Lose weight without dieting: simple 10-minute game retrains brain to avoid junk food

Psychologists at the University of Exeter showed that less than ten minutes a day of ‘brain training’ using a game which takes away the ‘mental reward’ of sugary and fatty foods, reduces calorie intake.

Professor Natalia Lawrence’s Food Trainer app is free and is being launched this week on Android devices.

It is based on neuroscience research which suggests people are more inclined to choose fatty and sugary foods because they activate the brain’s reward system, stimulating the release of dopamine and endorphins, which can produce feelings of pleasure and make the person want more.

Prof Natalia Lawrence 
Prof Natalia Lawrence 

The game works by flashing up pictures of healthy and unhealthy food and the user has to react by only pressing on the healthy foods to score points. The simple act of ignoring unhealthy foods, and stimulating the reward response to healthy foods is enough to retrain the brain into craving healthier options, say scientists.

A study of 83 adults showed that people who played the game online just four  times in one week lost weight and ate an average of 220 kcal less per day – roughly equivalent to a chocolate-iced doughnut.

“It’s very exciting to see that our free and simple training can change eating habits and have a positive impact on some people’s lives,” said Dr Lawrence.

“In an age where unhealthy food is so abundant and easily available and obesity is a growing health crisis, we need to design innovative ways to support people to live more healthily.

“We are optimistic that the way this app is devised will actually encourage people to opt for healthy food such as fruit and vegetables rather than junk food.”

Studio manager Fiona Furness was one of the first to trial the game and has lost two stone in weight so far, dropping from 11 stone to nine stone.

Mrs Furness, who is in her 50s, said the “pounds just melted way.”

“The results have been remarkable,” she said.

“I used to feel really guilty about my bad snacking habits. I’d often be rushing about, and I’d grab something high calorie and unsatisfying – often a packet of crisps. I’d be hungry again really soon afterwards so it became a vicious cycle.

“These days, if I am feeling peckish I’ll go for a banana or a pack of almonds. That’s the food I’m craving. I’m now closer to nine stone than 11 – the pounds just melted away over eight or nine months without me even noticing.

“The weight loss wasn’t really my goal though – I feel younger and more energetic. Perhaps I’m particularly susceptible to this kind of brain training, but it has been transformative for me.”

Nearly two thirds of adults in Britain are overweight or obese, and the UK is forecast to be the fattest country in Europe within 10 years

Users of the app, who should ideally use it for a few minutes a day without distractions, can tailor it to reduce compulsions to unhealthy food they have most problem with, as well as alcohol, but not to reduce consumption of healthy foods including vegetables.

The scientists have launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise up to £5,000 to develop the app, this week made available for Android devices, into an app that can be used on iPhones and iPads.


15 JANUARY 2017 • 5:21PM

Uses and Health Benefits of Garlic

Benefits of Garlic

Garlic has many uses and health benefits. It has been used by people for thousands of years and was used in Ancient Egypt for both its therapeutic and health benefits and culinary purposes.

Today, garlic has a great part in almost every cuisine all over the world and it is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry and alternative medicine for treating various health conditions. But, what is garlic really good for? Here are the proven garlic benefits:

  1. Improves Cholesterol Levels

Garlic can lower LDL and total cholesterol. For people with high cholesterol, garlic supplementation seems to reduce LDL and/ or total cholesterol by around 10 to 15%.

  1. Prevents Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Oxidative damage from free radicals can contribute to the aging process. As a powerful antioxidant, garlic supports the protective mechanisms of the body against oxidative damage.

The combined effects on reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, along with the potent antioxidant properties, can help prevent common brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. Reduces High Blood Pressure

High doses of garlic supplements have been found to increase antioxidant enzymes in people, as well as considerably reduce oxidative stress in individuals with high blood pressure.

  1. Helps Detoxify Heavy Metals in The Body

The sulfur compounds in garlic have been found to protect against organ injury from heavy metal toxicity.

  1. Treats Hair Loss

Garlic can end your hair loss problems due to its high levels of allicin, a sulfur compound that was found to effectively treat many hair problems, especially hair loss. Simply rub sliced garlic cloves on the scalp, squeezing as you go for the most benefits. Alternatively, you can infuse garlic oil and massage it into the scalp.

  1. Clears Acne

It may not be a key ingredient in the drugstore acne medications, but this herb makes an incredible natural remedy to banish unsightly blemishes. Garlic is a great antioxidant that destroys bacteria, therefore, rub a sliced garlic clove on the pimple for a topical treatment.

  1. Control Your Weight

According to many nutritionists, garlic can help you control the weight – a study found that it can reduce your weight and fat stores. Try to cook with garlic regularly in order to take advantage of this amazing benefit.

  1. Prevents and Treats Colds

Due to its great antioxidant content, garlic can benefit your immune system. Try to include this herb more in your recipes in order to consume it more often. If a cold does sneak by, make yourself a cup of garlic tea: just steep minced or chopped garlic in hot water for 5-10 minutes, strain and drink. You can add a bit of ginger or honey to improve the taste.

However, according to a study published in the American Family Physician, prophylactic usage of garlic may reduce the frequency of colds in adults, but it does not have effects on the duration of symptoms.

Facts: A Brief History of Garlic – Food and Medicine

  • Garlic has been used all over the world for centuries. Many records point out that garlic was in use when the pyramids in Giza were built, about 5000 years ago.
  • According to the Journal of Nutrition, Hippocrates (circa. 460-370 BC) – the ancient Greek physician, known as “the father of Western medicine”, recommended garlic for a wide range of illnesses and conditions. Hippocrates promoted the benefits of garlic for treating fatigue, poor digestion, parasites, and respiratory problems.
  • The Olympic athletes in Ancient Greece were given garlic – probably the first example of “performance improving” agent used in sports.
  • From Ancient Egypt this herb spread to the other ancient societies of the Indus Valley (western India and Pakistan today) – and from there to China.
  • According to many professionals, England’s royal botanical center of excellence, the folks of ancient India treasured the healing properties of garlic and also believed it to be an aphrodisiac. The upper classes usually avoided this herb because they despised its strong smell, while monks, “…adolescents, widows, and those who were fasting or had taken up a vow couldn’t eat garlic due to its stimulant quality”.
  • Throughout history in the Nepal, East Asia, and the Middle East, garlic has been used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure), bronchitis, liver disorders, rheumatism, fevers, diabetes, intestinal worms, flatulence, dysentery, and TB (tuberculosis).
  • The Portuguese, Spanish, and French introduced garlic to the New World.
  • Experts found it interesting that numerous cultures in history that were never in contact with one another had similar assumptions regarding the healing benefits of garlic.


  1. Supports Psoriasis Treatment

Because of its proven anti-inflammatory properties, it can be useful in relieving psoriasis outbreaks. Just try rubbing some garlic oil on the infected area for the rash-free and smooth skin.

  1. Treats Athlete’s Food

Garlic has anti-fungal properties that can help your relieve itchy Athlete’s foot. Simply soak your feet in a bath of crushed garlic and warm water.

  1. Keep Away Mosquitoes

Experts are not sure why, but mosquitoes don’t like garlic. A research in India found that individuals who rubbed a concoction from garlic on their legs and arms were not disturbed by the annoying buggers. Simply make a solution of petroleum jelly, garlic oil, and beeswax as a natural repellant or just put some cloves of garlic nearby.

  1. Conquers Cold Sores

Placing a bit of crushed garlic directly on the cold sore is a popular cold sore natural remedy; the powerful anti-inflammatory properties of garlic can help reduce swelling and pain. According to scientists, garlic supplements can also speed up the healing process.

Related: Cold Sore (Herpes Simplex Virus): The Most Effective Natural Remedies

  1. Helps De-ice The Sidewalk

A city in Iowa use donated garlic salt in order to get rid of ice from roadways. So, next time you stumble on garlic salt in the back of the spice cabinet – remember to save it for an icy walkway.

  1. Can Help You to Catch More Fish

Fish are really attracted to the smell of garlic that you could buy bait with the scent built in. You can also get this advantage by making your own using food scraps and lots of cloves.

  1. Improves Bone Health in Women

Even though no human trials have measured the effect of garlic on bone health – rodent studies have found that it could diminish bone loss by improving estrogen in women.

A research in menopausal women showed that a daily dose of garlic extract (which is equal to 2 grams’ raw garlic) significantly reduced a marker of estrogen deficiency.

This submits that this herb may have beneficial effects on bone health in women.

Certain foods like onions and garlic have also been found to have a beneficial effect on osteoarthritis.

  1. Protects Plants

Garden insects don’t like garlic, therefore, make a natural pesticide using mineral oil, garlic, liquid soap, and water. Pour into a spray bottle and mist the plants to keep away damaging critters.

See also: Houseplants to Improve Indoor Air Quality: NASA Approved!

Garlic Nutrition Facts 

Raw garlic is usually measured for medicinal and cooking purposes by the clove. Garlic cloves are filled with numerous health-promoting components.

One clove of raw garlic contains around:

  • 4 calories
  • 1 gram fiber
  • gram carbohydrates
  • 2-gram protein
  • 9-milligram vitamin C (2% DV)
  • 1-milligram manganese (3% DV)
  • 4 micrograms selenium (1% DV)
  • 4 milligrams calcium (1% DV)

Garlic also contains allicin and alliin, which are both potent health-promoting sulfur compounds. The benefits of allicin in garlic are especially well-researched in research. Scientists are interested in the potentials for these sulfur compounds derived from this herb to treat and prevent deadly and chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular and cancer disease, among other benefits of garlic.


  1. Asthma patients shouldn’t eat garlic as it may have certain side-effects.
  2. Don’t eat more than 2 to 3 cloves of garlic daily without consulting your GP.
  3. Garlic needs to be avoided before medical operations or surgeries.



For centuries, garlic was thought to have numerous culinary and medicinal properties. We now have the science to confirm these impressive benefits of garlic.

Garlic supplementation can prevent and reduce the many common health ailments like the flu and common cold. High doses of garlic seem to improve blood pressure of people with high blood pressure (hypertension). In some cases, supplementation can be as effective as systematic medications. Garlic contains antioxidants which protect against cell damage and aging. If you want to include garlic in your diet (more than 2-3 cloves daily) – consult your GP