Is Willpower Enough to Suppress Carbohydrate Cravings?
Is Carbohydrate addiction real or a figment of your imagination?
Are you overweight?
Do you wonder whether it is your fault or not?
Do you chastise yourself for not having enough willpower to lose weight?
Are you jealous of people who can have one cookie while you know you cannot stop at one and will instead polish off the whole box?
You cannot stop with one slice of cake and instead will finish off the entire cake, and you still will not be satisfied?
Is carbohydrate addiction a real physiological issue or is it just a manufactured excuse why we cannot stop eating, even when we want to, even when we are not hungry?
New Study Shows that Brain Addiction to Fast Carbs is Real
Written by Christian Nordqvist
You can see the full article in Medical News Today and it was once hosted at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/262603.php
Highly processed carbohydrates can trigger the same brain mechanism associated with substance addiction, researchers from the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital reported in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (June 26th, 2013 issue).
In other words, eating high glycemic foods, such as highly processed carbohydrates, can trigger overwhelming hunger and stimulate regions in the brain associated with reward and cravings.
Study leader, David Ludwig, MD, PhD, said cutting down on these high-glycemic foods may help prevent overeating in obese people.
Dr. Ludwig and team had set out to determine whether food consumption might be regulated by dopamine-containing pleasure centers in the brain.
Ludwig said, “Beyond reward and craving, this part of the brain is also linked to substance abuse and dependence, which raises the question as to whether certain foods might be addictive.”
Ludwig and colleagues measured levels of blood glucose and hunger, while at the same time using fMri (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to observe brain activity) to observe brain function. They focused on brain activity during the four-hour period after eating, which drives our eating behavior when we next eat.
This latest study included 12 obese or overweight participants. They were given two types of milkshakes, both with the same number of calories, taste and levels of sweetness. However, one contained high-glycemic carbs (carbohydrates) while the other had low-glycemic carbs.
After drinking the high-glycemic milkshake, the volunteers experienced the initial “sugar-rush”, a surge in blood glucose levels, followed by a steep crash four hours later.
The crash in blood sugar levels was accompanied by overwhelming hunger and intense activity within thenucleus accumbens, a region in the brain involved in addictive behaviors.
This study demonstrates what many people who have struggled with their weight have known for their entire lives.
High glycemic index types of food, like white bread, candy, sugar, cause overwhelming hunger.
This drives them to continue eating even though they are no longer hungry, also known as a binge.
This study helps to explain how obesity is not just a failing of willpower.
Obesity has real physiological roots, a real source in addiction that is not much unlike any other type of addiction such as drugs or alcoholism.
This also explains the cycle of the yo yo dieter, who takes off weight over a period of months, then takes a bite of cake or bread, pretzels of chips and within months is back at the weight where they started.
Dr. Richard Friedman in the New York Times reports:
Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has shown in several brain-imaging studies that people addicted to such drugs as cocaine, heroin and alcohol have fewer dopamine receptors in the brain’s reward pathways than non-addicts.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter critical to the experience of pleasure and desire, and sends a signal to the brain: Pay attention, this is important.
When Dr. Volkow compared the responses of addicts and normal controls with an infusion of a stimulant, she discovered that controls with high numbers of D2 receptors, a subtype of dopamine receptors, found it aversive, while addicts with low receptor levels found it pleasurable.
This finding and others like it suggest that drug addicts may have blunted reward systems in the brain, and that for them everyday pleasures don’t come close to the powerful reward of drugs. There is some intriguing evidence that there is an increase in D2 receptors in addicts who abstain from drugs, though we don’t yet know if they fully normalize with time.
You can see the full article here at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/health/02abuse.html?_r=0
Genetic variation between individuals, specifically in the number of their dopamine receptors, might explain why some people become addicts and others who eat the same foods, live in the same environment do not.
So, now what?
Let’s say that you do not have time in your life for science to prove conclusively that in fact, you do not have the same number of dopamine receptors as your family and friends who cannot understand why you just cannot lose weight.
Let’s say that you do not have time for science to concoct the nanobot technology that will correct or enhance your receptors.
Let’s say that you do not need a Doctor to tell you that after you have highly processed carbs like bagels, white bread, pretzels, chips, candy etc., you also start to feel overwhelming hunger which is incredibly difficult for you to control physiologically and you end up trying to quell the cravings by eating more of those same high glycemic index foods to give you the jolt of sugar that you need to feel good.
The answer is fairly simple to state but not necessarily that simple to implement when you factor in socializing to the equation.
The answer is for you to stop doing what you know is harmful to yourself.
The answer is for you to continue socializing, but do not be ashamed that you have less dopamine receptors that your friends or family.
This is all genetics.
Some people are tall, some are short, some have a lot of dopamine receptors, some do not.
Whatever gifts that nature has blessed us with is nothing for us to gloat about, nor is it something to condemn another person who did not have our good fortune.
Do what is right for yourself.
Stop hiding, do not be ashamed.
Socialize, be with your friends and family but just know that while they might be able to enjoy a slice of Entemman’s awesome pound cake, you cannot, and you should not.
Focus on vegetables, low glycemic fruits, legumes, nuts, some protein and that is all you have to do.
It might take a day or so, maybe more to break the addictive cycle, but hang in there and if you need any support, please feel free to comment or write.
I have battled the same all of my life and can totally understand the frustrations that you have.
You can beat carbohydrate addiction, you just need an effective plan.
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