to meet your budget and needs. You live in a smarter society or, at least, a society that helps you explore your smarts in many more ways. When you check pharmacies, tablets of all kinds are lining shelves. Electronic tablets are the current drug of choice. Witness the numbers of people attracted to choosing and using mobile smartphones and tablets.

According to a survey, Smartphone ownership has now broken the majority barrier and reached 61% of online Americans as of May 2013. Over 79% of all online Americans 18 to 34 now own a smartphone. Tablet ownership as of May 2013 is closing in on a majority of Americans who are online, 8 to 64, across the United States, with 44% of the population owning a tablet in their household – up from 30% in 2012 which is a 47% growth rate in one year. Already a majority of online Americans (54%) ages 18 to 34 own a tablet.

Of course the survey results show that Apple holds a 53% majority of the tablets and smartphones, based on survey respondents. Surveys have margins of errors and may not represent actual numbers used and are based on answers from those that chose to participate in the survey. Still, Apple’s edge is relatively small.

That’s likely due to inroads made by competing Android products such as those made by Sansung and other manufacturers.

Apple iPhones lost considerable market share by keeping the screen-size at 3.5 or 4 inches in size. Samsung, HTC, and others have screen sizes above 4.5 inches and it seems people prefer those sizes.

Among tablets, the Asus Google Nexus line remains very affordable and popular. In 2013, Google allowed smaller manufacturers easy access to the Google Play app store, xo you can get a Coby tablet for about $100.

Large smartphones with screen sizes extending from 5 inches and up offer a smartphone user a virtual tablet experience. These are called Phablets, part phone and part tablet. These combine the best of both worlds, although they may be a little too large for use as a phone. The answer is easy. Get a Bluetooth headset for wireless communicating.

Android is used in almost all the tablets that are not Apple. It’s a Google-based technology with apps available on Google-Play and from various other websites, including the Amazon app store. Windows and Blackberry have fewer available offerings.

The advantages of tablets and smartphones are easy access to internet access and apps. Apps are little software applications that you download to your device. There are a wide variety of apps offering diverse categories from games, stores, entertainment, utilities, and more. Unfortunately, you can’t run Windows PC software. Smartphones and tablets are not PC compatible. They are delightful and productive mobile devices.

Pricing among brands like Apple, Asus, Acer, Samsung and other high-level brands are generally limited to MAP (manufacturers authorized pricing) so there are few deviations from one store to another. Lesser brands may be offered with greater variability and many of these are comparable to the upper crust.

Tablets were introduced in 2010. The Apple iPad was the first available. Android tablets barely hit the market several months later. Tablets and smartphones moved like wildfire 2011 to 2013.

Tablets use Wi-Fi technologies. Smartphones use Wi-Fi and phone-based 4G technologies for use as you move from place to place, unless you downloaded apps to your device.

At pricing from low to high, smartphones and tablets offer great features. People are going to make more choices to get smartphones, tables, or Phablets. Want one? The choice is yours. Amazon offers thousands of Android tablets to choose from, at prices starting at less than $100. Get smarter. Take a dose of one of these tablets. Negative side effects are minimal. Positive side effects are life enhancing.