Get fit in 10 minutes!

If you have a sweet tooth or love fatty, carb-heavy meals, you’ll know the reward of eating them is more than just in your stomach.

It sends endorphins through your brain, even just for a moment, telling you how enjoyable the experience of eating these foods is.

Now, there’s an app that can change that.

Scientific research has shown that fatty and sugary foods activate the brain’s reward system, stimulating the release of the chemical dopamine (which makes you feel pleasure).

The Food Trainer app, developed by the University of Exeter and available in New Zealand on Google Play (for Android only) store, trains your brain in 10 minutes a day to avoid unhealthy foods.

Essentially, the app is a simple game: pictures of healthy and unhealthy foods pop up on your smartphone screen, and you’re tasked to react only to the healthy images.

Professor Natalia Lawrence, a psychologist who worked on the app’s development, says this can re-train the brain to crave differently.

There is empirical evidence to suggest the app actually works, too.

University of Exeter studied 83 people playing the game for 10 minutes a day, four times a week, and each averaged to reduce their diet by 220 calories per day without any other intervention. That’s more than a Crunchie bar or a small packet of Maltesers.

The scientists are currently running a crowdfunding campaign to get the app developed for iPhone users as well.

Tumeric – Rising star or not?

A turmeric latte might be increasingly popular but the spice’s supposed health benefits may be all froth, according to a new study.

The spice, used in cooking and in Ayurvedic medicine in India for centuries, has been touted for its supposed health benefits, leading to a rise in people interested in using it as a supplement.

Google dubbed turmeric a “rising star” in a Food Trends report after searches for the spice increased by 56 per cent in a few months at the end of 2015.

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Turmeric, the study says, can show effects where there are none.

Turmeric has been associated with many health claims and heralded for supposed anti-inflammatory properties and curcumin, an active compound in the spice, has been touted for cancer treatment, diabetes, weight loss, and dermatitis.

A new study says an active compound provides false results when researchers screen for drug-like effects to fight disease.

Extensive studies of the compound have been conducted but a new review in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry says the compound is unstable, unreliable and can give false results.

In the most comprehensive study of the spice, the paper’s authors concluded there was no evidence of any therapeutic benefits, the journal Nature reports.

The article said common drug screening techniques test whether a compound, at a molecular level, binds to a disease-causing chemical.

If binding occurs, then it paves the way for further investigation.

But some compounds and chemicals provide false “hits”, mimicking binding and giving false signals. There is an entire discipline within chemistry exploring these false hits of compounds with the technical name “pan-assay interference compounds” (PAINS).

Curcumin is one such “chemical con artist”, according to the paper, The Essential Medicinal Chemistry of Curcumin.

The journal article said the “likely false activity” of the compound had led to more than 120 clinical trials targeting several diseases.

“No double-blinded, placebo controlled clinical trial of curcumin has been successful. This reviews the essential medicinal chemistry of curcumin and provides evidence that curcumin is an unstable, reactive, nonbioavailable compound and, therefore, a highly improbable lead.”

One of the chemists told Nature that curcumin had been proposed as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, baldness, and Alzheimer’s disease but it has never yielded a proven treatment.

Other researchers have said there is some evidence the compound does have a biological effect worthy of further study.

However, University of North Carolina chemical biologist Bill Zuercher said:

“It may very well be the case that curcumin or turmeric extracts do have beneficial effects, but getting to the bottom of that is complex and might be impossible.”

University of Minnesota medicinal chemist Michael Walters said the study of turmeric was a cautionary tale for science and he was not confident the review would stop muddled research.

“The people who should be reading this probably won’t,” he told Nature.

There have been some studies backing up claims of health benefits but the research, in many cases, now appears questionable.

Kickstart a diet effectively

CHANCES are you are keen to drop a little of the Christmas pud this New Year (and as quickly as possible).

While there are many diets out there, the basics never change. So here are the easiest and most effective ways to kick start your diet this January.


You will get the best weight loss results when you are able to follow a relatively strict regimen for a set period of time. This means at least 3-5 days without any extras rather than reverting to the “I have been good all day, so I deserve a treat at night trick”. The reason for this is that it takes several days of tight calorie control to induce fat loss which can be easily disrupted when little extras slip in every day.


Sorry, but if you’re trying to lose weight, carbs are not your friend.

Sorry, but if you’re trying to lose weight, carbs are not your

A recent review completed by physicians at the Mayo clinic has confirmed what many of us have known for some time — when it comes to quick weight loss, cutting your carbs is the way to go. Not forever, but to get results initially and even for a period of 3-6 months, going easy on the pasta, rice, bread and potatoes does have its merits. And even better, you do not need to cut the carbs out entirely, a serve or two of fruit, lower carb bread or legumes a couple of times a day, along with an evening meal minus the potato, rice and pasta is all you need to do for a couple of weeks for a weight loss kick start.


The more vegetables and salad we consume, the better it is for weight loss and a simple and effective dietary strategy is to simply replace one meal a day with soup, salad or vegetables. Try a large salad for lunch, or swap dinner for a soup or plain vegetables. This simple strategy will significantly reduce your calorie intake for the day while you are still consuming three meals each day.


Most of us walk around dehydrated which can be one of the reasons we feel tired, lethargic and hungry. Drinking at least two litres of still or sparking water every day is a simple way to help manage your appetite and reduce the total amount of food you are eating.


Generally speaking we eat dinner much later than is ideal and for this reason, the later you have your evening meal, the lighter it should be. So if you are eating after 7pm or 8pm each night think omelets, soups, white fish and vegetables and salad.


Eating lighter meals at night is the way to go.Source:ThinkStock

The more calories you consume during the first 12 hours of the day the better it is for the hormones that control fat metabolism. This means breakfast by 8am, lunch by 1pm and dinner by 7pm to help allow 10-12 hours without food overnight.


A handful of nuts is a good snack during the day.

A handful of nuts is a good snack during the day.Source:Supplied

Hunger is a sign your body is burning food efficiently and when we are in control of our calorie intake we should feel hungry every 3-4 hours. At times when you are trying to lose weight, ignoring extreme hunger may result in you consuming too few calories to efficiently burn body fat. For this reason if you genuinely feel hungry in between your meals, add in a small protein rich snack such as a handful of nuts, a slice of cheese or some Greek yoghurt to help the calorie burn.


When we team a low calorie diet with a lot of high intensity exercise the result can be a large calorie deficit between how much we are burning and how many calories we are eating. Too much of a deficit can slow down weight loss which is why plenty of movement when you are not eating a lot can trump exercise. This means lots of steps, at least 10000-12000 every single day.


You don’t have to deprive yourself of a celebratory glass of champagne with friends.Source:istock

Diets fail because they are not sustainable; we do not like what we are eating and we miss the foods we love. Simply factoring in regular portion controlled treats at least every second day is an easy way to help support dietary compliance. Good options include a small bite size chocolate, a small coffee, a glass of wine or a restaurant meal out once a week.


Planning is the key to dietary success — knowing what you are going to eat in advance so you are not tempted when high calorie foods cross your path. This means taking time out to order groceries online or to get to the shops; pack your lunch the night before and know what you are having for dinner before someone suggests take away. This way you remain in control of your food decisions rather than becoming a victim of your food environment.