Diet and Brain Health

The Quarantine-15 and Your Brain

If you are like most people, this season of quarantine has brought significant lifestyle changes. Working and schooling at home allow for snack-time at all hours of the day (or night!), the gym is closed for that early-morning workout, and economic stresses translate to cheaper and typically less-healthy grocery options. Thus the “Quarantine-15”… gradual weight-gain, muscle-loss, and the general couch-potato-ness so many of us are experiencing.

In my house, we’ve also experienced an interesting phenomenon that I affectionately call “The Quarantine Holiday Endless Party.” My older kids came home from college, my school-age kids were home all day, work-time at the office disappeared, and suddenly life felt like an everlasting holiday celebration, complete with family games, movies, and a constant onslaught of party food. Whew.

As a die-hard gym rat, I’ve been deprived of my thrice-weekly fitness classes. With the constant house-party going on here, I’ve imbibed in far too much queso dip, canned soup, and homemade brownies (all loaded with sodium, sugar, and chemicals). My 10-year old son put it well: “you look kinda fluffy, Mommy.”

Research just published in The Lancet reports that obesity is associated with greater prevalence of severe and fatal COVID-19 symptoms in younger population. As a youngster of 50, I’ve not felt too worried about the Coronavirus…but what if my increased fluffiness is putting me at greater risk?

According to WebMD I’m not alone. From data recorded in a reader’s poll, WebMD reported that a whopping 81% of people have gained 4-20 pounds during quarantine, with 73% of people claiming a lack exercise. While this may not be tried-and-true scientific evidence, it certainly offers a glimpse at a widespread problem correlated with the COVID-19 quarantine.

Even more compelling, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition just published research that revealed disturbing evidence of concentration-related cognitive decline following just one high-saturated-fat meal. The randomized, double-blind, crossover trial included 51 women who demonstrated attention problems and elevated endotoxemia markers following a high-saturated-fat meal versus an oleic-sunflower-oil meal. When the participant conditions were reversed, results were maintained. In other words – just one junky, fatty meal was shown to impair cognitive function of concentration and attention!

Well, I’m convinced. As for me and my house, we shall be eating more fresh veggies, leaving the canned goods in the pantry, and accidentally-on-purpose losing that brownie recipe. Time to choose health and wellness for this quarantine season, and lose the fluff!

By Terissa Michele Miller, MS Psy

Check out the original research:

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