Nutrition News: Exercise and Brain Hunger, Vitamin D and Asthma, and Mediterranean Diet Tips


Brain hunger

You know how, sometimes, after you’ve completed a big, stressful, mentally taxing assignment — a college term paper, say, or a complex work project — you suddenly feel ravenous? That may be because your brain, depleted of energy after working hard, signals you to eat more calories in order to fuel further efforts (thus explaining the much-feared Freshman 15). However, exercise may subvert this mental-stress-induced craving for calories, a study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, noted in The New York Times, indicates, because it increases the amount of blood sugar and lactate in the blood and increases blood flow to the head. Worth a try.


Asthma aid

A new research review brings promising news for those living with asthma. Taking a daily oral vitamin D supplement — anything from 400 to 4,000 units a day — was determined to reduce the risk of reduce asthma attacks requiring medication by 37 percent and those requiring emergency intervention by 60 percent. However, the review of nine clinical trials, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and reported in The New York Times, did not indicate that vitamin D had an impact on daily asthma symptoms. The study’s authors suggest the reason for the effect may have something to do with vitamin D’s antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects, but say it is too soon to advise widespread use.


Mediterranean diet tips

The Mediterranean diet is beloved for both its healthfulness (with benefits for your heart, your brain and beyond) and its deliciousness (fruits and veggies, nuts and grains, herbs and olive oil, and even wine). But dietitian and author Ellie Krieger, writing in the Washington Post, reminds us that the key to getting the most out of the Mediterranean diet is not only what we eat, but how we eat it.

She suggests we “make good food a priority” (choose quality local ingredients, simply prepared), “eat seasonally” (fruits and vegetables taste best when they are in season), “savor mealtime” (slow down, disconnect and enjoy the social experience of eating with others) and “consider how food makes you feel” (that kind of awareness can help you avoid overeating and enjoy).

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer.