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Are You a Carb Addict?

Sunday, January 25, 2009



Are You a Carb Addict?

By Jerome Burne

Could it really be that sweets and chocolate are as addictive as cigarettes?

That's the controversial conclusion from a study by New Zealand scientists who found that foods made largely from refined sugar and flour have the same addictive qualities as tobacco.

'Heavily processed carbohydrates such as cornflakes, sweets and croissants quickly raise the amount of sugar in your blood,' explains lead researcher Dr Simon Thornley, a registrar with the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.

'This rush of sugar stimulates the same areas of the brain that are involved with addiction to nicotine and other drugs.'

In other words, some of us may be piling on the pounds not just because we are greedy but because we are addicted.

If Dr Thornley's claim is supported, that would open up new ways of dealing with the obesity crisis, including a food version of the nicotine patch used to help smokers quit.

'Drug addicts have to keep taking larger amounts of their chemical of choice. They find it difficult to stop, they keep doing it despite negative consequences and they feel depressed if they do stop,' says Thornley, whose paper was published in the journal Medical Hypotheses. 'People do all those things around refined carbohydrates.'

Just how big a contribution this could be making to the obesity crisis isn't yet clear. 'We need more research,' says Thornley, 'but the evidence for refined carbs being potentially addictive is growing fast. There's a good case for treating highly refined foods as we do cigarettes - banning TV ads, taxing them and even insisting on pack health warnings.'
Studies of brain scans suggest that people who put on a lot of weight could be doing it to improve their mood; the same reason addicts take drugs.

This research shows that people with a high Body Mass Index (BMI) have fewer receptors in the part of their brains that generate pleasurable feelings. The same pattern is evident in people addicted to cocaine and alcohol.

These findings are backed by scientists at Princeton University in America, who have been turning rats into sugar addicts. The rats not only suffer cravings when sugar is taken away from them but they then binge on it when it becomes available again.

The concoction given to the rats was water with 10 per cent sugar added. Many fizzy drinks contain much more sugar than this. 'The idea that carbohydrates can be addictive is an old one but until recently it was out of favour,' says lead researcher Bonnie Spring, professor of preventative medicine at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

'Evidence has been building that high blood sugar levels affect brain circuits involved in addiction.'

A group of overweight women were offered two drinks that appeared and tasted identical, but one contained only sugary carbohydrates, such as dextrose and rice syrup, while the other had some protein added.

After they'd been made to feel depressed by thinking about something sad, most of them preferred the pure carbohydrate drink and said it cheered them up. Experiments like these are regularly used to test if a drug is addictive.

'The way these women behaved in response to the pure carbohydrate drink was similar to patterns we see in addicts,' says Spring.

'Addicts become tolerant of a drug so they need more of it, and we saw that with these women.'

One fascinating area of research is the link between raised blood sugar levels and the effects of smoking.

Pumping sugar rapidly into the bloodstream causes changes in various chemicals and hormones, including insulin and an amino acid called tryptophanin the brain. This creates more of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. Nicotine also raises serotonin levels. That's why sweets can give you a temporary 'lift' if you're feeling low or irritable - as can a cigarette.

'The more instant the hit from a drug, the more likely it is to be addictive,' says Thornley. That's why giving up smoking can be so hard - the nicotine gets into your bloodstream almost instantly.

A nicotine patch helps because it provides nicotine, but more slowly. Carb addicts may benefit from getting their hit of blood sugar more slowly.

Thornley says: 'Combining refined carbs with certain foods can slow down the rate sugar gets into the bloodstream. These include vinegar or lemon juice, fat, protein and roughage. All can slow it by around half.'

So, rather surprisingly, if you have butter along with your croissant and jam, your breakfast will give you less of a sugar rush.

But while some combinations can keep blood sugar down, others can make it worse - especially caffeine in coffee.

Dr David Haslam, of the UK National Obesity Forum, agrees we must reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates we eat.

'Certainly, evidence for the idea that these foods are addictive is getting stronger,' he says, 'and anything that reduces their consumption is a good thing.'

Find this story at www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1106003
/Are-carb-addict.html

  


Low-Carbohydrate Diet May Treat Obesity and Diabetes

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Low-Carbohydrate Diet May Treat Obesity and Diabetes

A low-carbohydrate diet may help treat obesity and diabetes say researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center. A clinical study found that people on low-carbohydrate diets burn more liver fat than those on low-calorie diets, therefore fighting diseases such as diabetes, insulin resistance and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

“Instead of looking at drugs to combat obesity and the diseases that stem from it, maybe optimizing diet can not only manage and treat these diseases, but also prevent them,” said Dr. Jeffrey Browning, assistant professor in the UT Southwestern Advanced Imaging Research Center and of internal medicine at the medical center.

Glucose (a form of sugar) and fat are sources of energy that are metabolized in the liver and used as energy by the body. Glucose can be made from lactate, amino acids or glycerol. Too much fat in the liver can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) a condition that may affect as many as a third of all American adults. NAFLD is linked to metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance and diabetes. It can also lead to inflammation of the liver, cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Researchers gave overweight or obese patients either a low-calorie or low-carbohydrate diet. After two weeks, they used imaging techniques to analyze what techniques the body used to make glucose.

“We saw a dramatic change in where and how the liver was producing glucose, depending on diet,” said Dr. Browning, the study’s lead author. Those on the low-carbohydrate diet produced more glucose from lactate or amino acids than those on a low-calorie diet. Those on low-calorie diets got about 40 percent of their glucose from glycogen, but those on low-carbohydrate diets got only about 20 percent of their glucose from glycogen. Instead, low-carb dieters burned liver fat for energy.

“Energy production is expensive for the liver,” said Dr. Browning. “It appears that for the people on a low-carbohydrate diet, in order to meet that expense, their livers have to burn excess fat.

Results also indicate that those on low-carbohydrate diets increased the amount of fat burned throughout their entire bodies.

Even though the study wasn’t designed to determine which diets worked best to control weight, patients on the low-carb diet lost almost twice as much weight as those on a low- calorie diet.

Newsmax.com Health Alerts 1-24-2009

  


Why We Must Drink Water

Friday, January 23, 2009

Why We Must Drink Water

According to research, nearly everyone is slightly dehydrated 24 hours a day. While our bodies have grown accustomed to this lack of vital fluids, as little as 1 to 2 percent dehydration increased cardiovascular strain and accelerates exhaustion. Poor fluid intake, fewer than 6 glasses a day—cause the body to secret the hormone aldosterone, prompting tissue to hold on to almost every molecule of water and sodium it can, according to Peter Lindner, MD, in Fat, Water Retention, and You. Several researchers have suggested that a decrease in water may cause an increase in fat deposits.

Very low carb diets can cause dehydration according to C. Wayne Callaway, MD, former director of the Nutrition and Lipid Clinic at the Mayo Clinic. “When your liver is forced to make sugar from stored glycogen or protein, water loss is inevitable.”

Each day, the average person loses at least 2 cups of water through breathing, another 2 cups through invisible perspiration, and 6 cups through urination and bowel movements. That’s 10 cups a day, without taking into account lost fluids through perspiration during exercise or hard physical work

Our lifestyles contribute to our fluid shortfall as well. Modern energy-efficient homes and office buildings constantly imperceptibly wick moisture out of us. So does stress.

“The fatigue, headaches, lack of concentration, and dizziness you feel at the end of a workday could result simply from not drinking enough water,” explains Liz Applegate, PhD, nutritional science lecturer at the University of California Davis. “It starts every day as soon as you awaken. When you open your eyes in the morning, your body is already facing a water deficit.”

From FLIP the SWITCH by Robert K. Cooper, PhD, c. 2005

  


Waistlines grow with carb addiction: Researchers

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Waistlines grow with carb addiction: Researchers

By Sharon Kirkey, Canwest News ServiceJanuary 18, 2009

Addiction to high glycemic index (GI) foods - which includes white bread, white bagels, white rice and breakfast cereals - is playing a key role in why people are getting fatter, researchers from New Zealand say.
Photograph by: JOHN MAHONEY, THE GAZETTE, The Gazette
Carb addiction is real, according to researchers who fear that by taking fat out of snacks, food producers are replacing it with more carbohydrates and making them even more addictive.

Addiction to high glycemic index (GI) foods - which includes white bread, white bagels, white rice and breakfast cereals - is playing a key role in why people are getting fatter, researchers from New Zealand say.

The glycemic index is a measure of how fast and by how much a food raises blood sugar and insulin levels.

"GI may be the element of food that, like nicotine in cigarettes, predicts its addictive potential," the researchers write in the journal, Medical Hypotheses.

But the focus is on getting fat out of food. Often a food's carb content increases as a result.

If their hypothesis is right, "these foods may be more reinforcing of overeating behaviour than those they have replaced," the researchers say.

In 2004, nearly seven million Canadian adults were overweight, and another 4.5 million were obese. Obesity among adults has nearly doubled since 1978, to 23 per cent in 2004. Despite a drum beat of bad news about the health risks, the numbers are rising.

"We always talk about people making poor choices and not sticking to their diets and not following Canada's food guide," says Dr. Arya Sharma, professor of medicine and chair for cardiovascular obesity research and management at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

"Part of what makes it so difficult are these addictive type behaviours. When people have a problem with mood, when they have a problem with stress or boredom, turning to food for comfort or reward makes a lot of sense."

Imaging studies show highly palatable foods stimulate the same parts of the brain as cocaine and other drugs of abuse. When addicts come off their drug of use, they often transfer those addictions to food, Sharma says.

The idea that "one of the biggest drivers of the obesity epidemic is in fact emotional eating and food addiction is something that I believe is under appreciated," she says.

This week, food addiction researchers are meeting in Houston to create public awareness and develop guidelines to identify foods that cause obsessive, uncontrollable cravings.

Some want food addiction included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, psychiatry's official guidebook of mental illnesses. The next edition is due out in 2012.

Researchers say people with addictive eating behaviours exhibit the classic features of addiction: They "use" more over time, they use to avoid unpleasant feelings, they eat more than they intend to, they fail in repeated attempts to cut down, and they overeat despite "negative consequences." A key feature is loss of control.

Dr. Simon Thornley, public health medicine registrar for the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, and his colleagues say the idea that rapidly digested carbs are particularly addictive parallels what is known about nicotine dependency.

Unlike nicotine patches or gum, a cigarette provides "the ultimate in fast delivery," with peak concentrations hitting the smoker's central nervous system within seconds of inhaling.

The same holds for refined, high-starch carbohydrates, the researchers say: A doughnut causes blood glucose levels to shoot up faster than eating low-glycemic carbs such as broccoli. People get a burst of energy, but soon after feel sluggish and hungry again. What's more, high-glycemic foods drive up the production of insulin, which tells the body to make and store fat.

Changing the way foods such as breads and cereals are processed could lead to significant public health gains, the researchers say.

skirkey@canwest.com

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SENKYOUSHI 1/23/2009 6:16AM

    You have been so helpful and have been a wealth of information. Thank you so much! Sometime ago you mentioned that we should heal the body before worrying about weightloss. I've been very discouraged and then I realized today, that some of the health issues I have are getting better. That is encouragement to keep on keeping on!

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JANRTEACH 1/21/2009 10:01PM

    Wow -- it's amazing how interconnected everything is. What about that comment about the carbohydrates hitting the system so fast. emoticon

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The 7-Day Low-Carb Rescue and Recovery Plan, book recommendation.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sometimes people who go on Low-Carb diets as question about "Transition Difficulty," I would like to recommend the book, The 7-Day Low-Carb Rescue and Recovery Plan. I just received my copy today from Amazon's Used Book Affiliates (I ordered a new copy, but at a greatly reduced price). It is targeted to all low-carb dieters, but it gives some pointer as to how to make a transition from a "normal" diet to low-carbs and addresses a lot of diet myths that can sabotage our diet efforts.

I've just skimmed through it once and I found three area that will immediately help me greatly to make faster progress.

1) "Two stalks of broccoli contain as many carbohydrates as a chocolate-covered ice cream bar." I have been eating shredded broccoli stalks called broccoli slaw every day as part of my salads and sometimes as a part of a stir-fry. I thought "since broccoli is healthy contains fibre and anti-oxidants" that it was okay. It really is high in carbs and it is an example of how easily we can fool ourselves and slow our progress by stretching the boundaries of the Carbohydrate Adict's Diet to fit our personal preferences and held-over beliefs.

2) Glutamates are in all kinds of foods and I know it, but when we see "natural flavors" on the packed to broth, we think "natural means good". No, in this case it is a way to avoid saying "this product contains MSG. The list of alternative names on a label that can mean MSG includes: "Anything Enzyme modified, Anything fermented, Anything protein fortified, Anything ultra pasteurized, Autolyzed yeast, Barley malt, Broth, Bouillon, Calcium Caseinate, Carrageen, Flavoring, Gelatin, Hydrolyzed oat flour, Hydrolyzed vegetable Protein, Hydrolyzed plant protein, Hydrolyzed soy protein, Malt extract, Maltodextrin, Natural flavors (flavoring), Pectin, Plant protein extract, Potassium glutamate, sodium caseinate, Soy protein, Soy sauce, Stock, Textured protein, Whey protein, Yeast extract, Yeast food."

My wife made a soup last night that had "natural flavors" in it. I ate at a Korean Deli and had a soup and nuka pickles, on the side. I "love" Oriental food, but I will have to make it at home, without soy sauce, "natural flavorings" or other oriental condiments to avoid the hidden MSG. The "love" is often a sign of MSG cravings as we have MSG receptors on our tongues that make us crave certain foods. This is a trap that I have fallen into several times since Christmas (and most of my adult life), because of my "love" of oriental foods (or MSG), which I have thought that I was avoiding.

3) The third suggestion is to eat your meals from lowest carb to the highest. I often start my reward meal with a bite of garlic toast if I am having that, and it should be last; the order that we eat food affects the way our insulin responds to it and we can help lower our insulin response by following this order of eating.

I recommend this book highly as it is written for all low carb diet practitioners and is full of wisdom that will help any low carb diet be more successful. It also has a 7-day transition diet that is very specific and easy to follow. The author want to help all low carb diet practitioners to be more successful. It doesn't replace the Crbohydrate Adict;s Diet LifeSpan Program book for Carbohydrate Addicts as our basic book, but it helps to give us more detail and some new "tricks" that can help us be more successful. I found at least three pertinent ideas on the first skim through and I look forward to giving it a serious study for even more help.

  


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