Your Brain on Chocolate Chip Cookies

What is your preference?

Soft and gooey?
Crisp and crunchy?
Semisweet chocolate?
Milk chocolate?
Bittersweet?

Some research suggests that ingredients in chocolate chip cookies may have additive properties. Take sugar: Evidence in humans shows that sugar and sweetness can induce rewards and cravings comparable in magnitude to those induced by addictive drugs, including cocaine.

Oh Noooooooooo

Then there’s the chocolate, which, in addition to sugar, contains small amounts of a compound known as anandamide. Anandamide is also a brain chemical that targets the same cell receptors as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana that is responsible for its mood-altering effects.
(That’s not to say chocolate will produce the same “high” as marijuana, but there may be a chemical basis for the pleasure we get from eating chocolate.)
“According to Gary Wenk, director of neuroscience undergraduate programs at the Ohio State University and author of “Your Brain on Food,” high-fat, sugar-rich cookies will raise the level of anandamide in our brains independent of what’s in the cookie, because it’s our body’s response to eating such a tasty item. “The fat and sugar combine to induce our addiction as much as does the anandamide,” Wenk said. “It’s a triple play of delight.”‘

Oh Nooooooooo

Texture and flavor: Key to a cookie’s addictive characteristics

The flavor of chocolate chip cookies is “. . . a beautiful amalgam of caramelized butter and sugar,” the result of the browning of butter and caramelizing of sugar while it bakes. The combination of the toasted grain with the browned butter, caramelized sugar, vanilla and chocolate are “the beautiful rich flavors that blend together in a chocolate chip cookie.  And as the chocolate melts, it becomes more aromatic and punches up the flavor.”*

A happy indulgence

“The main thing is not to think of food as good food and bad food. It’s all good. It’s how much you eat of it,”
So whether it feels like a true “addiction” or not, indulging in a chocolate chip cookie or two should be a happy experience.

Oh Yessssssssss

*Gail Vance Civille, founder and president of Sensory Spectrum, a consulting firm that helps companies learn how sensory cues drive consumer perceptions of products.

Fire up Kindle

“The Pulling, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of

Maui and His Back Legs”

 is now published on Kindle 

Please help me support Peggy . . .  and receive a free PDF copy too!

We’re honored to have you as a reader . . . . . If you download the PDF please put a brief review (even  one sentence will do) in the COMMENTS section below or e-mail us at PeggyJudyTime@gmail.com

Or better yet. . .

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“The Pulling, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of

Maui and His Back Legs”

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The Pulling, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of Maui and His Back Legs 

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Your brain has a DELETE “button”

I always explained to the patients I worked with in the hospital there was one important thing to understand about how to maximize their brain’s potential which can lead them to be more positive, motivated, understand what it takes to learn new skills and  be in control of how they respond to life’s events:

“What fires together, wires together”*

Brain neurons that fire together wire together. What this means is that the more often you use a specific neuro-pathway in your brain, the stronger the connections along that pathway become. It is like making a path through a field:  Walk through once and there may be a suggestion of where you went; Walk the same path many times, it becomes a clear trail, and the easiest way to go.

When the same neurons fire in your brain, it means you brain will find it easy to use this path, and will get “good” at taking it. The more you practice the easier, quicker and more automatic a new skill, learning language or responding to others with compassion becomes.

Your brain also works in “reverse”, unlearning old connections.

Your Brain Has A “Delete” Button 

“Imagine your brain is a garden, except instead of growing flowers, fruits, and vegetables, you grow synaptic connections between neurons. These are the connections that neurotransmitters like dopamine, seratonin, and others travel across.”

“Glial cells” are the gardeners of your brain–they act to speed up signals between certain neurons. But other glial cells are the waste removers, pulling up weeds, killing pests, raking up dead leaves. Your brain’s pruning gardeners are called “microglial cells.” They prune your synaptic connections. The question is, how do they know which ones to prune?”

“Researchers are just starting to unravel this mystery, but what they do know is the synaptic connections that get used less get marked by a protein, C1q (as well as others). When the microglial cells detect that mark, they bond to the protein and destroy–or prune–the synapse.”

“This is how your brain makes the physical space for you to build new and stronger connections so you can learn more.”

A lot of this pruning happens when you sleep, which is one reason sleep is so important, especially when you are learning new things. This pruning leaves your brain ready to make new connections. This pruning also happens during naps. A 10- or 20-minute nap gives your microglial gardeners the time to clear away unused connections and leave space to grow new ones.

Thinking with a sleep-deprived brain is like hacking your way through an overgrown jungle with overlapping paths and no light getting through . . . slow-going, exhausting.  Thinking on a well-rested brain is like strolling through a well-groomed park . . . the paths are clear, connect at distinct junctions, you can see where you’re going.

How To Use Your Brain’s Delete Button

Be Mindful Of What You’re Mindful Of

You actually have some control over what your glial-cell brain gardeners decide to prune while you sleep – the synaptic connections you don’t use while awake get marked for recycling.  Those you focus on get “watered and oxygenated”. So be mindful of what you’re thinking about.

To take advantage of your brain’s natural gardening system, think about the things that are important to you. Your “glial-gardeners” will strengthen those connections and prune the ones that are not important.

(PA)

*Sigrid Lowell coined the phrase“What fires together, wires together”.

References:

Judah Pollack, co-author of The Chaos Imperative, and Olivia Fox Cabana, author of The Charisma Myth.

https://www.fastcompany.com/3059634/your-brain-has-a-delete-button-heres-how-to-use-it

Exciting News – Help Maui Get a Leg Up

“The Pulling, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of

Maui and His Back Legs”

 is now published on Amazon 

Please help me support Peggy . . .  and receive a free PDF copy too!

We’re honored to have you as a reader . . . . . If you download the PDF please put a brief review (even  one sentence will do) in the COMMENTS section below or e-mail us at PeggyJudyTime@gmail.com

Or better yet. . .

BUY THE BOOK

“The Pulling, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of

Maui and His Back Legs”

Here’s the link to a FREE PDF copy of Maui:

The Pulling, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of Maui and His Back Legs

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Amazon: The Pulling, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of Maui and His Back Legs

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(jw)

 

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Grandma Was Right: Sunshine Helps Kill Germs Indoors

I wait for windy weather to clean house.  I open all the doors and windows and let mother nature blow all the dirt out.  Luckily, I live in Southern California where it is breezy and sunny most of the year.  Luckily, I live in a house that has large glass sliding doors in every room (with the exception of bathrooms which I have to clean myself without mother nature’s help).

Turns out my house may be more microbe free than yours . . . .

Letting Sunshine In by Peggy

University of Oregon scientists used real dust from inside homes around Portland to test the effects of sunlight, UV light and darkness on bacteria found in the dust. Researchers “. . .  set up a study of dusty, dollhouse-size rooms to compare what happens in rooms exposed to daylight through regular glass, rooms exposed to only ultraviolet light and those kept dark.”

“After 90 days (because that’s about how long it takes most people to get around to vacuuming, they said), they sampled the dust and analyzed the types of bacteria present.”

“What they found surprised them and confirmed what your grandmother already knew: Rooms exposed to daylight have fewer germs. In fact, the study showed that the lit rooms had about half the viable bacteria (those that are able to grow), compared with dark rooms. Rooms that were exposed only to UV light had just slightly less viable bacteria than ones exposed to daylight.*

This study found 12 percent of bacteria in dark rooms were viable compared to 6.8 percent in rooms with daylight and 6.1 percent in rooms exposed to UV light only.

While it may not sound like much, “6 percent of millions of cells is still a lot of microbes,” “Until now, daylighting [illuminating a building with natural light] has been about visual comfort or broad health. But now we can say daylighting influences air quality.”

The daylit rooms in the study also had less of the types of bacteria associated with human skin, which people shed as they move around indoors, and more closely resembled outdoor bacterial communities. Some of the human-associated bacteria species that didn’t survive in the lighted rooms are known to cause respiratory disease.

 

*Research was published in the journal Microbiome.”

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/10/18/658335490/grandma-was-right-sunshine-helps-kill-germs-indoors

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This Happiness “Hack” works like a Charm

Your brain can not tell the difference between what you imagine and what is actually happening.  Use it to your happiness advantage!

Remember a time you felt happy:

  • Recall what you looked like, the sights, sounds, scents, colors and how you felt. If a time doesn’t come to mind pretend you are someone else and daydream. Your brain can’t tell the difference!

  • Find an object, picture or trinket that represents or symbolizes that time. If you don’t already have a souvenir keep your eyes open for something that helps you recall that time & place.

  • Carry your object in your pocket, put it on your desk, hang it on the wall.

Your “charm” will help you reconnect with and trigger happy feelings.

Check out other Happiness Hacks.  Eventually we’ll put them all together in a booklet for you.

Freddie’s Favorite: Pet a Pet

A Happiness Hack you already do – BREATHE