Yo-yo dieters’ brains and drug addicts’ brains have similar behaviours

Desperate for another hit?

According to Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) the yo-yo pattern of overeating followed by undereating, reduces the brain’s ability to feel reward.

An estimated 15 million people compulsively eat in the U.S. It is a common feature of obesity and eating disorders, most notably, binge eating disorder. People often overeat because it is pleasurable in the short term, but then attempt to compensate by dieting, reducing calorie intake and limiting themselves to “safe,” less palatable food. However, diets often fail, causing frequent “relapse” to overeating of foods high in fat and sugar (palatable foods).

Desperate for another hit? Or going “cold turkey”?

Yo-Yo dieters’ brains eventually show “drug-addict” like reactions.

“We are just now beginning to understand the addictive-like properties of food and how repeated overconsumption of high sugar — similar to taking drugs — may affect our brains and cause compulsive behaviors,”

Pietro Cottone, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology & experimental therapeutics at BUSM and co-director of the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders.

In the experiment half the people were given a high sugar, chocolate-flavored diet (exciting food) for two days each week. For the remaining days of the week they were given a standard control diet (dull food). Essentially they “yo-yo’ed” between exciting food and dull food.

The other half of the people were given the standard, dull, food all the time.

Yo-yo dieters’ brains became immune to the effects of amphetamines. They needed a “bigger hit” to feel rewarded.

When these people were given amphetamines, (yes, the researchers gave them all drugs – under medical supervision of course!) the amphimines did not have as much effect on the yo-yo dieters as it did on the people who ate the standard, dull diet.

Researchers found that the yo-yo dieters’ brains behaved similar to drugs addicts’, specifically a “crash” in the reward system.

When people become used to eating highly rewarding, sweet foods, when they can no longer get those rewarding foods, they have a similar “downer” to drug addicts who are going cold turkey.

Drug addicts eventually become immune to the “reward feelings” caused by the drug, which leads to drug addicts needing a bigger and bigger “high” every time. Similarly yo-yo dieting, leads to a constant search for a “bigger high” with more rewarding food, after a period of dull, unrewarding standard food.

“Compulsive eating may derive from the reduced ability to feel reward. These findings also provide support to the theory that compulsive eating has similarities to drug addiction.”

The researchers hope these findings spark new avenues of research into compulsive eating that will lead to more effective treatments for obesity and eating disorders.


Source: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191017125240.htm

Photo: Hand reaching for donut by Tijana Drndarski at Pexels.com


When does clean eating become an unhealthy obsession?

When healthy eating becomes an obsession it can become unhealthy
When healthy eating becomes an obsession it can become unhealthy

Although eating healthy is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, for some people this preoccupation with healthy eating can become physically and socially impairing.

When it becomes a pathological obsession with healthy eating or consuming only a limited range of food it is known as known as orthorexia nervosa 

 healthcare providers as well as members of the public should recognise … that so-called healthy eating can, in fact, be unhealthy. It can lead to malnourishment or make it very difficult to socialize with people in settings that involve eating. It can also be expensive and time-consuming.”

Jennifer Mills, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and senior author on the study

“When taken to the extreme, an obsession with clean eating can be a sign that the person is struggling to manage their mental health.”

Previous research has shown that unlike individuals with anorexia nervosa who restrict calories to maintain very low body weight, people who have the condition have a fixation with the quality of food eaten and its preparation rather than the number of calories.

Over time, people with orthorexia nervosa  spend increasing amounts of time and effort purchasing, planning, and preparing pure and healthy meals.

Eventually this planning and obsessing becomes all-consuming that interferes with other areas of life and results in weight loss.

Other eating habits such as being a vegetarian or vegan also put individuals at higher risk for developing orthorexia nervosa. Lacto-vegetarians were at highest risk for developing orthorexia nervosa and people who are on a strict eating schedule, spending large amounts of time preparing meals, were also at greater risk.

“In our research, we found equal rates of men and women who struggle with symptoms of orthorexia nervosa,” said Mills. “We still think of eating disorders as being a problem that affects mostly young women. Because of that assumption, the symptoms and negative consequences of orthorexia nervosa can fly under the radar and not be noticed or taken seriously.”

In short, it’s good to be careful about what you eat.
But also take care about being too careful!


Source: Materials provided by York UniversityNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Photos: Woman slicing vegetables by Retha Ferguson at Pexels.com


Proof: “device addiction” is making us fatter

Device addiction is making us fatter

New research from Rice University indicates that mindless switching between digital devices is associated with increased susceptibility to food temptations and lack of self-control, which may result in weight gain.

“Increased exposure to phones, tablets and other portable devices has been one of the most significant changes to our environments in the past few decades, and this occurred during a period in which obesity rates also climbed in many places,” said Richard Lopez, a postdoctoral research fellow at Rice and the study’s lead author.

People who compulsively check their phones,
tend to be fatter than people who don’t

The research found that people who used their phone compulsively or inappropriately (such as wanting check their phone for messages while they were talking to someone else) as well as more passive behaviors (like media-related distractions that interfere with your work) found that they had a with higher body mass index (BMI) and greater percentage of body fat.

When media multitaskers/compulsive phone users were shown pictures of food, whilst they were in a fMRI brain scanner, researchers saw increased activity in the part of the brain dealing with food temptation.

Compulsive phone user’s brains react
differently to images of tempting foods

Overall, Lopez said these findings suggest there are links between media multitasking, risk for obesity, brain-based measures for self-control and exposure to real-world food cues.


In other news: It’s not just WHAT you eat but also WHEN you eat

Read more …

“Such links are important to establish, given rising obesity rates and the prevalence of multimedia use in much of the modern world,” he said of the findings.

Lopez and his fellow researchers hope the study will raise awareness of the issue and promote future work on the topic.

The study was co-authored by Todd Heatherton of Dartmouth College and Dylan Wagner of Ohio State University.

“This study supports our research at MindfullyTrim” says Matt Walker-Wilson, lead researcher at MindfullyTrim, who did not contribute to the study.

“Automatic behaviour – or automaticity – is often the quickest and easier, but not always the best for our health.

Being mindful about what we are doing – being mindful about our eating and also being mindful about other activities – can lead to better choices and a healthier lifestyle.”


Source: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11682-019-00056-0

Photo: People using devices by fauxels at Pexels.com


 

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