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The Reality of Food Addiction: Recharged | The Paleo Diet

In one of my post popular articles, I dove deep into the mire of just why so many of us are addicted to food. This subject is fascinating on both a molecular and individual level.1, 2, 3, 4  There are so many factors which go into food addiction.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 And most of them go totally unnoticed, to most people.14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 The pervasiveness of advertising, the purposely addictive nature of processed foods, and the stressful nature of modern life is just too much for most of us to stay healthy.23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 Of course, new research has emerged on this topic, since an entire calendar year has passed since I wrote my first piece on food addiction – and some of it is quite startling.33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40,

The Reality of Food Addiction: Recharged | The Paleo Diet

Volkow, Nora D et al. “Overlapping Neuronal Circuits in Addiction and Obesity: Evidence of Systems Pathology.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 363.1507 (2008): 3191–3200. PMC. Web. 7 Aug. 2015.

But perhaps most troublingly, many scientists are still trying to fight the notion that food addiction even exists.41, 42, 43 I’m alarmed, offended and angry about this continued hemming and hawing (no doubt influenced by industry) – and you should be too. In simplest terms, go ask the average person following a Standard American Diet (SAD) if they feel addicted to food. I would bet everything I own that their answer would be a resounding “yes.”44, 45 No one wants to be obese, and unquestionably some level of addiction is underlying our obesity pandemic.46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51 52, 53, 54, 55 Certainly there are also other factors, which I’ve also written about, (like leptin resistance) that happen as a result of poor food choices compounded over time.56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64

The Reality of Food Addiction: Recharged | The Paleo Diet

Agrawal, Rahul, and Fernando Gomez-Pinilla. “‘Metabolic Syndrome’ in the Brain: Deficiency in Omega-3 Fatty Acid Exacerbates Dysfunctions in Insulin Receptor Signalling and Cognition.” The Journal of Physiology 590.Pt 10 (2012): 2485–2499. PMC. Web. 7 Aug. 2015.

The Reality of Food Addiction: Recharged | The Paleo Diet

Cai, Dongsheng, and Tiewen Liu. “Inflammatory Cause of Metabolic Syndrome via Brain Stress and NF-κB.” Aging (Albany NY) 4.2 (2012): 98–115. Print.

It is my generation who is now having to pay for all the poor choices made by prior ones, and now more than 66% of adults are overweight or obese.65 Four years ago researchers knew that “there are a number of shared neural and hormonal pathways…that may help researchers discover why certain individuals continue to overeat despite health and other consequences”.66 And yet, some scientists refuse to even acknowledge people are addicted to food! It is maddening.

The Reality of Food Addiction: Recharged | The Paleo Diet

Sturm, Roland, and Aiko Hattori. “Morbid Obesity Rates Continue to Rise Rapidly in the US.” International journal of obesity (2005) 37.6 (2013): 889–891. PMC. Web. 7 Aug. 2015.

The results of food addiction are happening here and now.67, 68 We see them every day on the way to work, at the store, in society, and even glamorized in popular media. Certainly, no one should be ‘fat shamed’ – but we shouldn’t be celebrating obesity either. Food addiction is just as sad as drug addiction – it is just destructive over a longer period of time, rather than acutely.69, 70, 71 As science shows, the same neurobiological pathways that are implicated in drug abuse also modulate food consumption.72, 73

The Reality of Food Addiction: Recharged | The Paleo Diet

Volkow, Nora D et al. “Overlapping Neuronal Circuits in Addiction and Obesity: Evidence of Systems Pathology.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 363.1507 (2008): 3191–3200. PMC. Web. 7 Aug. 2015.

The Reality of Food Addiction: Recharged | The Paleo Diet

Volkow, Nora D et al. “Overlapping Neuronal Circuits in Addiction and Obesity: Evidence of Systems Pathology.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 363.1507 (2008): 3191–3200. PMC. Web. 7 Aug. 2015.

The Reality of Food Addiction: Recharged | The Paleo Diet

Baik, Ja-Hyun. “Dopamine Signaling in Food Addiction: Role of Dopamine D2 Receptors.” BMB Reports 46.11 (2013): 519–526. PMC. Web. 7 Aug. 2015.

Or how about the scientific paper which showed that Oreo cookies were as addictive as cocaine?74 Again, you will find some scientists hemming and hawing, but the reality, the way the science translates into our everyday lives, shows clear addiction. Do you feel like you need to eat the whole bag of broccoli? Obviously not. For most, vegetables are a chore. But it sure is easy to eat a whole box of Oreos! In fact, many find it hard not to.75 Does this sound addictive to you?

Then we have the case of researchers “curing binge eating” by modulating dopamine receptors.76 Why is this notable? Because by altering the brain’s response to rewarding food, we can stop the cravings/addiction! This really hammers home the point that food can be addictive, and that it is not just an innocent bystander that some people (66% of all adults, if you’re keeping track) can’t seem to stop consuming. If you wants to know more of the deep molecular mechanisms and psychology behind eating, I have also .

The Reality of Food Addiction: Recharged | The Paleo Diet

Green, Erin, and Claire Murphy. “Altered Processing of Sweet Taste in the Brain of Diet Soda Drinkers.” Physiology & behavior 107.4 (2012): 560–567. PMC. Web. 7 Aug. 2015.

And what is one of the most addictive, and least healthy habits in the world? Soda. The less soda you drink, the great weight loss you see.77, 78, 79 Even artificial sweeteners have shown rewarding mechanisms in the brain.80, 81, 82, 83, 84 Interestingly, new research has shown that a hormone deficiency in the brain may also be causing overeating.85, 86, 87 This is in addition to new research which shows that ‘bad’ genes may also play a role in overconsumption.88, 89, 90, 91, 92

Clearly, food addiction is a real problem, which needs to be fixed as soon as possible.93, 94 The future of (a healthy) human world…sort of depends on it. A Paleo diet is one of the best ways to go cold turkey, and stop food addiction in its tracks. By eating nutrient dense foods, sleeping soundly, and managing stress, we are taking proactive steps to avoiding food addiction and obesity.95, 96 97, 98, 99, 100

 

 

REFERENCES

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[65] Available at: //www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/Pages/overweight-obesity-statistics.aspx. Accessed July 29, 2015.

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Sugar Is Killing Us

It’s no surprise a vast majority of the world recognizes sugar is destroying our health and ruining our lives.1, 2, 3, 4 Over the last 30 years, we’ve seen disease rates skyrocket, alongside our climbing intake of sugar.5, 6, 7, 8, 9 Our concern for this creeping information wavers and takes a backseat to social media, “selfies” and celebrities.10, 11

The growing concern around sugar deserves not only immediate attention, but immediate action.12, 13, 14 Unfortunately, the roadblocks are endless.15, 16 The least of which, is the food industry itself.17 Take, for example, the makers of orange juice, a product which contains a whopping 21g of sugar in a mere 8oz glass,18 and is traditionally the standard American breakfast beverage.

The addictive properties of sugar are well-documented, as are the risks of consuming too much.19, 20 And yet, we can’t seem to stop ourselves.21, 22 Sugar is often added to products surreptitiously, without our consent.23 It is also marketed – quite heavily – towards children.24, 25 We must put a stop to this. Our children are our future, and if they are obese, cognitively impaired, and sick – how much of a future do they really have?

So why sugar is so detrimental? The biochemistry says it all.20 As sugar enters the bloodstream, insulin is secreted.26 The more sugar you eat, the more insulin you secrete. High sugar diets can lead to insulin resistance.27 This condition is one of the hallmarks of obesity and overweight humans everywhere.28 If you consume too much sugar, you’re bound to experience hypoglycemia, commonly referred to as your “sugar crash.”29 This leaves your body craving more sugar – and the addictive process perpetuates.30

Sagittal, Coronal and Axial Representations of Glucose-related Regional Grey (A) and White (B) Matter Volumes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073697.g002

It’s a simple model, but one which we are all familiar with.36 Stress also leads us to overeat.31, 37 And we do not over-consume just any calories, but rather we eat neurologically-rewarding foods.38 This means foods that are either: high in sugar, or foods high in sugar and fat.39 In a study from 2010, researchers showed a disruption of sensitivity to brain-stimulation reward (BSR) from eating high fat and/or high carbohydrate food.40 So you become accustomed to the rewards of these foods, and crave them more.41

The rates of diabetes both nationally, and worldwide, have skyrocketed.42 This is not debatable. Guess what else has skyrocketed, in conjunction with diabetes rates? You guessed it: sugar consumption. There are now obese newborns.43, 44

All of these problems and conditions can be linked directly to sugar intake, and yet, you may be blindsided by how much sugar you’re consuming in the first place. A recent study showed food manufacturers not disclosing the actual values of fructose corn syrup on their product labels.45 Does this bother you? It should.

Besides the physiologic effects of too much sugar, there are vast and damning economic effects.32 Take, for example, that diabetes alone costs the United States $245 billion per year.46 This is a rise of 41% in a mere five years. That is an absolutely terrifying figure. Have I scared you yet?

How about the fact that higher glucose levels are associated with lower memory and reduced hippocampal microstructure?47 Or, how about the study from the New England Journal of Medicine, which showed that higher glucose levels may be a risk factor for dementia.48 What was interesting (and alarming) about this finding, was that this was the risk for those without diabetes. This means that you can be taking in “normal” amounts of sugar, not exhibit symptoms of diabetes, and still be risking dementia. Act and don’t turn a blind eye. Save your health.

N Engl J Med. Aug 8, 2013; 369(6): 540–548.

Other studies have shown, unsurprisingly, that sugar consumption promotes weight gain in children and adults.33 All behaviors have a biochemical basis. ADHD, ADD, et al, are all likely partially due to a poor diet.49, 50 A diet that, almost always, is high in sugar.51, 52 Since studies have shown that intense sweetness surpasses cocaine reward, it is not surprising that many Americans cannot stop consuming sugar.53 But, in order to help stop alarmingly rising healthcare costs, they must stop their gluttonous consumption, and re-focus their diet on whole, real foods, all part of a Paleo Diet.

Other studies have shown that most US adults consume more added sugar than is recommended,34 and that this overconsumption leads to increased risk for cardiovascular disease mortality.54 This is literally the smoking gun that shows that sugar is killing us. Other studies have shown that higher levels of sugar also lower fitness.55 And another interesting study showed that junk food alone made rats lazy.56 Does this give you food for thought? Perhaps you should prioritize a change to your diet?

Insulin, which is secreted in order to deal with sugar in the bloodstream, blocks leptin signaling.35 Leptin is the “satiety” hormone, which helps to tell our hypothalamus to stop eating.57 Since we are now secreting 2-3 times the amount of insulin than we used to, you can see, directly, how this has resulted in disastrous consequences for our world’s health.58 And why are we secreting more insulin? Quite simply, to deal with all the sugar we are over-consuming. It is not a complicated formula, but it is a formula that is bankrupting our nation, and making so many sick and overweight.

Prevention is paradigm. Avoid a high-sugar diet, become leaner, think faster, and feel better. There is not a single better thing you can do, diet-related, that will help you to improve your health. A Paleo Diet, which is intrinsically low in sugar, high in nutrient-dense foods, and filled with micronutrients, is the best path to wellness.

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References

1. Lustig RH, Schmidt LA, Brindis CD. Public health: The toxic truth about sugar. Nature. 2012;482(7383):27-9.

2. Available at: //www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17Sugar-t.html. Accessed September 13, 2014.

3. Available at: //www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/healthyeating/9987825/Sweet-poison-why-sugar-is-ruining-our-health.html. Accessed September 13, 2014.

4. Moreira PI. High-sugar diets, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013;16(4):440-5.

5. Ford ES, Giles WH, Mokdad AH. Increasing prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among u.s. Adults. Diabetes Care. 2004;27(10):2444-9.

6. Seaquist ER. Addressing the burden of diabetes. JAMA. 2014;311(22):2267-8.

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9. Johnson RK, Appel LJ, Brands M, et al. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2009;120(11):1011-20.

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16. Available at: //www.publicintegrity.org/2009/11/04/2758/food-lobbys-war-soda-tax. Accessed September 13, 2014.

17. Available at: //www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/02/26/172969363/how-the-food-industry-manipulates-taste-buds-with-salt-sugar-fat. Accessed September 13, 2014.

18. Available at: //www.orangejuicefacts.com/nutrition.html. Accessed September 13, 2014.

19. Ahmed SH, Guillem K, Vandaele Y. Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013;16(4):434-9.

20. Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(1):20-39.

21. Gearhardt A, Roberts M, Ashe M. If sugar is addictive…what does it mean for the law?. J Law Med Ethics. 2013;41 Suppl 1:46-9.

22. Available at: //www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/jun00/sugar0600.htm. Accessed September 13, 2014.

23. Available at: //www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/sugar-shockers-foods-surprisingly-high-in-sugar. Accessed September 13, 2014.

24. Available at: //www.cbsnews.com/news/cdc-kids-consume-too-much-sugar-mostly-from-processed-foods/. Accessed September 13, 2014.

25. Lythgoe A, Roberts C, Madden AM, Rennie KL. Marketing foods to children: a comparison of nutrient content between children’s and non-children’s products. Public Health Nutr. 2013;16(12):2221-30.

26. Daly M. Sugars, insulin sensitivity, and the postprandial state. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(4):865S-872S.

27. Musselman LP, Fink JL, Narzinski K, et al. A high-sugar diet produces obesity and insulin resistance in wild-type Drosophila. Dis Model Mech. 2011;4(6):842-9.

28. Gallagher EJ, Leroith D, Karnieli E. Insulin resistance in obesity as the underlying cause for the metabolic syndrome. Mt Sinai J Med. 2010;77(5):511-23.

29. Hofeldt FD. Reactive hypoglycemia. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 1989;18(1):185-201.

30. Yang Q. Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010. Yale J Biol Med. 2010;83(2):101-8.

31. Oliver KG, Huon GF, Zadro L, Williams KD. The role of interpersonal stress in overeating among high and low disinhibitors. Eat Behav. 2001;2(1):19-26.

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33. Malik, Vasanti S., Matthias B. Schulze, and Frank B. Hu. “Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 84.2 (2006): 274-288.

34. Yang Q, Zhang Z, Gregg EW, Flanders WD, Merritt R, Hu FB. Added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality among US adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2014.

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38. Available at: //www.cnn.com/2012/02/08/health/healthy-eating-tips-stress/. Accessed October 2, 2014.

39. Torres SJ, Nowson CA. Relationship between stress, eating behavior, and obesity. Nutrition. 2007;23(11-12):887-94.

40. Epstein DH, Shaham Y. Cheesecake-eating rats and the question of food addiction. Nat Neurosci. 2010;13(5):529-31.

41. Johnson PM, Kenny PJ. Dopamine D2 receptors in addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats. Nat Neurosci. 2010;13(5):635-41.

42. Weeratunga P, Jayasinghe S, Perera Y, Jayasena G, Jayasinghe S. Per capita sugar consumption and prevalence of diabetes mellitus–global and regional associations. BMC Public Health. 2014;14:186.

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The Reality of Food Addiction

On a scientific level, can food be addictive?1 The short answer, is yes.2 Food addiction is widespread,3 from the increasing obesity pandemic,4 to junk food marketing slogans like “I bet you can’t eat just one,”5 to the global popularity of coffee chains. But what makes food addictive? There are many factors involved,6 as humans are not only highly individualistic (what may be addictive for me, may not be addictive for you),7 but our environment has become hyper-stimulatory and obesogenic.8

Couple this with the fact processed foods have long-since been manufactured to promote overconsumption,9, 10 and you have a recipe for disaster. As if you needed more reasons to adopt a Paleo Diet, I hope to provide a brief insight into the questions behind food addiction, both scientifically and environmentally. However, for those more curious, I am currently lecturing nationwide on this topic, with a video of my lecture and my entire slideshow, embedded below.

Nearly all of us can empathize with the fact that sugar, junk food and fast food are all undeniably addictive.11, 12, 13 In a neuroscience study from 2010, researchers showed not only a disruption of sensitivity to brain-stimulation reward (BSR) from eating high fat and/or high carbohydrate food, but also an insensitivity to adverse consequences from consuming the food.14 This means we become both accustomed to the rewarding neurochemical effects of food and also seek out these foods, even when we know there will be harmful consequences.15 These are two behavioral aspects, which are also exhibited in drug addiction,16 reinforce studies showing the neurophysiology of food addiction overlaps with drug addiction,17 specifically via the nucleus accumbens, and the downregulation of D2 (dopamine) receptors.18

Taken together, the data supports the notion that obesity and drug addiction may arise from similar neuroadaptive responses in brain reward circuitries.19 In another study, researchers posit that intense sweetness from food surpasses cocaine reward.

Our findings clearly demonstrate that intense sweetness can surpass cocaine reward, even in drug-sensitized and -addicted individuals. We speculate that the addictive potential of intense sweetness results from an inborn hypersensitivity to sweet tastants. In most mammals, including rats and humans, sweet receptors evolved in ancestral environments poor in sugars and are thus not adapted to high concentrations of sweet tastants. The supranormal stimulation of these receptors by sugar-rich diets, such as those now widely available in modern societies, would generate a supranormal reward signal in the brain, with the potential to override self-control mechanisms and thus to lead to addiction. 20

In another interesting study, Oreo cookies were found to be as addictive as cocaine.21 In a different study, obese subjects showed greater activation in the bilateral hippocampus/parahippocampal gyrus, but lean subjects showed more activation in the posterior insula portion of the brain.22 Some scientists have speculated that exorphins from food may have lead humans to initially adopt agriculture,23 which was a more laborious and challenging way of life.

Cereals and dairy foods are not natural human foods, but rather are preferred because they contain exorphins. This chemical reward was the incentive for the adoption of cereal agriculture in the Neolithic. Regular self-administration of these substances facilitated the behavioural changes that led to the subsequent appearance of civilisation.

Other studies have delved into the rewarding properties of both high caloric, and neurologically rewarding foods, such as chocolate.24 Take note of the following image, illustrating how chocolate ‘cravers’ elicit completely different responses, neurologically, than ‘non-cravers.’

In addition to ‘craving,’ there is a host of activity seen within the human brain, in response to rewarding foods or food-based cues.25 Activity is seen in the orbitofrontal cortex, amygdala, insula, nucleus accumbens, dorsal striatum, and many other regions.

It’s fascinating that genetic vulnerabilities can increase predisposition to both obesity and drug addiction. This should come as no surprise to those who are well-versed in science. Oftentimes genetics and environment converge to cause dysfunction, both neurologically and physically.26 As stated by researchers:27

Neuroimaging studies in obese subjects provide evidence of altered reward and tolerance. Once obese, many individuals meet criteria for psychological dependence. Stress and dieting may sensitize an individual to reward. Finally, fast food advertisements, restaurants and menus all provide environmental cues that may trigger addictive overeating.

So how does one avoid addiction to food? The simplest method is to adopt a Paleo Diet. Then you will be avoiding processed foods, which are (by nature) addictive,28 since food chemists utilize a technique termed ‘the bliss point’ to keep consumers coming back for more. You will also be avoiding the opioid peptides found in dairy,29 as well as the opioid peptides found in grains.30 Enjoy real foods, and watch your health soar, as your addictions to sugar and other rewarding chemicals,31 vanish.

from

References

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29. Kurek M, Przybilla B, Hermann K, Ring J. A naturally occurring opioid peptide from cow’s milk, beta-casomorphine-7, is a direct histamine releaser in man. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 1992;97(2):115-20.

30. Huebner FR, Lieberman KW, Rubino RP, Wall JS. Demonstration of high opioid-like activity in isolated peptides from wheat gluten hydrolysates. Peptides. 1984;5(6):1139-47.

31. Blum K, Liu Y, Shriner R, Gold MS. Reward circuitry dopaminergic activation regulates food and drug craving behavior. Curr Pharm Des. 2011;17(12):1158-67.

 
 
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