The Biology of Food Addiction The Calorie Hypothesis
Current view: Obesity is just lack of will power …eat less, exercise more
The Biology of Food Addiction. This model fails because:
- Our body’s wise compensatory mechanisms defend against weight loss by decreasing energy expenditure and increasing appetite as we diet
- High glycemic carbohydrates (like added refined sugars, sugar-sweetened beverages, refined grains, and starches) light up the nucleus accumbent – the brain’s addiction center – promoting compulsive overeating of processed high glycemic foods
- Multiple other factors actually regulate metabolism: dietary composition, gut microbiome, toxic exposures, infections, allergens, nutrient status, mitochondrial dysfunction, and imbalance of hormones and neurotransmitters.
“Caloric-restricte traditional “diets” exacerbate metabolic dysfunction and actually lead to OVEREATING over the long-term”
A more accurate view…
Poor diet quality, not calories is drive of obesity
- All calories not created equal
- Food is more than calories… it is information that programs genetic expression and changes metabolic state
- Diets don’t work because they are not addressing fundamental drivers of excess caloric intake: physiologic addiction to refined carbs and sugar!
Sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine!
Experimental research reveals a commonality between addition to sugar and cocaine.
- Both sweet taste and drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, stimulate release of dopamine in ventral stratum, critical in the process of reward-processing and learning
- Cross-tolerance and dependance are seen in both sugar consumption and drugs of abuse. This means that over time it takes more and more of each to get the desired effect.
- In one study, rats preferred saccharin over IV cocaine. In another, they chose sucrose over cocaine.
Compulsive Overeating Can Resemble Drug Addiction
Visceral Fat is “hungry” and may drive overeating behavior
- Visceral fat is fat that is stored around your organs
- These visceral fat cells are metabolically active and suck fuel out of your blood stream, making you eat more!
- They secrete hormones and cytokines that promote weight gain and inflammation
- Hormones such as adiponectin, insulin, resisting, leptin and MSH
- Cytokines such as IL-6, TNF-alpha, and other pro-inflammatory molecules
- Insulin release surges in response to high glycemic foods, creating more inflammation and obesity-promoting metabolism, more visceral fat storage = vicious cycle
Dietary composition more important than calories…
- In this large European study, increase in protein content and a reduction in the glycemic index led to an improvement in study completion and maintenance of weight loss.
- Another study shows a low-glycemic diet higher in fat and protein improves metabolic rate and energy.
- Mice fed high-GI diet had almost twice the body fat of those on the low-GI diet after 9 weeks.
- Athletes on ketogenic, high-fat diet had better performance, less fatigue
Bottom line: Latest research indicates that sugar consumption is an independent risk factor for many, if not ALL, chronic disease.
Do you need more reasons to stop eating sugar now?
Here are my recommendations for optimal health and weight:
- Quality of foods is essential… low glycemic load, high micronutrient and phytonutrient and fiber content = eat a rainbow of colors in your foods.
- Choose organic, pastured meats and wild fish
- Eat more vegetables and low-glycemic fruits, like berries and green apples
- Avoid all packages, processed foods – if it has more than 3-4 ingredients don’t buy it!
- Limit high glycemic starchy foods, like white potatoes and white rice
- Eliminate gluten if you’re sensitive and avoid ALL refined processed grains
- Avoid all hydrogenated and trans fats. Use organic butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado and other healthy fats freely
- Avoid genetically modified foods, like corn, soy, canola.