Category Archives: behaviors

On Sugar Addiction from Dr. Frank Lippman

I hope you enjoy this post which you can see in full at:

http://www.goop.com/journal/do/103/overcoming-sugar-addiction 

What we should know about sugar
from Dr. Frank Lipman

As a serious sugar addict still struggling with my “addiction” I know first hand how difficult it is to get off sugar, and to stay off it. Part of the reason it’s so hard to kick the habit is that over time our brains actually become addicted to the natural opioids that are triggered by sugar consumption. Much like the classic drugs of abuse such as cocaine, alcohol and nicotine, a diet loaded with sugar can generate excessive reward signals in the brain which can override one’s self-control and lead to addiction.

One study out of France, presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, showed that when rats (who metabolize sugar much like we do) were given the choice between water sweetened with saccharin and intravenous cocaine, 94% chose the saccharin water. When the water was sweetened with sucrose (sugar), the same preference was observed—the rats overwhelmingly chose the sugar water. When the rats were offered larger doses of cocaine, it did not alter their preference for the saccharin or sugar water. Even rats addicted to cocaine, switched to sweetened water when given the choice. In other words, intense sweetness was more rewarding to the brain than cocaine.

The American Psychiatric Association defines addiction to include three stages: bingeing, withdrawal and craving. Until recently, the rats had only met two of the elements of addiction, bingeing and withdrawal. But recent experiments by Princeton University scientist, Professor Bart Hoebel, and his team showed craving and relapse as well. By showing that excess sugar led not only to bingeing and withdrawal, but to cravings for sweets as well, the final critical component of addiction fell into place and completed the picture of sugar as a highly addictive substance.

In stark contrast to this clinical assessment is the fact that, for most of us, “something sweet” is a symbol of love and nurturance. As infants, our first food is lactose, or milk sugar. Later on, well-intended parents (me included) reward children with sugary snacks, giving them a “treat,” turning a biochemically harmful substance into a comfort food. We become conditioned to need something sweet to feel complete or satisfied, and continue to self-medicate with sugar as adults, using it to temporarily boost our mood or energy. But as any addict knows, one quick fix soon leaves you looking for another—each hit of momentary satisfaction comes with a long-term price.

The bottom line is that sugar works the addiction and reward pathways in the brain in much the same way as many illegal drugs. And, like other drugs, it can destroy your health and lead to all sorts of ailments including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain, and premature aging. Sugar is basically a socially acceptable, legal, recreational drug, with deadly consequences—and like with any drug addiction, you have to have a flexible but structured plan to beat it.

Frank Lipman MD, is the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in NYC and the author of REVIVE; Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again (2009) (previously called SPENT) and TOTAL RENEWAL; 7 key steps to Resilience, Vitality and Long-Term Health (2003). He is the creator of Eleven Eleven Wellness, Guided Health Solutions, leading edge integrative health programs to help you feel better than ever.

 

Sugar Addiction is Real

What is an addiction? Merriam-Webster defines an addiction as follows:

noun \ə-ˈdik-shən, a-\

: a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble)

: an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something 

:  the quality or state of being addicted

:  compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal;broadly :  persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.

If you, like millions of others, find that sugar creates a persistent and undeniable need for more sugar, you are likely addicted. Both in the biological and psychological realms.

Sugar is a major part of our western food industry, our western food traditions, and it’s hard to avoid. But for many of us, any sugar leads to persistent cravings for more sugar, and therefore we are for all intents and purposes addicted

I have offered other blog posts about the problems of staying away from sugars, especially in regard to weight loss, but more important are the harmful affects of glycation that sugars cause at the cellular level.

There are many reasons to get control of sugar, but as we grow older we more than ever appreciate that part of what we think of as “natural” effects of aging, are in fact the results of decades of poor diet. Sugars and starches from grains, are the worst offenders. Dementia, Alzheimer’s, declining joint functions related to arthritis, bone loss, fuzzy thinking, wrinkling  and thinning skin, and so forth.

If you find that it is next to impossible for you to stay away from sweets, then consider that abstaining is the best way. We can’t have just a little of these sugars/starches without the concomitant insulin reaction that we know as cravings. If you stall or struggle at weight loss, chances are high that the problems stem with what you are eating. Eating sugar or starchy foods creates a vicious cycle of cravings. The only way to stop an addiction is to actually STOP what causes it.

No one likes to think s/he can’t control a substance, but most people who are plagued by the addictive nature of cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping, and sugar, among others, know that there is no such things as “a little.”  To be free of any addictive substance or behavior means abstaining.

Yours in reality,

Nan aka Sugarbaby

Dr. Aseem Malhotra’s Introduction at “The Cereal Killers” film Premier

How good it is to see more and more documentaries showing the grave dangers of our overly processed, high sugar-starch diets.  Processed foods, faux foods, genetically modified foods, sugars and starches in our diets at rates which would have made a person in 1900 immediately ill.

 The message is slowly getting out that we are killing ourselves with our food choices.

VIDEO: Dr. Aseem Malhotra’s Introduction At The Cereal Killers Premier in London: http://youtu.be/mUexSrhFJbs

Frequency of Eating

The past month I have been reading many studies and blogs regarding the frequency of eating in relation to fat storage, and concluded that it is best for anyone with struggles in losing weight, especially people like myself who were/are insulin resistant, to avoid eating too many times a day. Apparently the more often we eat the more fat is stored versus being burned for energy, so if you are a snacker which I have been much of my later adult life, you may want to try a week or two of eating only at 2-3 set times during the day, and taking care not to overeat at those times.

For many years, and even now, a great many health organizations, nutritionists, and doctors suggested frequent smaller meals to keep the blood sugar a bit more level, but for some of us this is simply an invitation to eat too much over the course of the day. While we in the hflc community know that the old calories-in-calories-out rational of weight gain or loss is outmoded, and simply wrong, it is still true that if you take in more than your body requires for basic functioning, then your body will store the excess as fat.

For a good review of the latest study out of the Netherlands on feeding frequency:

http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2014/03/human-study-links-high-meal-frequeny-to.html

Yours in learning,

Nan aka Sugarbaby

Ever More Studies are Showing that Sugar Affects the Brain Like Opiods

Those of us who have struggled with sugar don’t need a study to tell us that there is something different about sugar than other foods. Dr. Yudkin in the 1970s showed the addictive properties of sugar, and was bold enough to say that had sugar been discovered now it would be a controlled substance. Below is a link to yet another study that lifts up the problem with over use of sugar.  While some people can handle sugar and not allow it to become a dependency, just like there are people who can smoke and drink without becoming dependent, there are some people who find they cannot stay away from the powerful draw of sugar. What starts as some overeating can eventually lead to binges, so there is a progressive element to sugar addiction that’s also present in alcohol abuse.

No one likes to think they are addicted to anything, but for those of us who have found ourselves constantly craving more sugar-starchy food even though we have just eaten a big meal know that there is something we have ceased to be able to control when it comes to those highly refined carbohydrates.

Once we accept we can’t have a little and go our merry way, the healing begins. For me it is strict abstaining from sugars, most starches, and artificial sweeteners.  Sugar was the only thing in my life I could not control, and while it may not be how I expected to  find myself as I aged, at least now there is a plethora of information to support why we struggle with this substance, and why we need to avoid it long before we find ourselves under its control.

Yours in learning and acceptance,

Nan aka Sugarbaby

Here’s the link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=12055324&ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

Obes Res. 2002 Jun;10(6):478-88.

Evidence that intermittent, excessive sugar intake causes endogenous opioid dependence.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The goal was to determine whether withdrawal from sugar can cause signs of opioid dependence. Because palatable food stimulates neural systems that are implicated in drug addiction, it was hypothesized that intermittent, excessive sugar intake might create dependency, as indicated by withdrawal signs.

RESEARCH METHODS AND PROCEDURES:

Male rats were food-deprived for 12 hours daily, including 4 hours in the early dark, and then offered highly palatable 25% glucose in addition to chow for the next 12 hours. Withdrawal was induced by naloxone or food deprivation. Withdrawal signs were measured by observation, ultrasonic recordings, elevated plus maze tests, and in vivo microdialysis.

RESULTS:

Naloxone (20 mg/kg intraperitoneally) caused somatic signs, such as teeth chattering, forepaw tremor, and head shakes. Food deprivation for 24 hours caused spontaneous withdrawal signs, such as teeth chattering. Naloxone (3 mg/kg subcutaneously) caused reduced time on the exposed arm of an elevated plus maze, where again significant teeth chattering was recorded. The plus maze anxiety effect was replicated with four control groups for comparison. Accumbens microdialysis revealed that naloxone (10 and 20 mg/kg intraperitoneally) decreased extracellular dopamine (DA), while dose-dependently increasing acetylcholine (ACh). The naloxone-induced DA/ACh imbalance was replicated with 10% sucrose and 3 mg/kg naloxone subcutaneously.

DISCUSSION:

Repeated, excessive intake of sugar created a state in which an opioid antagonist caused behavioral and neurochemical signs of opioid withdrawal. The indices of anxiety and DA/ACh imbalance were qualitatively similar to withdrawal from morphine or nicotine, suggesting that the rats had become sugar-dependent.

PMID:

 12055324

[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=12055324&ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

Losing the Taste for Sweet

I would have said at one time that it was impossible I would lose my taste for sweets, but to my surprise, after the last few years of very low carb eating, my taste for sweet has vastly diminished. Last night I was out to dinner with friends, I didn’t give the bread basket a second thought, then a dessert sampler was ordered for the table by one of my friends. I would have declined dessert if we had ordered individually. But, my friends are not on my low sugar-starch diet, and I don’t make a big deal when out with others.

So this big dessert platter with four desserts was put in the middle of the table. At one time I would have dived in and had my fair share, but instead I nabbed the strawberry settled on some whipped cream, had one tiny bite each of two of the desserts, an apple tart and a sticky pudding, and had no desire for more, indeed it was a ‘ho-hum’ experience. I just had no desire for any more. At the time I was not thinking much about it, but when I got home I realized what a different experience I just had from the years when I had to have my very own dessert in order to enjoy the meal.

So, take heart if you are still struggling with avoiding sweets. By maintaining good habits at home–no sweets live here–and avoiding most situations that are personal triggers, like convenience stores were for me, then given enough time, months to a couple years, we do gradually lose our super-sweetened palates and find pleasure in much healthier options. I make pumpkin custards, almond flour cup cakes, mousses, etc.,  sweetened only with a little bit of liquid stevia, and enjoy such treats as much or more than the old heavy sugar desserts.

All the negative issues with weight, inflammation in the cells, brain fog, and other such bad reactions to sugars-starches-artificial sweeteners, are enough to keep me on the path of good health which for me is anti-sugar.

Even when you fall off the wagon, and we all have, in the early days especially, take heart–it will get easier.

When you no longer feel deprived, you no longer want what is bad for you. To get to that point requires both habit changes and a change of mindset, but the good news is that it can be done.

Yours in learning,

Nan aka Sugarbaby

My Annual Winter Hibernation

I haven’t been blogging through the holidays, not because I have been so very busy, but that I am always one step from full blown hibernation through December until the middle of January. I don’t have SAD, seasonal affective disorder, which is associated with a low grade depression as less sun light is available. My issue is simply that I don’t want to do anything but sit in front of the fire reading, drinking many cups of tea, and sleeping a lot.

As a normally high energy person, I found this irritating during my clocking in years, since I couldn’t just go curl up whenever I wanted, but I was highly aware of my lower energy, and especially wanting to stay in bed or go to bed very early.  My theory is that this is a common evolutionary response that most people connect with the cold rather than the lack of sunlight, and it may be both, but it seems logical that our ancestors would have huddle together in their caves to preserve warmth and to preserve their energy stores aka fat levels.  They had worked very hard through the spring, summer, fall to put that energy on their bodies, and they knew that they would have to last out several months of very little food; obviously this would not be the case in warm regions, but true for those ancestors in the higher and lower regions of the globe.

A couple days ago I felt the lift of the lifting of the sun, and am now ready to get back to my normal activities.

I am happy to be reading that the no-sugar and low-sugar way of eating is getting more publicity with every day, which it great news. The doubters, along with those who benefit by our population being addicted to the sugars-starches-artificial sweeteners are not going to just step aside because the truth is getting some press. We still have to work at educating ourselves and those we care about if we want to have healthy lives unencumbered by the diseases of obesity.