Skip to comments.Processed carbohydrates are addictive, brain study suggests
Posted on 06/30/2013 2:27:36 PM PDT by neverdem
People may joke they're addicted to desserts, but new brain imaging research shows there may be some truth to the statement.
Researchers have found eating highly-processed carbohydrates like cakes, cookies and chips could affect pleasure centers in the brain, leading to serious cravings that might cause people to overeat.
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"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," study author Dr. David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children's Hospital, said in a press release.
Our brains consist of a complex network of pathways and regions that control for all our bodily functions. Chemical messengers called neurotransmitters allow signals to pass from one nerve cell to the next to aid in these functions.
One neurotransmitter, dopamine, plays a major role in the brain's reward pathways. For example, the brain gets flooded with dopamine when people take addictive drugs including cocaine and nicotine.
To find out how food intake was regulated by the dopamine-reward pathway, Ludwig and his colleagues recruited 12 overweight or obese men between the ages of 18 and 35 years old. On two occasions, they were fed milkshakes that were almost identical except one had a high-glycemic index and one was low-glycemic.
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The glycemic index measures how fast blood sugar levels rise after eating that item. High-glycemic carbohydrates get digested rapidly, and include white bread, pasta, rice and baked goods, WebMD notes. Low-glycemic carbs are digested much slower, and include fruits, vegetables, unproessed whole grains and legumes.
Four hours after the meals, they were given fMRI brain scans that measured activity of these networks and pathways.
Participants who drank the high-glycemic milkshakes saw their blood sugar levels surge, only to sharply crash four hours later. When their blood sugar dropped, not only did they feel excessive hunger, but the fMRIs showed "intense" activation in the nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain involved in addiction.
The researchers pointed out previous studies comparing eating vegetables or high-calorie cheesecakes also showed different brain reactions. But, this study showed that when calories and sweetness are equal, glycemic index could still trigger brain changes that might lead to overeating.
"These findings suggest that limiting high-glycemic index carbohydrates like white bread and potatoes could help obese individuals reduce cravings and control the urge to overeat," said Ludwig.
Commenting on the study, Dr. Christoph Buettner, an associate professor of neuroscience at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, told Everyday Health, "Food activates similar areas in the brain as drugs do, that is already accepted." Buettner, who was not involved in the research, added, "The strength of this study is that it shows that the kind of diet you eat can influence this."
The new research was published June 26 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
What they found was that four hours after drinking the high-glycemic shake, blood sugar levels had plummeted into the hypoglycemic range, the subjects reported more hunger, and brain scans showed greater activation in parts of the brain that regulate cravings, reward and addictive behaviors. Although the subject pool was small, every subject showed the same response, and the differences in blood flow to these regions of the brain between the two conditions was quite substantial, Dr. Ludwig said.
Based on the strength and consistency of the response, he added, the likelihood that this was due to chance was less than one in a thousand.
There are videos at the CBS source.
Space aleins must be laughing at the prospects of invading a world dominated by creatures that live for fast food and excitement without exertion.
Now they want my French Fries.
Will this never end? Why don’t they ask me to give up broccoli?
Will nanny Bloomberg go after Lucky Charms as potentially addicting and harmful to Children’s health? Of course not!
I'm also addicted to water, but don't tell my wife or she'll hide it from me.
The glycemic response of the foods we consume is, generally, a good indicator of expanding girth as we age and metabolism / insulin resistance changes. Most people will gain on the average of 1.5 to 5 pounds per year beginning in their 20’s. Anything that drives insulin drives fat and creation of adipose tissue.
It’s because the chemicals from the stomach to the brain take too long to say that it’s full.
Oh I love peanut butter m&ms...
Americans eat trainloads of this cheet...And they can't figure out why people are getting sick and getting fat?
Processed packaged poison.
The most addictive substance on this earth and it has everyone that ever lived as a member with a recidivism rate of 100%.
Just give me a nice juicy steak and no one gets hurt (you can keep the sweet stuff)!
I read a long long time ago that there's a 20 minute delay. That's why it's better to eat slow, one may eat less but the time the 20 minutes are up.
Will Bloomberg go after Twinkies when they become available this month.
Better not try it,I can hear the cries of “get a rope!”
As a teenager I had a ripping metabolism. One that would not allow me to actually gain muscle. I was skinny but not fit. I managed to overcome that metabolism with alcohol and bad food.
I became obese.
I made a decision not to be obese. I lost 70 lbs through mostly diet along with exercise. I have actually managed to gain some muscle mass and am now about 12 lbs above my low weight last year.
I have my metabolism back.
I am able to mostly eat the things I love and not worry much. Mind you I still watch the ammounts but I enjoy life. I ride my bike EVERYDAY. Becoming an active person is well within the possibility for everyone. My wife is obese and still thinks its a magic pill that does this. She even sees me everyday get up for work and get ready for my bike ride. She still imagines that it is not the hard work.
You can visually see someone make this transformation and still not believe what is happening. The human mind wants it to be instantaneous. My transformation took me almost two years.
It’s next to impossible for someone with endocrine disease to want to get up and do exercise. We never have energy.
Drink a glass of water and eat a slice of bread 30 minutes before mealtime. By mealtime your brain will have gotten the message that you’ve eaten and you will tend to eat less during the meal.
Simple diet plan.
Yep. Cut out anything with wheat in it and go verrrrrrry easy on the sugar. Eat all the meat, dairy, fruits, and vegetable you can stuff down your throat. You can't help but lose weight unless you have a thyroid problem.
Now, that said, I don't want the government cracking down on these foods, but it's been my experience that skipping them keeps you very skinny without hunger pangs every few hours.
Not too many people remember the time-tested advice to chew your food (what was it, 24 times or something?)
If Bloomie had only extended his reach to include Skittles & Sanford, FL, we would not have to endure this race pimp spectacle of a trial.
If I drank a glass of water and a slice of bread 30 minutes before any mealtime, my diet would end up being bread and water. I prefer to eat slowly and savor each bite as well as 5 meals a day instead of the basic 3.
One thing I did notice among my friends and family. When their teeth started going bad, they gained weight. I think this is because one tends to swallow, gulp down instead of thoroughly chewing food when experiencing a toothache.
“I’m also addicted to water, but don’t tell my wife or she’ll hide it from me.”
My wife found a bottle of water under my car seat. I told her I was just holding it for a friend.
It could’ve turned into a huge argument had I not been late for my WA meeting.
I agree, I don't think I want the government cracking down on these foods - we all need to be able to make informed decisions for ourselves. Yet, with O'care, we will all be paying the overwhelming cost of obesity in this nation. They are talking about doubling rates for smokers, well, what about people who can't help but stuff thousands of calories down their throats on a daily basis? Insulin resistance, obesity, and the cancers that consume sugars are the greatest health threat to society, yet few people dare talk about it in blunt terms.
I quit consuming carbs, in any appreciable amount, years ago. My weight began to regulate properly, my high blood pressure, high cholesterol, neuropathy, restless legs, and elevated glucose levels all went away in short order. I feel better than I did 30 years ago! I find it easier to be satiated by a tablespoon or two of coconut oil than I used to be by a McDonalds Big Mac meal, plus I don't get the insulin response.
I chew a lot more than that.
The point of my story is that we as a society try to manufacture reasons that we should all be obese.
Most people do not have true medical issues that predispose them to obesity. Often times obesity is a wicked self fulfilling problem. Many people who are obese do not have the energy or will to move much nor eat right. I know I didn’t. I would rather drink a 5th of whiskey than run around the block in 100 degree weather.
I mention my wife’s obesity because I didn’t marry an obese woman. I married a thin energetic woman. She has managed to pile excuse upon excuse in order to reach her current weight and health issues.
Of course its easy for me. I mean anyone can commute to work by bike but it is only my body type that actually loses weight under those circumstances.
50’s, female, 125 lbs, bike 60 miles per week and strength train. 22% BMI You can beat this bullshit system. You have to do the work and stick with it. So over it!
Normal people with normal hunger regulation don’t do need to do that.
Normal people with normal hunger regulation are not doing that.
Normal people with normal hunger regulation are not doing any of this.
What are you classifying as normal? Utilizing the current rend and statistics, by 2030, more than 50% of the U.S. population will be obese - we are at nearly 40% now. So, the 'normal' people that you speak of have an issue and are unaware of it. Normal hunger regulation - is that the hunger regulation or insulin response that is giving us 7.9 million new cases of diabetes every year? The cycle of hyperglycemia post meal and rapidly decreasing levels immediately creating a 'need' or 'urge' to re-up your blood sugar - that has nothing to do with hunger regulation and everything to do with insulin regulation.
People who are normally thin and don’t give a nanosecond of thought to how much they are eating. My husband is one.
Ya think? Every trip outside my home I see morbidly obese people who are sick and feeding themselves with BS! They don’t care! Lazy fat asses. There I said it! It took me 2 years to get here. Why won’t they? Lazy looking for a magic pill I guess.
I agree with you, poobear. I worked my a$$ off years ago, lost 124 pounds, learned about nutrition and bichemistry and have been fit ever since. I'll never look down my nose at anyone, but I'll be damned if I let them make excuses for their gluttonous and sloth like behaviors. Regulate your diet, work out, put down the fast food and get off the damn couch - it's just that simple. Everybody wants an excuse for why they are fat, or offer one as to why they 'can't lose weight - I call BS!
Bet ya can’t eat just one?
Almost nobody wants to get up and exercise, whether you have an endocrine disease or not. I certainly don't. I don't have any energy, not only from endocrine disorder but from asthma. So what? We have to do it anyway. We have to do a lot of things we don't really want to do. I don't want to get up and go to work--I don't have the energy for that, either. But not feeling like it is not an excuse. You make a decision and you do it.
I don’t look down on people who are fat. I feel bad that they are killing themselves with food! The old ones are limping on bad hips and knees, the young ones look like walking heart attacks. All, walking through the bread and processed food isles at the grocery store.
It took me awhile to figure out that I have an addictive personality. And probably an “oral fixation”.
I gave up sucking my thumb at a very late age.
Then chewing tobacco.
Quit the beer (hard). Quit the tobacco (even harder).
I guess now it needs to be the cookies and the bread and the pastries and the chips. Did I mention cookies!?
Have you read the book "Wheat Belly" by William Davis, he pretty much says the same thing. He also states that there are certain proteins in today's (Hybrid) wheat which actually cause you get become more hungry.
Yes, I have. I had cut down on wheat for a couple years [lost 20lbs], but after reading "Wheat Belly" a couple months ago, decided to go whole-hog.
The results are simply amazing. Besides dropping another 10lbs, I've seen ugly skin rashes disappear, the developing bursitis in one shoulder has gone away, my neck arthritis is 90% better, and my blood pressure -- for the first time in my adult life -- is normal.
My 89 year old mother who is on a walker and can't exercise has lost 12lbs in 2 months.
I decided to go completely wheat-free to test the amazing claims of other readers. So far, I'd have to say they're not making it up.
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