SOC SCI H1E Lecture 9: Eating, Sleep and Exercise (05/04/2017)

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Social Science
Weatheralland O' Connor

LECTURE 9 Thursday, May 4, 2017 Eating (continued) Nutritionism • This refers to a focus on individual nutrients at the expense of understanding the relevant context, or whole package, of good eating • Food science focuses on individual nutrients in this way o Look at how that ingredient influences health in a limited context and broad contextual picture of how that ingredient influences health • And the idea is that this is a bad thing for public health, that nutritionist thinking leads to products like “Special K Nourish” or protein bars or whatever things with supplements that sound healthy but in fact are not • Does this mean that science is bad when it comes to food? o That science doesn’t tell us the truth about food? o No! It’s that food science is simply not sophisticated enough to deal with the massively complex system that is nutrition o So we can’t use it to guide nutrition very effectively The Pollan Plan • Pollan’s idea is to instead provide a very simple list of guidelines that normal people can follow, that for various reasons get you the right outcome o Don’t involve deep scientific understanding of nutrition, but still get the right come. You don’t need to know the why; just do the do o (e.g.) You don’t have to know how a chick works to make one, and you don’t have to understand nutrition to eat well The Guidelines (1) Eat food a. Eat real food b. Rules: i. Ask would great-great grandma recognize it as food? ii. Buy it at the farmer’s market, or on the outside of the grocery store iii. Fewer than 5 ingredients, and nothing you don’t recognize (2) Mostly plants a. Rules: i. Eat lots of plants, especially leaves 1. Nutritionally dense ii. Eat organic/from healthy soils/wild 1. As in the case of factory farming, if it was grown in chemically- involved unnatural soil, certain micronutrients won’t be in there iii. Eat traditional foods and traditional diets 1. Interesting suggestion – skip doing all the mental work about what to eat because it’s already been done for you. 2. Traditional is thousands of years of work that went into food and eating. 3. All you have to do is follow these traditional rules. You don’t even have to understand them. iv. Drink a glass of wine (3) Not too much a. Rules: i. Eat meals, like at a table, slowly, with people ii. Pay more, eat less 1. Or get a lot of good experience, with less food, more time iii. Cook and plant a garden We can see how these rules take advantage of natural processes – our evolved bodies, and culturally evolved rules for eating – to generate good outcomes without us having to understand how it works. Video: How to Eat Ramen (“Tampopo”) Sleep and Exercise Good Sleep, Exercise, Healthy Diet, Mood/Happiness, Cognitive Functioning, Physical Health • Last class, we looked at Maslow’s theory of motivation and said that we’d start with some of the physiological needs, looking in particular at the best ways to meet these needs to function well and be happy • As we look through this material on how to best meet our basic needs for happiness, we’ll see that there is a sort of interconnected web of causal influence between these factors like diet, exercise, sleep, mood, health, and cognitive functioning • Each contributes to the other, an interconnected picture of all these basic needs o In the last lecture and readings, we saw the connections between a healthy, nutritious diet and mood, health, and cognitive functioning o We also saw that nutrient deficiencies could lead to problems with sleep and energy levels o And we can also add a few more arrows here, because we’ve been assuming (correctly) that cognitive functioning and body functioning are part of wellbeing, that part of what we want for happiness is our body to work well Physicality and Mood • Let’s start by talking about the connection between body and mood • The take away? o Your mood/happiness/well-being is inextricably linked to what your body is doing. Smiling is just a pet example… Exercise and Well Being • Obviously, exercise makes you healthier, again this is something you’ve learned your whole lives: o (1) Weight control o (2) Heart disease o (3) Cancer o (4) Diabetes o (5) Osteoporosis o (6) Arthritis, sexual dysfunction, etc. Telomeres • Telomeres are the sections of DNA at the end of your chromosomes that buffer your genes during replication Telomere shortening • As your DNA replicates, little bits on the end get chewed off Telomerase • Telomerase can replace telomeres, but at some point stops doing it perfectly • Furthermore, certain types of cell stress will change how much telomeres shorten during replication Telomeres and Exercise • Exercise slows telomere shortening, and in some cases has been shown to lengthen telomeres! • This is especially true when combined with good diet and social support Exercise and Cognitive Function • Further studies indicate that exercise significantly improves cognitive function: o Improved memory o Improved learning o Improved reasoning, planning, problem solving o Increased BDNF ▪ This is a hormone that decreases inflammation and improves synaptic signaling o There is also evidence that exercise impacts diet in a positive way Exercise and Sleep • Exercise has a positive benefit on sleep quality, even on insomniacs o (1) Reduced time falling asleep o (2) Improved
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