dry mouth

Bad mood. Bad food. Happy means healthy

Posted by on Mar 14, 2014 in dry mouth | 0 comments

Wow, I simply love the theme of this message. Study findings suggest that positive thinking can lead to healthier eating.

Consider this (which, I know to be true for me):

When you’re in a negative mood from stress, anxiety, frustration or even boredom, you may be more inclined to reach for comfort in the form of sweet and fat-rich foods. Not only do these types of food provide instant gratification but they have also been shown to trigger the release of insulin and endorphins to counteract the negativity (which of course, often returns in spades of guilt). So, researchers set out to understand the “why”underlying the association between bad moods and bad foods.

First, they looked at how a positive mood would actually influence the way that people perceived healthy foods (e.g. granola bars/candy bars, apples/cookies and rice cakes/potato chiops), with results indicating that people in positive moods tended to focus on long-term benefits like health, nutrition and future well-being. This was further supported by university students, whose moods were first manipulated for good or bad and who were then asked about their perceptions; as expected, the students who were in good moods liked the idea of healthy foods and staying healthy in their old age while those in worse moods tended to have less interest in health and more in indulging.

In a third experiment, the researchers once again manipulated moods and then presented the participants with plates of raisins and M&Ms, measured how much they consumed of each and then asked them how much they liked the snacks, how tasty and/or healthy they were and how enjoyable they were. Not only did people in bad moods eat roughly 20% more M&Ms, but there was a temporal aspect to the healthy versus indulgent behavior. Being in a bad mood tended to mean that there was a greater focus on the present (instant gratification) versus the future (weight gain) such that the ratio of M&Ms versus raisins eaten among present-focused participants.

Finally, it also appears that thinking about the future tends to lead to a greater consideration of more abstract benefits of the foods we eat (e.g. health, nutrition) and consequently, helps us make better food choices. However, even more important is that this temporal, present versus future consideration, can even modify our choices, even if we are in foul moods. And if we are in a bad mood? Well, researchers suggest trying to divert attention away from the urge to find gratification in bad foods and shift it to another activity that can brighten things a bit, activities like watching a movie or talking to a friend or listening to music.

The next time the urge hits? Pay attention to your mood, shift your focus and think about the future. Bad mood? Bad food!

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Tears dry? Dry mouth? Chapped lips? Must be the ‘pause

Posted by on Mar 9, 2012 in aging, dry mouth | 4 comments

A friend recently asked if I had run across any research papers linking chapped lips to menopause. Although I’ve not seen that direct association, I can tell you menopause is linked with dry mouth as well as burning mouth syndrome, i.e. burning in the tongue or oral mucous membranes and taste alterations.

In so far as dry mouth and burning mouth syndrome go, the tissues in the mouth and the salivary glands both contain estrogen receptors. Consequently, hormone fluctuations, like those associated with menopause, can affect the mouth, lips, tongue and even lead to periodontal disease. The rub is that although researchers are aware of this, the data are pretty scarce, although studies have shown that saliva, which by the way, is the primary defense against oral disease, is more productive in premenopausal compared to postmenopausal women. Moreover, it appears that psychological stress can also influence saliva flow, since it affects the nervous system. In some ways, it’s similar to an endless loop: oral discomfort relating to dry or burning mouth can lead to unpleasant sensations and anxiety, which then activates the autonomic nervous system and further reduces saliva.

Although there is not cure for either issue, there have been small but inconclusive studies indicating that hormone replacement may help. Dry mouth can be counterbalanced by drinking at least 1 to 1.5 liters of water or other liquid daily, or using commercial mouthwashes especially formulated for dry mouth. For burning mouth syndrome, there are commercially available gels and ointments, and some practitioners recommend rubbing olive or other vegetable oil to the oral tissues. Short of that, severe cases may benefit from antidepressants or probiotic products. For chapped lips? Personally, I am pretty hooked on the Pangea Organics line of lips products but I recommend that you use what feels best. Finally? Be sure to maintain your oral health by seeing the dentist regularly. It’s essential!



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Wednesday Bubble: is there a connection between dry mouth and osteoporosis?

Posted by on Jun 1, 2011 in bone health, dry mouth, osteoporosis | 0 comments

This week’s bubble is neither burstable or good news. But it is important:

Dry mouth and bone mineral density appear to be related.

Say what?!!!

A bit of background is needed…

Osteoporosis is fast becoming a major health problem and as I’ve written time and again on this blog, is a significant characteristic of menopause, namely as the result of waning estrogen levels that lead to an imbalance between the build up and turnover of bone cells. Parathyroid hormone and cortisol have also been linked to bone turnover.

Dry mouth (i.e. a feeling of dryness in the mouth and need to use liquids while eating) and burning mouth syndrome (i.e. burning in the tongue or oral mucus membranes and taste alterations) are also common during menopause, affecting up to 40% of women. Until now, experts have not been able to adequately determine why these symptoms occur and more importantly, effective management strategies.

The link? Recent data have shown that estrogen levels may be significantly lower and both parathyroid and cortisol levels significantly higher in menopausal women who complain of dry mouth. Moreover, as the results of a new study in Menopause show, there may be a true relationship between these two conditions and that bone loss may be the actual cause of oral dryness and related symptoms. In this study, researchers evaluated 60 women in menopause (mean age 56) for the presence and severity of dry mouth and then based on their results, divided them into two groups. Dry mouth was confirmed by responses to a scientific questionnaire and collections of saliva. The researchers also measured bone mineral density at the spine.

Importantly, the participants were not particularly active and none engaged in any sports activity, except walking. The women were also matched by body mass index, age, or years of menopause. And yet, women with low bone mineral density, including relationship to other women in the same age group and 30 years younger, were significantly more likely to experience dry mouth and had significantly less saliva when their appetites were not stimulated.

Clearly, more research is needed. However, there are some things you can do now. The first strategy to combat osteoporosis and bone loss is to get measured for bone loss and disease markers. Steps like calcium supplementation, a healthy diet and regular exercise are critical. And if you suffer from dry mouth? You may want to speak to your dentist about a referral for a bone mineral density scan or better yet, have him or her contact your gynecologist or regular health practitioner for a pow wow. Not only may you help your bones, but you may actually change that dry feeling.

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