Blog: Fasting for Weight Loss & Psoriasis Healing
by YoungLady

Food Addictions May Have Chemical Basis

People who become addicted to drugs and those who eat compulsively may experience similar changes in brain chemistry that keep them coming back for more.

Date:   5/20/2006 10:40:31 AM   ( 17 y ) ... viewed 2555 times

Food Addictions May Have Chemical Basis

People who become addicted to drugs and those who eat compulsively may experience similar changes in brain chemistry that keep them coming back for more.

This theory is just one put forth at a conference on the relationship between substance abuse and eating disorders.

While it is well known that people who suffer from bulimia and anorexia nervosa are more likely to abuse drugs, alcohol or nicotine, the reasons why remain unclear.

The factors that motivate a person to abuse drugs or eat compulsively may share circuits in the brain. For example, studies have shown that restricting food changes levels of dopamine -- a brain chemical associated with feelings of pleasure -- in the brains of mice. It is also known that cocaine makes a person's brain more sensitive to heroin via changes in dopamine levels.

So, food restriction might sensitize the brain to drugs.

People who have certain eating disorders are more likely to smoke, drink and abuse drugs. For example, students who have dieted by the sixth grade are more than 20% more likely to drink alcohol by the ninth grade. And the more frequently an incoming college female diets, the more likely she is to use drugs and abuse alcohol.

Further, 12% to 18% of individuals with anorexia and 30% to 70% of people with bulimia abuse tobacco, alcohol, pills and over-the-counter drugs.

Previous studies have shown that heavy smokers may use nicotine to manage psychiatric problems including bulimia and binge eating.

Nicotine, according to one study, can quickly alter brain chemicals including dopamine, and can either sedate or stimulate depending on the timing and dosage of the drug.

And many women use smoking as a weight-control tool. Girls who smoke to suppress their appetites are among the largest group of new nicotine addicts, and women who smoke are more than two-times as likely as men to cite weight control as a reason not to quit smoking.

The tobacco companies understood the relationship between smoking and weight control long before the public health experts, as a 1920s advertisement for Lucky Strike cigarettes told women to "reach for a Lucky Strike instead of a sweet."

The latest slogan for Capri cigarettes is "there's no slimmer way to smoke."

"There is no question that relationships (with parents) are a major, major issue in the development of a child's personality, emotional makeup and chemical system.

National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University in New York City. January 23, 2001

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

There is no question in my mind that most of us have food addictions to grains (breads, pasta, rice, etc) and sugar. That is why it is such a challenge to follow the diet.

The chemical imbalance that results from addictions is frequently helped with exercise. Exercise can be not only a powerful tool in weight loss but also in normalizing brain biochemistry.

Ultimately though the way to manage any addiction is though complete abstinence. The reason most people struggle with giving up sugar is that they are still eating grains. The grains break down to sugar and perpetuate the addiction.

So the solution is total abstinence from grains and sugars. The amazing thing that happens is that in about 3 days the cravings disappear. It is important to note that it is wise to eat some animal protein and a small amount of vegetables every two hours while awake when first starting this approach.

This will compensate for the secondary hypoglycemia that tends to occur when stopping suddenly stopping sugars and grains. These symptoms would be lightheadedness, fatigue, headache and a decrease in the ability to focus and concentrate. This is only necessary to do for several days, as after that time most people's insulin levels will come into a new balance.

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