Food as drugs
Food as drugs? Sound preposterous? Foods have been referred to as “the 21st century pharmacy “. Food is the most powerful and effective drug there is for effective weight control.
Every time you put a piece of food in your mouth, you are giving your body a very powerful set of highly specific instructions. Example. Antidepressants can take weeks, antibiotic’s days and alcohol just a few hours. However, food can take only minutes to have a profound effect on your brain. Certain foods release the powerful fat-loss hormones and block the actions of potent weight-gaining hormones. The right foods can change your body from a fat sucking behemoth to a strong, lean calorie- burning machine.
We all use food as a recreational drug. Recreational food can be more dangerous than recreational drugs. Sure, heroin and cocaine can kill you, but obesity and diets high in fat and sugars are known risk factors for heart disease, cancer, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome X. All known killers.
Obesity is now the No. 1 public health concern. Our genetic machinery is churning out record amounts of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Everyday people medicate themselves with cigarettes, pain killers, chocolate, cakes, crisps, cakes and on and on.
A diet high in fat and sugar releases natural opiates and other pleasure chemicals in the brain. The food you choose affects the production of brain chemicals that regulate your appetite and your mood. You may act a certain way- not because of your personality –but because of the foods you eat. You may feel great but this type of eating is killing you.
The key is building up high levels of serotonin in the brain. Add to that dopamine to energise yourself and you can adjust and control your mood and your appetite. Take, for example, the high – fat, high carbohydrate diet; this type of eating actually lowers the hormones that controls your positive moods and increases the hormones that makes us over eat. The brain of an obese person is different from that of a lean person.
Serotonin ; the master weight- control drug.
Everything gets better with increased levels of serotonin. Serotonin acts as the brains police, saying no to drugs, alcohol and binge –eating. With low levels of serotonin you stand little chance of making good decisions about what you eat. So how do you in crease your serotonin levels? With tryptophan! Tryptophan is a mood enhancing amino acid. The more tryptophan, the more serotonin. Large amounts of tryptophan will make you feel sleepy. The more carbohydrates you eat, the more tryptophan there is in your blood. But, there’s a catch. If you are overweight you may notice little effect of small amounts of carbohydrates on your mood. Overweight people must eat enormous amounts of carbohydrates to build up higher levels of serotonin. The types of carbohydrates you eat also affect your serotonin levels. Highly processed or refined carbohydrates are digested quickly and cause a large rise in blood sugar. These foods are the dietary equivalent of “crack” since you would have to hammer yourself all day to keep feeling good. We quickly get a response then we crash. Compare this to eating hard grains and foods high in fibre; these types of carbohydrates are absorbed slowly thus assuring you of a long lasting effect. By eating slowly digested carbs, you’ll continually make serotonin over the course of many hours.
Dopamine; the master energiser.
Dopamine is a hormone that creates mental energy. Dopamine will give you the energy and motivation to exercise longer. The amino acid, tyrosine is the key building block of dopamine. A rise in brain dopamine leads to increased energy and concentration. A protein rich meal is the most natural and practical means of increasing levels of tyrosine.
Tryptophan & Tyrosine; the balance
Tryptophan is calming while tyrosine is alerting. The more carbohydrates in a meal, the more tryptophan. The more protein, the more tyrosine. The key is to find the right balance. Hence the term “eats a balanced meal“.
Endorphins; natural ecstasy
The body has its own opiates, called endorphins, which produce a calm, euphoric high. The easiest way to make endorphins is by eating refined sugars or junk food. Sugar is the trigger. But there is a natural way to make endorphins and make your brain feel great without binging on junk food.
Exercise! You had to know this was coming. Exercise is the primary method of creating the ultimate feel good chemicals, endorphins. Just thirty minutes of exercise can give you the endorphin high of a chocolate bar or cake, but will last all day, not just minutes. And remember, you will continue to burn calories long after you stop exercising.
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