Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

9 Foods That Make You Feel Fuller

My last post, 9 Foods That Make You Hungrier, referred to an article listing snacks to avoid if you are trying to lose weight.  The following two articles point out what we should be snacking on instead and when.  Click on the titles to read the original story and watch the accompanying videos.

1) 9 Healthy Snacks That Prevent Overeating

Aug. 11, 2016 | Time Magazine

If you can’t wait for your next meal, these foods are adept at muffling your hunger

Some experts say the whole concept of “healthy snacking” is an oxymoron. The human body, they argue, wasn’t built to accommodate the average American’s habit of cramming in snacks between meals. “Even three meals [a day] might be too much,” says Dr. Valter Longo, director of the University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute.

Others agree. Bouts of fasting, or giving your gut extended breaks from food digestion, may fire up all sorts of disease-limiting, life-extending cellular processes, says Luigi Fontana, a professor of nutritional science at Washington University in St. Louis and Italy’s University of Brescia.

So if you think stocking healthy foods means you can raid the fridge or cabinet any time and engage in some guilt-free noshing, Longo and Fontana would argue otherwise.

But if you just can’t make it until your next meal, there are some science-backed appetite appeasers that, even in small doses, should tide you over.


A pile of research suggests fermented foods support your gut’s microbiotic health. In particular, a type of bacteria called Lactobacillus—often used to make the fermented cabbage dish sauerkraut—can help quiet your appetite and may also improve your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. Just be sure the sauerkraut you pick up isn’t loaded with sugar.


In both healthy adults and those suffering from metabolic diseases like diabetes, eating pistachios helps knock down hunger while supporting healthy post-meal insulin responses. One 2015 study found people who added pistachios to their diets for 10 weeks had healthier levels of blood fatty acids. The authors of that 2015 credit a pistachio’s monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids for the nut’s health perks.


Crack open the hummus and grab some falafel! Adding chickpeas and other legumes to a meal or snack can help you feel up to 31 percent fuller, research shows. (How do they measure this stuff?) Gut health and bowel function also improve among regular chickpea eaters, found a recent study from Australia.


It isn’t the sexiest snack food. But spinach and other leafy greens are packed with plant membranes called “thylakoids” that increase fullness and cut your cravings for sweet treats, according to a 2015 study from Swedish researchers. Just don’t boil your spinach; you’ll knock out three-quarters of its nutrient content.


Loaded with digestion-slowing fiber and satisfying protein, beans are one of the first foods dieticians mention when asked about ultra-filling foods that can help curb your hunger. Even among those not trying to lose weight, adding beans to their diets resulted in lost pounds, found a 2016 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


There’s far, far too much talk these days about foods that can “rev your metabolism.” But there’s some strong data to suggest certain compounds in ginger—much like the capsaicin found in spicy peppers—can increase your body’s metabolic rate while simultaneously reducing your appetite. Try grating some fresh ginger onto your spinach or beans.


A hardboiled egg might be the most filling snack on the planet. Eggs are a complete source of protein amino acids. They also quiet down the gut hormone ghrelin, which triggers hunger and cravings. Yes, it’s okay to eat egg yolks again, experts now say.


Believe it or not, popcorn is an antioxidant rich, stomach-filling whole grain. Even though a small bowl of it is mostly air, the sight of it helps fool your brain into believing you’ve had a big snack, which helps quell your appetite. Just prepare your own air-popped kernels on the stove; the pre-bagged microwave varieties tend to come coated with all kinds of unhealthy chemicals, experts warn.


It’s probably not the first thing you’d reach for when hunger comes calling. But drinking brewed coffee can lower your gut’s levels of the appetite-fueling hormone ghrelin, according to a recent study from German and Austrian researchers. More research has linked coffee to lower body weights and longer lives.

2) You Asked: Why Am I Always Hungry?

Aug. 3, 2016 | Time Magazine

Your habits, surroundings and diet choices could all be driving your insatiable appetite.

Too little sleep and too much stress can make you hungry. Watching TV can make you hungry. Your hormones and mood and even the wrong-sized fork can make you hungry.

“Hunger is not as simple as needing food to meet physical needs,” says Aner Tal, a research associate at Cornell University’s Food & Brand Lab. “There are many different psychological and biological and environmental factors that affect hunger.”

Not least of which are your eating habits, Tal says. “If you’re used to eating lunch every day at 2 o’clock, you’ll feel the need to eat at 2 o’clock even if you don’t have a biological requirement for food at that time,” he says. Eat all the time, and your body will slowly learn to expect food—and crave it—all day every day.

But what causes you to eat all the time in the first place? Your food choices play a big part in that, says Dr. Belinda Lennerz, an endocrinologist and researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

“The fundamental role of hunger is to drive us to seek and consume food in order to keep the amount of available energy in our blood stable,” says Lennerz, who has conducted research into the dietary drivers of hunger and cravings. “This occurs more effectively when we consume a meal higher in fat, protein and fiber, which are digested slowly.”

While these foods help our bodies achieve and maintain a satisfyingly balanced state for hours between meals, others foods trigger metabolic shifts that send us back to the kitchen or snack room much sooner after we’ve eaten, Lennerz says. You can probably guess what foods she’s talking about: highly processed carbs.

Dr. David Ludwig—Lennerz’s colleague and co-researcher at Harvard and Boston Children’s and author of the recent book Always Hungry?—calls out many of the most popular processed carbs by name: white bread, white rice, potato products, sugar-sweetened beverages, prepared breakfast cereals, cookies and chips. “These foods confuse your body’s natural hunger-control systems, which usually work really well when you’re eating slowly digesting foods,” he says.

Unlike healthy fat- and fiber-rich foods—the Greek yogurts and leafy green vegetables and legumes that calmly stroll through your digestive system—processed carbs move through your gut like it’s a Slip’N Slide.

These snack foods, sweets, sugary drinks and other processed goodies make up 61% of average American shopping cart. And your body’s reaction to these quick-digesting foods is to release large amounts of insulin into your bloodstream in order to normalize your surging blood sugar levels, Lennerz explains.

Like a cattle rancher, insulin herds sugar and the other calories from your meal into storage, which usually means your fat cells, Ludwig says. This not only promotes weight gain, but it also tricks your body into believing you need more energy to satisfy your body’s needs, which in turn causes your hunger to rebound rapidly. If you also happen to be on a low-fat diet high in processed foods, all of this is intensified, Ludwig says.

It’s not easy to avoid, of course. “In today’s food environment, food is readily available without a delay at any given time,” Lennerz says. She adds that merely smelling or seeing food can fire up your brain and body’s “feed me” processes. That means watching TV shows about cooking, seeing snacks on your kitchen counter or walking by a break room where cookies or chips are on offer can all stoke hunger pangs that would have remained dormant if you hadn’t been exposed to those temptations.

Add to this the growing body of research that shows many of these highly processed foods—particularly sugar—can fire up our brains’ reward systems in ways similar to cigarettes, drugs and other addictive substances, and it’s no wonder many of us spend our days with a case of the munchies.

So what can you do about it? For starters, ditch those highly processed foods in favor of the healthy, fatty, fiber and protein-rich foods Lennerz and Ludwig mentioned above. Research suggests mindfulness meditation, a brisk walk, exercise and keeping food out of sight can also help knock down your incessant cravings.

September 16, 2016 - Posted by | diet, health, nutrition |

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