Tag Archives: food addiction

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 written on this very subject.

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

 

 

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[34] Schulte EM, Avena NM, Gearhardt AN. Which foods may be addictive? The roles of processing, fat content, and glycemic load. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(2):e0117959.

[35] Meule A, Hermann T, Kübler A. Food addiction in overweight and obese adolescents seeking weight-loss treatment. Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2015;23(3):193-8.

[36] Hardman CA, Rogers PJ, Dallas R, Scott J, Ruddock HK, Robinson E. “Food addiction is real”. The effects of exposure to this message on self-diagnosed food addiction and eating behaviour. Appetite. 2015;91:179-84.

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[38] Piccinni A, Marazziti D, Vanelli F, et al. Food addiction spectrum: a theoretical model from normality to eating and overeating disorders. Curr Med Chem. 2015;22(13):1631-8.

[39] Pedram P, Sun G. Hormonal and dietary characteristics in obese human subjects with and without food addiction. Nutrients. 2015;7(1):223-38.

[40] Karlsson HK, Tuominen L, Tuulari JJ, et al. Obesity is associated with decreased μ-opioid but unaltered dopamine D2 receptor availability in the brain. J Neurosci. 2015;35(9):3959-65.

[41] Hebebrand J, Albayrak Ö, Adan R, et al. “Eating addiction”, rather than “food addiction”, better captures addictive-like eating behavior. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2014;47:295-306.

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[43] Barry D, Clarke M, Petry NM. Obesity and its relationship to addictions: is overeating a form of addictive behavior?. Am J Addict. 2009;18(6):439-51.

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[45] Fortuna JL. The obesity epidemic and food addiction: clinical similarities to drug dependence. J Psychoactive Drugs. 2012;44(1):56-63.

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

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

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[53] 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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[59] Tiehuis AM, Van der graaf Y, Mali WP, et al. Metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, and brain abnormalities on mri in patients with manifest arterial disease: the SMART-MR study. Diabetes Care. 2014;37(9):2515-21.

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

[66] Zhang Y, Von deneen KM, Tian J, Gold MS, Liu Y. Food addiction and neuroimaging. Curr Pharm Des. 2011;17(12):1149-57.

[67] Kanoski SE, Davidson TL. Western diet consumption and cognitive impairment: links to hippocampal dysfunction and obesity. Physiol Behav. 2011;103(1):59-68.

[68] Sturm R, Hattori A. Morbid obesity rates continue to rise rapidly in the United States. Int J Obes (Lond). 2013;37(6):889-91.

[69] Schmidt LA. New unsweetened truths about sugar. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(4):525-6.

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[72] Blumenthal DM, Gold MS. Neurobiology of food addiction. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2010;13(4):359-65.

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Not So (Artifically) Sweet | The Paleo Diet

I have had countless clients try to replace their sugar-laden diets with ones rich with artificial sweeteners. While this may work in the short term, it definitely does not work in the long term.1 2 And, the reasons for this are countless.3,

New research shows sugars specifically activate six neurosecretory cells in the brain, which produce Dh44, a homolog of the mammalian corticotropin-releasing hormone.4, 5 Artificial sweeteners do not activate these same cells – possibly leaving the brain in a half-finished reward state – potentially leading to more calories being taken in.6, 7

Not So (Artificially) Sweet | The Paleo Diet

Yang, Qing. “Gain Weight by ‘going Diet?’ Artificial Sweeteners and the Neurobiology of Sugar Cravings: Neuroscience 2010.” The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine 83.2 (2010): 101–108. Print.

Another issue with artificial sweeteners is they are typically much, much sweeter than sugar. Just how much sweeter are these manmade creations? Most artificial sweeteners are 200-400 times sweeter than regular table sugar!8 Many researchers argue this leaves the brain expecting a plethora of calories, and also disrupts the brain’s natural reward mechanisms.9

While followers of the Paleo diet will certainly know that artificial sweeteners have no place in a healthy lifestyle, many who are trying to change their eating habits rely on artificial sweeteners for brief time periods. Not a great idea. As the scientific literature suggests, artificial sweeteners (because they are sweet) encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence.10

Even stevia, which many will argue is a healthier alternative to most artificial sweeteners, is 100-300 times sweeter than table sugar!11 It is certainly not a good idea to be consuming something that sweet on a regular basis – whether it contains sugar or not. Furthermore, artificial sweeteners are typically packaged in foods or drinks that have a laundry list of other negative substances and artificial ingredients.12

Salient scientific studies clearly show how in repeatedly exposing ourselves to sugar, we help to train our flavor preference. In short – the more sweet we eat, the more we crave and expect it. Many studies have shown lowering fat and/or salt intake, over several weeks, leads to less craving of these elements. This is exactly how you should treat sugar and artificial sweeteners.

Not So (Artificallyy) Sweet | The Paleo Diet

Sclafani, Anthony. “Sweet Taste Signaling in the Gut.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 104.38 (2007): 14887–14888. PMC. Web. 7 July 2015.

On a granular level, T1R2 and T1R3 sweet taste receptors are found in taste cells in the mouth and enteroendocrine cells in the gut.13 Stimulation of the T1R2 and T1R3 receptors in the mouth by sugars and artificial sweeteners activates intracellular signaling elements, which trigger peripheral taste nerves and brain gustatory pathways. This is one way in which artificial sweeteners actually have a similar effect to sugar – which is not a good thing.

Moreover, research shows substituting sucrose-sweetened drinks for diet drinks does not reduce total energy intake – and may even result in a higher intake during the following day.14 Artificial sweeteners are not the answer.

Even back in 1986, researchers concluded that the data do not support the hypothesis that long-term artificial sweetener use either helps weight loss or prevents weight gain.15

Not So (Artifically) Sweet | The Paleo Diet

Fernstrom, John D. et al. “Mechanisms for Sweetness.” The Journal of Nutrition 142.6 (2012): 1134S–1141S. PMC. Web. 7 July 2015.

So why are artificial sweeteners still used? Well, quite simply: money and industry.

Artificial sweeteners are beneficial to the food industry for a variety of reasons. One – they are cheap, and can help make poor quality foods taste ‘better’. Two – it makes it seem like they care. They sell you the sugar-laden stuff, and then – if you are ‘health conscious’ – you can buy their artificially sweetened product instead. Either way – they win.

I may be preaching to the converted here on The Paleo Diet, but often times even the most disciplined of us slowly let little ‘cheats’ into our diet – without realizing the long term impacts these seemingly innocuous choices may be having on our bodies and brains. If we have any hope of getting out of the current obesity pandemic we currently find ourselves in, it starts with removing all the sweetness (artificial or not) from our collective diet.16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 Your health (and waistline) will thank you for it!

 

REFERENCES

[1] Feijó Fde M, Ballard CR, Foletto KC, et al. Saccharin and aspartame, compared with sucrose, induce greater weight gain in adult Wistar rats, at similar total caloric intake levels. Appetite. 2013;60(1):203-7.

[2] Bellisle F, Drewnowski A. Intense sweeteners, energy intake and the control of body weight. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007;61(6):691-700.

[3] Suez J, Korem T, Zeevi D, et al. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature. 2014;514(7521):181-6.

[4] Available at: //www.endocrinologyadvisor.com/neuroendocrinology/sugar-artificial-sweeteners-satiety/article/423644/. Accessed July 5, 2015.

[5] Dus M, Lai JS, Gunapala KM, et al. Nutrient Sensor in the Brain Directs the Action of the Brain-Gut Axis in Drosophila. Neuron. 2015;87(1):139-51.

[6] Fowler SP, Williams K, Resendez RG, Hunt KJ, Hazuda HP, Stern MP. Fueling the obesity epidemic? Artificially sweetened beverage use and long-term weight gain. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008;16(8):1894-900.

[7] Blundell JE, Hill AJ. Paradoxical effects of an intense sweetener (aspartame) on appetite. Lancet. 1986;1(8489):1092-3.

[8] Pandurangan M, Park J, Kim E. Aspartame downregulates 3T3-L1 differentiation. In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Anim. 2014;50(9):851-7.

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