Food addiction is real.
Research shows that certain foods, particularly sweet foods, bread, pasta and other carbohydrates, activate the same pathways in the brain as cocaine, alcohol, smoking and cannabis. This is why smokers often over-eat when they give up cigarettes and cannabis users get ‘the munchies’ i.e food cravings following cannabis use.
Food addiction involves the reward centre of the brain, so each time an addictive food is eaten this reward system is activated and reinforced.
In simple terms, addictive foods trigger the release of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, in the brain. Your cells become flooded with this chemical and effectively become ‘desensitised’ so needing more and more neurotransmitter release to get the same ‘high’. This is how addictions come about.
Some people are more prone to these addictions because they have low levels of dopamine in their brain and their cells have fewer receptors for dopamine (like having fewer windows to let the sunshine in).
WHAT TO DO
RAISE DOPAMINE IN OTHER WAYS:
Exercise (in moderation).
Get some sunshine on you.
Meditation – there is scientific evidence to show this increases dopamine
Eat good sources of protein – dopamine is made from an amino acid called tyrosine (which is also used to make thyroid hormone).
Eat raw cacao – contains a substance called PEA which raises dopamine (dipping a banana in cacao is a good snack).
Ensure good levels of B vitamins, which are needed to make neurotransmitters.
Find an activity that is goal-orientated and enjoyable where rewards are a part of it.
N-acetylcysteine (NAC): New research has shown that NAC can be very helpful in overcoming addictions (food, alcoholism, smoking, cannabis, gambling). NAC also helps you make glutathione, the body’s main antioxidant.
Magnesium: Needed to make dopamine.
Acetyl L-carnitine: Twin benefit of boosting fat loss and increasing dopamine.
L-theanine: Either supplement form (e.g BCN Tranquil Mind) or from drinking green tea.
B vitamins: Needed to make neurotransmitters.
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