Friday, June 27, 2014

Food Addiction – A Serious Problem, Simple Solution

Food addiction is a very serious problem and one of the main reasons some people just can’t control themselves around certain foods, no matter how hard they try.\

Food addiction is, quite simply, being addicted to junk food in the same way as drug addicts are addicted to drugs. It involves the same areas in the brain, the same neurotransmitters and many of the symptoms are identical. Food addiction is a relatively new (and controversial) term and there are no good statistics available on how common it is. This is very similar to several other eating disorders, including binge eating disorder, compulsive overeating and having an “unhealthy” relationship with food.

Processed junk foods have a powerful effect on the “reward” centers in the brain, involving brain neurotransmitters like dopamine. The foods that seem to be the most problematic include typical “junk foods,” as well as foods that contain either sugar or wheat, or both. Food addiction is not about a lack of willpower or anything like that, it is caused by the intense dopamine signal “hijacking” the biochemistry of the brain. There are many studies that support the fact that food addiction is a real problem. The way this works is pretty complicated, but this short video explains it in human terms:
There is no blood test available to diagnose food addiction. Just like with other addictions, it is based on behavioral symptoms.

Here are 8 common symptoms that are typical of food addicts:

  1. You frequently get cravings for certain foods, despite feeling full and having just finished a nutritious meal.
  2. When you give in and start eating a food you were craving, you often find yourself eating much more than you intended to.
  3. When you eat a food you were craving, you sometimes eat to the point of feeling excessively “stuffed.”
  4. You often feel guilty after eating particular foods, yet find yourself eating them again soon after.
  5. You sometimes make excuses in your head about why you should eat something that you are craving.
  6. You have repeatedly tried to quit eating or setting rules (includes cheat meals/days) about certain foods, but been unsuccessful.
  7. You often hide your consumption of unhealthy foods from others.
  8. You feel unable to control your consumption of unhealthy foods, despite knowing that they are causing you physical harm (includes weight gain).

If you can relate to 4-5 of these, then you probably do have a serious problem with food. If you can relate to 6 or more, then you are most likely a food addict. Although the term “addiction” is often thrown around lightly, having true addiction is serious business.

Food addiction can cause physical harm. It can lead serious diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and depression, to name a few. But you have even bigger reasons to quit than some unfamiliar disease in your distant future. Food addiction is also ruining your life… today. It breaks your self-esteem, makes you unhappy with your body and can make your life a living hell (like it did for me). The seriousness of being a food addict can not be overstated. This is a problem that ruins lives and kills people. Literally.

The most important lesson I have ever learned is called the law of addiction: “Administration of a drug to an addict will cause reestablishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance.” A former smoker who has a puff of a cigarette will become addicted again… instantly. An alcoholic who has a sip of beer will relapse, with all the horrible consequences that follow There is no way of getting around it. This is simply how addiction works. I am personally convinced that food addiction is no different. One bite of cake, one sip of coke, one “cheat” – that’s all it takes. Of course, we all need to eat something. Otherwise we’ll die of starvation. But no one needs to eat sugar, refined wheat flour or any of the modern junk foods that people tend to lose control over.

Most food addicts will never be able to eat junk food like “regular” people again. That’s the cold, hard truth. But if they manage to avoid the “trigger foods,” then they should be able to eat healthy and lose weight without problems. The truth is… complete abstinence is the only thing that reliably works against addiction. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you will recover. Although the “everything in moderation” message may work for some people, this advice is a complete disaster for food addicts. When it comes to addiction, moderation fails. Every time. This is the simple (but not easy) solution to addiction. Avoiding the addictive substance at all times.

Completely avoiding junk foods may seem impossible. These foods are everywhere and are a major part of our culture. But believe me… once you’ve made the decision to never eat them again, avoiding them actually becomes easier. When you’ve made a firm decision to avoid them completely, then there’s no need for you to justify anything in your head and the cravings may not even show up. Many people who have done this (including myself) don’t even get cravings anymore, not after they’ve made a profound decision to simply avoid this stuff… permanently.
But if you’re still in doubt and are unsure if this is worth the sacrifice, then write down a list of pros and cons.

Pros might include: I’ll lose weight, I’ll live longer, I’ll have more energy and feel better every day, etc.

Cons might include: I won’t be able to eat ice cream with my family, no cookies on Christmas, I might have to explain my food choices… (Most of these social dilemmas can be solved easily). Write everything down, no matter how peculiar or vain. Then put your two lists side by side and ask yourself: Is it worth it?

If the answer is a resounding “yes” – then you can rest assured that you are doing the right thing.

There are a few things you can do to prepare yourself and make the transition as easy as possible:

  • Trigger Foods: Write down a list of the foods you tend to crave and/or binge on. These are the “trigger foods” you need to avoid completely.
  • Fast Food Places: Write down a list of fast food places that serve healthy foods. This is important and can prevent a relapse when you find yourself hungry and not in the mood to cook.

What to Eat: Think about what foods you’re going to eat. Preferably healthy foods that you like and are already eating regularly.

Pros and Cons: Consider making several copies of your “pros and cons” list. Keep a copy in your kitchen, glove compartment and purse/wallet. Sometimes you will need a reminder about why you’re doing this.

It’s important to NOT go on a “diet.” Put weight loss on hold for at least 1-3 months.

Overcoming food addiction is hard enough as it is, by adding hunger and additional restrictions to the mix you will just make things even harder and set yourself up for failure.

Now… set a date, some time in the near future (maybe this weekend or next week).

From this day and onward, you will never touch the addictive foods again. Not a single bite, ever. Period.
When All Else Fails… Seek Help

If you end up relapsing and losing control over your consumption again, then you’re not alone.
Relapses are the rule when it comes to addiction, not the exception. Most people have a history of several failed attempts before they manage to succeed in the long run. That’s how it was for me and most recovering food addicts I know.

But if you relapse often, then there really is no point in trying to do it on your own again. If you’ve failed a hundred times, then the chances of you succeeding when you try it for the 101th time are almost nonexistent. Luckily, help is not far off… There are health professionals and support groups that can help you overcome this serious problem. You can seek professional help… for example from a psychologist or psychiatrist. Try to find someone who has actual experience in dealing with food addiction.

But there are several free options available as well, including 12 step programs like Overeaters Anonymous (OA), GreySheeters Anonymous (GSA) and Food Addicts Anonymous (FAA).  Food addiction is a problem that will rarely resolve on its own. Unless you deal with it, chances are that it will just get worse over time.

If you have this problem, then you have to do something about it now, or it will end up ruining your life.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Vitamin A derivative potentially treats type 2 diabetes, prevents its cardiovascular complications

 At a  time when obesity, type 2 diabetes, and their complications are a veritable epidemic worldwide, researchers at the University of Montreal and CHUM Research Centre (CRCHUM) recently demonstrated the potential of retinoic acid (RA), a derivative of Vitamin A, in treating obesity and type 2 diabetes and preventing their cardiovascular complications.

"In obese and insulin resistant mice, retinoic acid reduces the risk of cardiac apoptosis, stimulates the expression of cardio-protective genes reduced by the disease, and protects against the accumulation of collagen in the cardiac muscle, thus avoiding the occurrence of fibrosis and possible associated future complications," says the first author of the study, Daniel-Constantin Manolescu.

 Apoptosis is the process of programmed cell death. The discovery follows other research conducted by his team on the effects of RA on insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity. "Blood glucose, insulin resistance, body weight, and adipocyte size were significantly decreased in treated animals, including abdominal fat, while dietary intake and physical activity were similar for treated or non-treated animals. This suggests an increase in basal energy expenditure," says Manolescu. White fat is an energy reserve formed by the accumulation of fat in the form of triglycerides to meet unexpected increases in energy costs, but it is also a hormonal tissue with a delicate balance. Overall, if energy intake is greater than expenditures over an extended period, obesity increases, while hormonal balance and energy metabolism are disturbed. In this context, resistance to type 2 diabetes develops over time.

Brown fat also stores triglycerides, but it has the ability to produce heat. Abundant in babies, brown fat does not disappear completely in adulthood. It is irrigated by blood vessels and has many mitochondria, the energy factories of cells. Vitamin A derivatives stimulate a mitochondrial uncoupling protein (UCP1) that allows uncoupling of the mitochondria pathway (oxidative phosphorylation ), which uses energy from the oxidation of nutrients for the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). For a period of time, they generate heat (thermogenesis) instead of ATP, which is traditionally the energy required for active metabolism. Exposure to cold leads to the stimulation of brown fat and white fat, promoting the conversion of triglycerides to free fatty acids and glycerol. However, in brown adipocytes, these fatty acids are rapidly oxidized in the mitochondria and produce heat (under the influence of the UCP1 protein). Brown fat thus helps to increase basal energy metabolism. As a result, hibernating mammals fatten in the fall without developing diabetes and lose weight without moving too much in the winter (while warming their den). They are also the animals that accumulate the most Vitamin A in their livers. Retinoic acid (a Vitamin A derivative) is recognized for its involvement in cell maturation and differentiation and may guide pre-adipocytes to become brown (or beige) instead of white. It is as if "boilers" were installed directly in reserves of white fat to melt it on the spot and prevent it from over-accumulating.

"Vitamine A is a bioactive nutrient. The originality of our project is in addressing obesity and type 2 diabetes through the involvement of retinoids. We have attracted international attention and were named among 12 teams in the world to bring conclusive data in this regard," says Dr. Pangala V. Bhat.

"Our studies on animals show that retinoic acid induces normalization of blood glucose and reduction of obesity. It is an important contribution to understanding RA action on the liver, fat, muscles, and the heart, and on retinoid metabolism, energy metabolism, fatty acid oxidation, and insulin resistance. Our research identifies new metabolic effects of retinoids and may lead to anti-obesity and anti-diabetic medicines," says Dr. Jean-Louis Chiasson.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Stress and Cortisol

We all get stressed from time to time and knowing how to deal with it is a lesson that everyone needs to learn. So what causes stress and why is it so bad for me? There are many reasons to avoid being stressed, but there is one substantial element that can cause your body to become a fat gaining machine. That element is called cortisol.

Cortisol is produced in the body when it`s faced with stressful conditions. Kids, family, work, school can all become stressful if preventative measures are not taken. When there is simply to much work to be done in a days time than what seems that can be done, your almost guaranteed to become stress. Stress is not the only cause of cortisol: overtraining, lack of sleep, and undereating can also make your body produce this harmful chemical. When your body is in a catabolic state, which simply means that your body doesn`t have enough nutrients to repair broken muscle fibers, cortisol will enter your body and try impairing you.

Fat gain and muscle loss will be the main problems your body has. You should also expect to suffer other side effects such as your body not getting the adequate nutrients it needs to function. Stress will not only have a negative impact on your bodybuilding, but will have an impact on your everyday life. Stess is often accompanied by physical symptoms, including: twitching or trembling, muscle tension, headaches, sweating, dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, abdominal pain (may be the only symptom of stress, especially in a child.) Sometimes other symptoms accompany anxiety: dizziness, rapid or irregular heart rate, rapid breathing, diarrhea or frequent need to urinate, fatigue, irritability, including loss of your temper.

Controlling cortisol is easier once you plan to stop it. The most important thing you can do is try keeping stress to a minimum. Sure, this is easier said than done but finding ways to eliminate stress is a step toward keeping cortisol to a minimum. In the gym, make sure you don`t overtrain. Your body easily becomes stressed by doing this. Finally, you should be eating enough protein in your diet to repair damaged muscle fiber that are broken down from the result of your training.

There are many products available that keep cortisol levels at bay, but following these techniques can save you money in the long run. The more time you spend educating yourself on proper ways of doing things, the better your body will be. You can either pop pills expecting a miracle with your body or you can use a method that has worked for hundreds of years, hard work!