Bottling up your emotions can affect your immunity

We are no longer teenagers – in body if not spirit. Although this study was done on teens it applies to us SeenAgers because we were once teenagers who suppressed our emotions.  

Read on!

The coping skills teenagers develop by the time they are adolescents have the potential to impact their health later in life.  It’s not that health will be impacted in the short term but over decades could make a difference.

“That may be how small changes in metabolic or inflammatory outcomes may become associated with poorer health or a greater chance of developing a chronic disease later in life.”*.

The study** of 261 adolescents between 13 and 16 years old, explored whether the strategies adolescents used to deal with chronic stress caused by families affected various metabolic and immune processes in the body which included:

  • Cognitive reappraisal — trying to think of the stressor in a more positive way and
  • Suppression — inhibiting the expression of emotions in reaction to a stressor,

Teenagers who suppressed emotions tended to have more inflammation when their immune cells were exposed to a bacterial stimulus in the lab, even in the presence of anti-inflammatory signals.

Conversely, those who used cognitive reappraisal  had better metabolic measures, like blood pressure and waist-to-hip ratio.

Reappraising a situation during times of stress could be beneficial no matter our age.For a mild stressor, this can be as simple as reframing a bad situation by thinking about it as a challenge or an opportunity for growth:

SeenAge reframe: Being a Seenager is indeed a challenge and our expanding waist lines an opportunity for growth?

 

 

What Cirque du Soleil can tell us about the neuroscience of awe

“Fans and critics alike have been calling our shows ‘awe-inspiring’ for more than 30 years now, and yet when we asked fans as marketers, ‘How do you feel? How do we connect with you?’ they were not able to explain it,” says Cirque du Soleil’s chief marketing and experience officer Kristina Heney. “We would get the proverbial world cloud of ‘Oh, my god, wow, you have to go, amazing, life-changing,’ but we couldn’t understand that emotional bridge.”

Neuroscience defines awe as: first there is surprise, then comes a sense of wonder and a desire to understand the surprise.

Cirque du Critteres by Peggy

A group of neuroscientists, artists, and technologists at Lab of Misfits, an experimental research lab, looked at what happens in people’s brains as they watched a Cirque du Soleil show. They recruited 282 members of the audience and put EEG caps on 60 of them.

 The caps measured neurological responses during the show.

  • The moment the audience member reported experiencing awe, brain activity in their prefrontal cortexes (The part of the brain that is in charge of “executive function”, which makes plans and decisions.) decreased. They were not focusing, but were taking in what was happening. 
  • Simultaneously, activity increased in the part of the brain that is active when you are daydreaming or imagining. (The part associated with creative thinking).

The audience recruits who did not wear the caps were given several test, some before the show, some after and asked to rate the awe they felt during the show.  Those who experienced awe reported:

Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology and director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley who studies awe:

 “We’ve got a lot of findings in that vein. Humans have to fold into social collectives. It’s essential to our survival, and awe helps us with that. Empirically, we find people feeling awe are more humble, and their sense of self diminishes, their sense of network expands, they become more altruistic. They have a quieting of self-interest and a turning to people around them.”

“We define awe as having two key appraisals, which is how we ascribe meaning to what we’re perceiving,” Keltner said. “The first is a sense of vastness that makes you feel small, and then the second is when you don’t understand what’s happening.

cirque-du-soleil-lab-of-misfits-neuroscience-awe

 

Confession: I suffer from CUTE AGGRESSION

It started when I was a child with my pet parakeet.  I wanted to squeeze him.  He was so cute, and warm and soft.  I didn’t squeeze, probably because he wouldn’t let me.  The impulse to squeeze subsided because my next pet was a turtle, which was not squeezable.  But my Cute Aggression had been unleashed and the urge returned with every mammal, human or otherwise.  (Cold blooded animals and insects unleash my aggression too but it is not cute.)

“Being Cute has it’s drawbacks .. .”

Cute aggression was first described in 2015 by researchers at Yale University. Researchers wanted to know what it looked like in the brain and recorded the electrical activity in the brains of 54 young adults as they looked at images of animals and people.

The images included both grown-ups and babies. Some had been manipulated to look less appealing. Others were made extra adorable, meaning “big cheeks, big eyes, small noses — all features we associate with cuteness.

The study found that for the entire group of participants, cuter creatures were associated with greater activity in brain areas involved in emotion. But the more cute aggression a person felt, the more activity the scientists saw in the brain’s reward system.

That suggests people who think about squishing puppies appear to be driven by two powerful forces in the brain: Both emotional and reward systems in the brain are involved in this experience of cute aggression.”

The combination can be overwhelming. And scientists suspect that’s why the brain starts producing aggressive thoughts. The idea is that the appearance of these negative emotions helps people get control of the positive ones running amok.

“It could possibly be that somehow these expressions help us to just sort of get it out and come down off that baby high a little faster,” says Oriana Aragón, an assistant professor at Clemson University who was part of the Yale team that gave cute aggression its name.

Aggressive thoughts in response to adorable creatures are just one example of “dimorphous expressions of positive emotion,” Aragón says.

“So people who, you know, want to pinch the babies cheeks and growl at the baby are also people who are more likely to cry at the wedding or cry when the baby’s born or have nervous laughter,” she says.

I’m sooo relieved to know  I have dimorphous expressions of positive emotion, sounds much less aggressive.

judy

 

 

 

 

Maybe I really do need those carbs, no MAYBE about it . . .

Since breaking my ankle I’ve been trying to lose the 10 pounds I gained sitting around with my foot up and my mouth open.  Everyone keeps telling me to eat protein, fruits and vegetables – limit the carbs.  I keep telling everyone when I eliminate, (confession, I’ve never COMPLETELY eliminated, “reduced” is a better word) simple carbohydrates I get depressed.

FINALLY!  I’m vindicated!  YES! YES! YES!

“There are people we call carbohydrate cravers who need to eat a certain amount of carbohydrates to keep their moods steady,” said, Judith Wurtman, MIT researcher. “Carbohydrate cravers experience a change in their mood, usually in the late afternoon or mid-evening. And with this mood change comes a yearning to eat something sweet or starchy.”

“Thus, it’s not just a matter of will power or mind over matter; the brain is in control and sends out signals to eat carbohydrates. (YES!) . . .  if the carbohydrate craver eats protein instead, he or she will become grumpy, irritable or restless. (YES!, YES! ) Furthermore, filling up on fatty foods like bacon or cheese makes you tired, lethargic and apathetic. Eating a lot of fat, she said, will make you an emotional zombie.

“When you take away the carbohydrates, it’s like taking away water from someone hiking in the desert,” (YES! YES! YES!) Wurtman said. “If fat is the only alternative for a no- or low-carb dieter to consume to satiate the cravings, it’s like giving a beer to the parched hiker to relieve the thirst — temporary relief, but ultimately not effective.”

“Carbs are essential for effective dieting and good mood”, Wurtman says.(SHE IS SO SMART!)

This is what is happening in my brain.

“When you stop eating carbohydrates, your brain stops regulating serotonin, a chemical that elevates mood and suppresses appetite. And only carbohydrate consumption naturally stimulates production of serotonin.

“When serotonin is made and becomes active in your brain, its effect on your appetite is to make you feel full before your stomach is stuffed and stretched,” said Wurtman. “Serotonin is crucial not only to control your appetite and stop you from overeating; it’s essential to keep your moods regulated.”

“Antidepressant medications are designed to make serotonin more active in the brain and extend that activity for longer periods of time to assist in regulating moods. Carbohydrates raise serotonin levels naturally and act like a natural tranquilizer.”

Wurtman’s husband, Richard Wurtman and John Fernstrom**, “discovered that the brain makes serotonin only after a person consumes sweet or starchy carbohydrates. But the kicker is that these carbohydrates must be eaten in combination with very little or no protein, the Wurtmans’ combined research determined.”

“So a meal like pasta or a snack of graham crackers will allow the brain to make serotonin, but eating chicken and potatoes or snacking on beef jerky will actually prevent serotonin from being made. (YES! YES! YES! YES!) This can explain why people may still feel hungry even after they have eaten a 20-ounce steak. Their stomachs are full but their brains may not be making enough serotonin to shut off their appetites.”

“And what do protein dieters (especially women) miss most after the second week? Carbohydrates. Women have much less serotonin in their brains than men, so a serotonin-depleting diet will make women feel irritable.”

I love Judith and Richard Wurtman almost as much as I love carbohydrates

Judy

http://news.mit.edu/2004/carbs

*Judith Wurtman, director of the Program in Women’s Health at the MIT Clinical Research Center

**Richard Wurtman, Cecil H. Green Distinguished Professor at MIT and the director of the Clinical Research Center, along with former graduate student John Fernstrom

Frankly Freddie – Valentines Humbug

Roses are red

Violets are blue

I’m not allowed chocolate

Valentine’s day . . .  pooh

The only good thing about Valentine’s day is the candy and I never get any.  I sit alone, no valentines, no candy, no romance.  The only thing I get is dog food.

If you are sitting home alone on Valentine’s day with dog food you are not alone.

Freddie Parker Westerfield, Published Poet

___________________________________________________

Click to find out how:

Sugar Increases the “happiness” neurotransmitter serotonin.

Where does my 2 pounds of fat go every night?

Every evening and morning I weigh myself.  In the morning I am exactly 2 pounds lighter than the night before.  The only explanation I had for my weight loss was I expending energy by tossing and turning while I slept.  

Turns out I don’t toss and turn . . . I breathe. 

And turns out I’m not alone in my ignorance: 150 doctors, dietitians and personal trainers surveyed shared this surprising gap in their health literacy. “Some thought fat turns into muscle, which is impossible, and others assumed it escapes via the colon. Only three of our respondents gave the right answer, which means 98% of the health professionals in our survey could not explain how weight loss works.”
“The most common misconception by far, was that fat is converted to energy. The problem with this theory is that it violates the law of conservation of matter, which all chemical reactions obey.”
So if not energy, muscles or the loo, where does my fat go every night?

The enlightening facts about fat metabolism

“The correct answer is that fat is converted to carbon dioxide and water. You exhale the carbon dioxide and the water mixes into your circulation until it’s lost as urine or sweat.”
“If you lose 10 pounds of fat, precisely 8.4 pounds comes out through your lungs and the remaining 1.6 pounds turns into water. In other words, nearly all the weight we lose is exhaled.”

My fat is converted to carbon dioxide and water!

“This surprises just about everyone, but actually, almost everything we eat comes back out via the lungs. Every carbohydrate you digest and nearly all the fats are converted to carbon dioxide and water. The same goes for alcohol.
Protein shares the same fate, except for the small part that turns into urea and other solids, which you excrete as urine.”
“The only thing in food that makes it to your colon undigested and intact is dietary fibre (think corn). Everything else you swallow is absorbed into your bloodstream and organs and, after that, it’s not going anywhere until you’ve vaporized it.”

Kilograms in versus kilograms out

“We all learn that “energy in equals energy out” in high school. But energy is a notoriously confusing concept, even among health professionals and scientists who study obesity.”

“The good news is that you exhale 200 grams (7 ounces) of carbon dioxide while you’re fast asleep every night, so you’ve already breathed out a quarter of your daily target before you even step out of bed.”

Eat less, exhale more

If my fat turns into carbon dioxide, could breathing more make me lose weight?

“Unfortunately not. Huffing and puffing more than you need to is called hyperventilation and will only make you dizzy, or possibly faint. The only way you can consciously increase the amount of carbon dioxide your body is producing is by moving your muscles.”

“But here’s some more good news. Simply standing up and getting dressed more than doubles your metabolic rate. In other words, if you simply tried on all your outfits for 24 hours, you’d exhale more than 1,200 grams (42 ounces) of carbon dioxide.”

“More realistically, going for a walk triples your metabolic rate, and so will cooking, vacuuming and sweeping.”

Cooking!  Vacuuming!  Sweeping!  No way.

I’m going to go to bed for a week and breathe . . .

judy

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