Saturday, July 29, 2006

Addiction to Carbohydrates and Gluten Underlies Excess Weight Gain and Obesity

Addiction to Carbohydrates and Gluten Underlies Excess Weight Gain and Obesity:

As many as 75 percent of overweight and obese people in the U.S. may be addicted -- through poor eating habits - to either carbohydrates or the protein called gluten, which is found in all wheat, rye, barley and oat products.

Like any addiction, these cravings are unhealthy and problematic. They take the form of either an irresistible craving for carbohydrate-rich foods such as desserts, candies and junk food, or gluten products like breakfast cereals, breads and pasta.

'Addiction and obesity both run in families, and...research also suggests that the environment – mainly, how often you're exposed to an addictive substance – can shift brain neurochemistry, increasing the likelihood of addiction.'
- Addicted to food? How to break your habit, Daryn Eller,
Carbohydrate-rich foods make up a large part of the modern-day diet and include bagels, cakes, chocolate, cookies, crackers, pastry, fruit and fruit juice, ice cream, potato chips, potatoes, pretzels, rice, pie, popcorn and sugar-sweetened beverages. In addition, carbohydrate 'act-alikes' such as sugar substitutes, alcoholic beverages and monosodium glutamate may trigger intense, recurring carbohydrate cravings, which can lead to excess weight and obesity.

Proteins such as gluten result in the production of substances that can have addictive, narcotic-like effects. These substances are called 'exorphins.' Hydrolyzed wheat gluten, for example, has been found to prolong intestinal transit time and may contribute to weight gain. The effects of exorphins on the brain tell a person to keep eating gluten products, which, in turn, could contribute to the mental disturbances and appetite disorders that routinely accompany food-related illnesses.

Many food 'addicts' are right to suspect there is a physical reason that makes them crave carbohydrates and put weight on easily. But the underlying cause of their struggles often goes undiagnosed and untreated by the medical profession."

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