Stop Sugar Cravings

3 Natural Treatment for Food Addiction

3 Natural Treatments for Food Addiction
By Iris Bell, M.D. Ph.D.

Food addiction is a real and serious biochemical problem of the brain that affects behavior and needs a multi-pronged treatment approach. Specific diet plans are the foundation of therapy, with abstinence (complete avoidance of the trigger foods) essential. Although natural treatments other than diet for food addiction get less attention, several strategies may help you get through the initial treatment phase.

Overall, to come up with ideas that might help, it is important to think about the biochemistry of the brain pathways involved in developing cravings and experiencing reward. The pathways include what is called the mesolimbic system, which relies in part on the brain transmitter dopamine. Other neurotransmitters that regulate dopamine in that region include glutamate (excitatory) and GABA (inhibitory).

In addition, many foods stimulate release of natural endorphins, the morphine-like peptide hormones of the brain and body. Endorphins can contribute to the calming effects of certain highly rewarding foods like sweets and/or fats. Finally, the gut digests the proteins from specific foods like wheat gluten or milk casein into morphine-like peptide hormones called exorphins.

With that background in mind, let's look at 3 natural treatments other than restrictive diets that might help people with food addiction get back in control of their eating behavior:

1. Wild ginseng - Wild ginseng is an herb available over-the-counter that has demonstrated an ability to cut down on morphine-triggered sensitization in rats.

Scientists believe that sensitization, i.e., adaptive changes in the function of cells that regulate dopamine release and behavioral responses by the mesolimbic pathways, contribute to cravings for many different addictive substances. Addictive substances include drugs like morphine, cocaine or amphetamine and foods like table sugar (sucrose). In sensitization, the same stimulus repeated intermittently leads to the progressive amplification of responses because of changes in the individual who has received the stimulus (or drug) or a cross-sensitized stimulus (or drug).

In addition, stress itself can cross-sensitize with cocaine or amphetamine, which means that once sensitization has taken hold, there are many different, seemingly unrelated factors that can set things off again.

Finding ways to block the development and/or expression of sensitization may help reduce the addictive potential of drugs or foods that act on those brain pathways. Wild ginseng appears to be more effective than Panax ginseng in inhibiting the biochemical changes associated with developing sensitization to morphine.

2. N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) - NAC is an antioxidant and amino acid available over-the-counter that can alter the changes that a stimulant drug like cocaine can cause in the mesolimbic pathways of the brain involved in sensitization. In this case, NAC may balance effects of another brain biochemical called glutamate, which is an excitatory amino acid involved in many essential brain functions. NAC cannot prevent the immediate effects of addictive substances, but it can cut down on the progressive growth of the sensitized response in the brain and behavior.

Furthermore, NAC together with bethanechol, a parasympathetic substance, can mimic feeding signals in the body and reverse insulin resistance seen in diabetic animals who had been eating a high-sucrose diet.

3. Acupuncture - Acupuncture is an ancient healing technique that involves the insertion of very thin needles into specific points (acupuncture points) of the body. Acupuncture practitioners are highly trained experts who know when, where and how to stimulate or sedate a point to produce desired therapeutic effects.

Chinese medicine theory suggests that these usually superficial acupuncture points fall along pathways called meridians as part of a complex, subtle network. The acupuncture network is separate from nerves, blood vessels or other physical structures in the body, though connective tissue may be involved.

Meridians run literally from head to toe. Sophisticated brain imaging tests have shown that inserting needles into specific acupuncture points along the body can change activity of specific brain pathways located physically far away in the body from the point where the needle was inserted.

Research has shown that acupuncture can cut down on cocaine-sensitized behaviors in association with changes in the dopamine reward pathways of the brain. Acupuncture at a specific point can also cut down on morphine seeking behavior and withdrawal symptoms in morphine-addicted animals. The brain transmitter GABA may be involved in this beneficial set of effects.

Overall, these 3 integrative approaches taken from alternative medicine may offer some helpful strategies for people trying to overcome food addiction. But, every person's situation is unique. You should always consult your own physician, acupuncturist, and/or naturopathic doctor about what may or may not be advisable and safe for you.

To discover more tips for self help and natural approaches on how to stop food addiction, claim your copy of our 7-part mini-course on food addiction at Overcome Food Addiction today.

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Dr Charles DC “Fat Loss Factor” – Program Review

FatLossFactorGraphicDr. Charles DC's "Fat Loss Factor" contains easy to follow guidelines for a quick healthy lifestyle plan. It can help anyone in any physical condition to lose unwanted belly fat. From the first principle of preparing for success to the last one,this program implements a lifestyle of fitness, eating right for your body, and the mental attitude that it takes to reach your goal weight.

This lively and informative book is full of practical, down to earth advice. Combine it with our free food addiction mini-course, and you are on your way. You can do this. Now...

Fat Loss Factor starts by measuring your basic statistics including weight, and body fat percentage. You are also asked to get photographs of yourself at the start so you can monitor your progress through the program. You’re advised to check your clothing at the beginning too, because you’ll likely find it to fit more loosely as you apply the principles of the program. Waist measurements are important too: women should ideally be around thirty two inches while a thirty five inch waist is ideal for men.

The program doesn’t take a miracle approach to get what it promises: a lean, healthy body that you can be proud of. These goals are reached through the consistent practice of proven principles of fitness and health. For example, the book stipulates early on that a change in eating habits is essential to your physical goals. Eating healthy foods that promote fat loss, metabolism, and energy is equally important to following the exercise regimen prescribed in the book.

Once your body is cleansed and fueled by natural foods, you are introduced into some basic fat loss principles for exercise. According to the book, building muscle is essential to burning fat. That’s right, you won’t need any diet pills or other trendy supplements to get the body you want. The book explains how muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, giving you the ability to burn fat even when you’re not working out. By working in sets and supersets, Fat Loss Factor guides you through basic exercises that will build the muscle you need without bulking up.

By the time you reach the fourth principle of fat loss, you will find out that traditional cardiovascular routines are not what you want to do for your exercise. Citing scientific research from around the world, Fat Loss Factor urges exercising in bursts or what is called burst training. By alternating between high intensity and low intensity intervals, your body burns more fat and your workout is much shorter!

Readers will find Fat Loss Factor Program an entertaining and informative approach that will motivate them to avoid weight loss and fitness gadgets and gimmicks and steer them toward practical fat loss methods that work. Keep your health while you are eating in a way that can restore it...

To top it off, you get the no-hassle money-back guarantee AND the cost is LESS than a session with a personal trainer. Check it out and let us know what you think - CLICK HERE

Nutrition Tips from the Fat Loss Factor Expert

You need nutrition tips that answer the most frequently asked questions about nutrition, diet, and food. Here are some great examples to get you started from our guest blogger, Dr Charles DC of the "Fat Loss Factor" program fame...

Does the belief that soy’s not good for health apply to all people or just to musclebuilders?

This principle is accurate no matter who you are. I should emphasize, however, that it is especially true for those who are trying to develop their muscular systems. The problem is that soy causes your body to produce hormones that are contrary to your goal. The source of the problem is the phytoestrogen content of soy. The result is that your body reacts to it by reducing your testosterone level.

A common place where soy shows up is in powdered proteins and bars, so you need to check the ingredients before buying any of those products.

Is it OK if the protein-powder I have contains sweetening agents that are not natural?

I think you can probably tell the answer to that question on your own. The answer is no. Artificial sweetening agents are poisonous and should be avoided. They affect your mind, your metabolic rate, and even organs such as the liver. Stay away from any sweetener that isn’t natural.

Speaking of sweeteners, if you’re drinking colas, you should be able to lose ten pounds quickly just by cutting them out of your life.

I don’t get it: if the soft drink is calorie-free, how can it be bad?

When it’s all said and done, the food that has artificial sweeteners is bad for you. In fact, you’ll be better off using the equivalent products that have sugar. Again, the big risk here is you liver. If you spend all your time drinking diet sodas, you’re going to do a lot of harm to it. This is why I steer people toward all natural alternatives to sugar-free food products. These will get the job done without putting your internal organs at risk.

I heard you talk about how some dairy products are good and others are bad. What does this mean?

Pasteurized dairy products make you fat. That’s the simple truth. You need to start using raw dairy products.

I have a problem footing the bill for all the organic food you want me to buy. I’m not sure if it’s going to make much of a difference in my program. Will it?

As they say, your health...priceless.

Let's go back to the liver again. All the chemical sprays used on foods to kill bugs are bad for your liver. All the drugs and hormonal additives fed to cattle make things worse for your liver too. When you liver gets stopped up, you’re going to have fat-burning problems and even increase the amount of fat in your body. The answer is yes. If you want to build a healthy lifestyle, you’re going to have to make the switch to organically produced foods.

Which fat burning supplement do you recommend?

You should not be taking any of the fat burning supplements that are on the market. Even if you get some metabolic stimulation from taking the pills, you need to beware because most people will start gaining weight as soon as they get off the pills. To avoid problems with your metabolism, skip the pill intake and start eating healthy proteins during the day.

Tell me more about the food that is poisonous to the body and how to spot them.

If you want to get a real shock, just study what is in the food that most people are eating these days. You’ll find chemicals directly or indirectly added to almost everything at your typical supermarket. The worst things to look for are the hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup that are in many products. Look for these offenders in processed food, much of which comes in packaged goods that are intended to keep them “fresh.” The problem is that these ingredients contribute to the accumulation of excess fat and are contrary to the fitness goals most people have.

Here are some of the physiological questions I get…

Does your program cover what food to eat to maintain a good metabolic response in the body?
Yes. Your metabolism is directly related to the food you eat. When your metabolism isn’t working properly, you have lost an important ally in the battle to improve your body composition. I include training tools that help you learn what kinds of food contribute to fat burning and what kind of foods build fat. Fat Loss Factor is designed to teach people to have an overall healthy lifestyle.

Is a fat-free regimen a good way to get started on weight loss?

No. In fact, you will probably find examples all around you where people on that kind of diet have actually gained weight. The important thing to do is make sure you get the good kind of fat to keep your body running right. It seems weird that you have to include fat in your diet in order to lose fat, but it’s true. Also stay with natural fats, not the poison that comes with the fries and burgers at the fast food restaurant.

I have read Fat Loss Factor and now I recognize that I need to do something to boost my energy. What do you recommend?

Try some naturally raised whole eggs, dark poultry meat, and health fat.

What is involved in learning my metabolism type and is it something I need to know?

Typing your metabolism is the process of learning how you respond to different kinds of food. By learning what foods give your body the best results, you can target your nutrition plan accordingly. You need to get as much efficiency as possible from every segment of your life, and this is one way to do it with your diet.

I want to stop eating. That will help me lose weight – right?

Wrong. You are going to find that your metabolism will adapt to the reduced food intake and then you will experience even less weight loss. In fact, part of the starvation response causes the body to retain fat, so this is not an approach that will work for you.

Why is it that corporations are allowed to market and sell food that contains dangerous poisons in it?

It boils down to cold hard cash. That’s what almost everyone is after. The problem is that some drug and food companies don’t care what the chemicals do to your body. It’s a shame too. Shouldn’t you be able to count on medicine being good for you rather than bad? Why can’t we have fresh food without all the toxins? The truth is that they will market what they can sell, and if it’s bad things people want, most companies will go ahead and let them buy them. Healthy eating won’t make billionaires, but it could make millions of people healthier so they can have better lives. Arm yourself with healthy nutritional information today.

You can hear Dr. Charles himself at "The Fat Loss Factor" -- CLICK HERE to learn more

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Panic Attacks, Comfort Foods, and Carb Cravings: It All Makes Perfect Sense

I’d like to present what I believe is need-to-know information for panic and anxiety sufferers. I don’t think it’s front page news that what we eat and drink has great impact upon the onset and intensity of panic and anxiety. And one of the most prolific examples is the ingestion of food and drink loaded with simple sugars, a.k.a. simple carbohydrates. Now, one might think staying away from potential trouble would be an easy decision to make; however, as we all know, it all too often isn’t. And here’s why.

Let’s first review a bit of physiology. Something known as the HPA Axis is the integrated functioning of the brain’s hypothalamus and pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys. In concert, they manage our reactions to stress and regulate body functions such as mood, digestion, immunity, sexuality, and energy usage. Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), produced and secreted by the hypothalamus, stimulates the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) by the pituitary gland. The pituitary, in turn, sends a message to the adrenal glands to secrete hormones known as glucocorticoids, most notably cortisol. And it’s cortisol, the “stress hormone,” that launches a very animated blood sugar and blood pressure popping response to stress. This response ultimately leads to norepinephrine (noradrenaline) flipping the switch on our fight/flight response.
 
I believe it makes perfect sense that what we just reviewed would ramp-up the participation in compulsive and pleasurable activities. And within the context of this article, we’re talking about the ingestion of simple sugars, as well as fats. Indeed, “comfort foods.” Now, cortisol stimulates abdominal fat storage. This particular type of fat build-up actually generates a signal to inhibit the presence of what are known as the catecholamines; most notably norepinephrine, epinephrine (adrenaline), and dopamine, as well as CRH. And this holds the potential to make us more physically, mentally, and emotionally at ease. Ah, the beauty of overindulging in comfort foods.

The bottom-line is, consciously or not, people consume comfort foods in an effort to calm stress, hoping for an elevation in mood and a reduction in anxiety. And, no doubt, eating these foods can flat-out cheer one up, making them function and feel one heck of a lot better. But, again, there’s a price to pay in the currency of abdominal obesity. I guess we knew that, didn’t we. And as unfortunate as it may be, this particular type of obesity is strongly associated with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and death (ouch). Now, if you think about it, if one lived in a culture where ongoing access to comfort foods was low, you could make the case for the benefits of occasional munching in an effort to reduce anxiety and stress, and elevate mood. However, access to comfort foods isn’t an issue in the good old U.S.ofA. So, habitually attempting to relieve stress, anxiety, and the blues by pounding comfort foods may certainly make us feel better, but it just isn’t congruent with a long and happy life.

Now, let’s increase the intensity level of the consumption of comfort foods and talk about carbohydrate cravings or sugar cravings. As the name implies, this is the sudden and very overwhelming drive to consume carbohydrate-rich foods, such as breads, cakes, chocolate, cereal, cookies, crackers, fruit, ice cream, chips, pretzels, sugary soft-drinks, and popcorn. Now, sugar substitutes, alcohol, and monosodium glutamate (M.S.G.) are known to trigger carb cravings; however, they’re most often caused by a rebound biochemical reaction to low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), along with that infamous one-two punch we know all too well by now, low mood and stress. For the record, I find it very interesting that many of the depression sufferers I see also report being hypoglycemic. Hmmm. Well, let me ask you a question. Ever bit your nails off over the desire to pound carbs when you were bummed or stressed? Come on, fess up.   

Look, this stuff can become very confusing, very fast; so how ‘bout we do a slow walk-through with regard to the workings of this carb-craving, fluctuating blood sugar business. As we take our walk, let’s operate under the assumption that low blood sugar, depression, and stress are in-the-moment presenting problems. Okay? So, bammo, in response to these troublesome issues we find ourselves hitting the junk-carbs fast and furiously. As a result, our blood sugar level, and perhaps our mood, increases appreciably. Well, the surge in blood sugar leads to an increase in the production of insulin. Insulin, produced in the pancreas and known as the “hunger hormone,” now becomes a major player in that it manages the metabolism of carbohydrates, most notably glucose, a simple carbohydrate/sugar. The hormone, glucagon, also produced in the pancreas, plays an important role as well, as it’s released when glucose levels are low. Glucagon causes the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose and release it into the bloodstream. This action is in opposition to that of insulin, which directs our cells to absorb glucose from the blood.

Well, when this rush of glucose hits home, insulin reacts with great speed and force, resulting in an immediate downward surge in blood sugar levels. This dynamic is known as functional or reactive hypoglycemia. For the record, the medical term for this business of excess insulin release after eating and drinking carb-rich foods and drinks is post-prandial reactive hyperinsulinemia, or just plain old hyperinsulinism. Some would say the term dysglycemia ought to be incorporated to account for unstable, not just low, glucose levels. At any rate, hyperinsulinism leads to reactive hypoglycemia. Whoa, huh?

Well, the really bad news is chronic hyperinsulinism can result in insulin resistance. And when that happens our bodies shut-down, if you will, in that insulin can no longer facilitate the introduction of food energy, in the form of glucose, to muscle, nerve, and organ cells. As this occurs, on come the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms of low blood sugar – more intense carb cravings, irritability, fatigue, trembling, headache, weakness, feeling faint, confusion, and the potential for panicky reactions to these and any number of internal and external stimuli. It’s interesting to note that epinephrine (adrenaline) is also playing a part in the presentation of these symptoms, as the body secretes excess amounts of it in an emergency reaction to alarmingly low blood sugar levels.

Oh, and by the way, since blood sugar can’t get to its targeted cells, it ends up being railroaded into fat cells, and that equals poundage. Worse yet, as this manic insulin ride continues, even the fat cells will ultimately shut-down; and with no place left to go blood sugar holes-up in the bloodstream. And that equals type 2 diabetes, often referred to as adult-onset diabetes.

Lots of information here, I know. But, haven’t you ever wondered why you may be pounding carbs? And what about the times you’d walk through a blizzard to secure chocolate? Well, I know these questions were of great interest to me, and that’s what led to my research. There’s no doubt in my mind that each and every panic and anxiety sufferer is all the better for understanding these dynamics.

After a winning bout with panic disorder, a career in the business world, and a part-time job working with socially challenged adolescents, Bill found his life's passion and work. So he earned his master's degree and counseling credentials, and is doing all he can to lend a hand to those having a tough time.

Bill authored a panic disorder education and recovery eworkbook entitled, "Panic! ...and Poetic Justice," which is available on his website and online store for immediate download. Also available is information regarding a collection of poems he wrote along his panic disorder and recovery journey entitled, "The Poetry of My Life." And now he's managing a blog. Lots of good stuff going on and much more to come.

In addition to doing psychiatric emergency work, Bill continues to do a lot of writing. He's conducted numerous mental health workshops for non-profit organizations and remains available to present more. Bill is a national and local member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (N.A.M.I.).