Science Recorder reports that researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital have determined from brain scans that eating processed carbohydrates stimulate brain regions associated with pleasure and cravings in the same way that drugs like heroin and methamphetamines do.
The scientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to track brain activity during a four-hour period following a meal. Brain activity during this period of time impacts the eating behavior at the next meal. Their results mirror what other researchers in the field have discovered about the relationship of food to other kinds of addiction.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, on his website Mercola.com, refers to a study that has detected benzodiazepine in the brains and peripheral tissues of several animal species and human beings. Benzodiazepine may be reason why intense food addictions can be as strong as drug addictions. Research on rats has shown that sugar may be more addictive than cocaine. In the study, when rats were allowed to choose either sweetened water or cocaine, 94 percent chose the sweet water. Benbenzodiazepine is used in such drugs as Ativan, Xanax and Valium.
These highly addictive drugs exert a calming effect by boosting the action of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the same way as opioids such as heroin, and cannabinoids, such as marijuana do. Wheat and potatoes follow the identical brain “reward pathways” as psychoactive drugs. So that they may all be equally addictive—and certain people may be more impacted than others.
Food replete with sweets triggers a hormonal reaction resulting in craving for more of the same food, in a self-generating cycle. The hormone leptin, produced by the body’s fat cells, targets taste receptors on your tongue that can increase or reduce cravings for sweet foods Sweet receptors on the tongue evolved in humans at a time when their diet was very low in sugar. But these receptors did not adapt to the high-sugar consumption of the present day. Therefore, the abnormally high stimulation of these receptors by our sugar-rich diet has the tendency to override the brain’s normal self-control mechanisms.
On the other hand, leptin sends out a signal to the brain when the fat cells are full. The brain then instructs your body to suppress hunger pangs, increase the burning of fat and reduce fat storage. Animals and humans with low leptin levels, or defective leptin receptors, tend to become obese.
In addition, when the body is exposed to too much leptin, it will become resistant to it. It will no longer “hear” the messages the brain telling it to stop eating,
This is akin to what is going on in drug addiction. Neurons with dopamine, a neurotransmitter, relay pleasure signals to the brain. Dopamine at healthy levels causes us to feel “good.” Elevated levels of dopamine cause a “high.”
Over time, the brain actually changes so that levels of dopamine must be increased to remain effective. In addition, the body loses the ability to produce dopamine naturally, and must rely upon artificially produced dopamine
So food addiction and drug addiction are partners in the stimulation of the pleasure centers in the brain.
Food addiction is not only the victim of biochemical processes. There is, obviously, an emotional component. Research shows that approximately half of the adults suffering from food addiction resort to food in times of boredom, stress and loneliness. Stress especially causes people to seek comfort in foods that are greasy, salty or sweet. Women are particularly susceptible to being “stress-driven” eaters. They turn to food when they feel a lack of emotional support.
Dr. David Ludwig, director of the obesity prevention center at Boston Children’s Hospital, said that the study’s findings reveal that reducing foods with a “high-glycemic index” foods could help moderate overeating. The glycemic index is a qualitative indicator of carbohydrate’s ability to raise blood glucose levels. Diets with a high glycemic index increase the demand for insulin, resulting in a condition called hyperinsulinemia. Hyperinsulinemia is not only related to obesity but other disorders, such as hypertension.
Some foods to avoid:
Canned tomatoes. The resinous linings of tin cans contain a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to reproductive problems and heart disease.
Corn-fed beef are fed with corn and soybeans to fatten them up more rapidly, while they manufacture toxic chemicals for our consumption. .
The lining of the bags of microwave popcorn are replete with compounds linked to infertility in humans.
Nonorganic potatoes are treated with an excess of fungicides and herbicides.
Farmed salmon, crammed into pens and fed soy and poultry litter are low in vitamin D and high in carcinogens,
Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones, in order to boost production, contains a hormone called insulin-like growth factor, a contributory factor in breast, prostate, and colon cancers.
Conventional Apples, which are doused with most pesticides, are a major culprit in Parkinson’s disease.
The food we eat may create the kind of craving we usually ascribe to addicts of heroin, Oxycontin and methamphetamines. Both food and drug addictions aim for the pleasure centers in the brain. We may all be addicts in need of treatment.
By: Tom Ukinski