Junk food - as addictive as smoking??


In Eat for Health, Dr. Fuhrman states that food addiction is the main reason that people eat too much and become overweight.

A study presented at the Society for Neuroscience national meeting last week agrees with this statement. Scientists presented their findings – that high-fat, high-calorie foods are addictive.

These scientists allowed rats to eat readily available, processed junk foods (such as sausages, bacon, and assorted cakes) at will for 18 hours a day – after only five days, they noted evidence of reduced sensitivity in the pleasure centers of the brain, which is a classic indicator of addiction. The rats were increasingly motivated to eat the junk food, consuming about double the number of calories as control rats - they soon needed to consume more food in order to get the same “high.” Even when the rats were given a foot shock upon eating the unhealthy food, they continued to eat. They found these results are similar to those of addictive drugs such as heroin. 

The addictive properties of the unhealthy food essentially support two biologic mechanisms of addiction. One, dopamine stimulation and two withdrawal supporting Dr. Fuhrman's explanation  of toxic hunger – detox symptoms from an addiction to unhealthy, low-nutrient foods. Most people eat more unhealthy food in order to relieve the discomfort of these symptoms, interpreting them to be true hunger. But this simply postpones the detoxification process, and perpetuates a cycle of unhealthy eating.

Unlike the rats in the study, we know the difference between addictive low-nutrient foods, and health-promoting high-nutrient foods. Without understanding the science behind food addictions, it becomes nearly impossible for people to follow a healthy diet or lose weight. Are you a food addict or are you a nutritarian? Did Dr. Fuhrman's information enable you to lose your food addictions?  Let us know.



1. Johnson PM, Kenny PJ. Motivational drives in obesity: Evidence for addiction-like compulsive responding for palatable food. Program No. 550.1/X15. 2009 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. Chicago, IL: Society for Neuroscience, 2009. Online.



Your Hunger Can Help Keep You Healthy

A healthful diet can set you free from your food addictions and allow you to lose your toxic hunger. The food cravings will end and you will be able to stop overeating. Then, you will be back in contact with true hunger. When you achieve that, you will be able to accurately sense the calories you need to maintain your health and lean body.

I want to reiterate that as you adopt a high-nutrient eating-style by eating lots of healthy foods, it is common to go through an adjustment period in which you experience fatigue, weakness, lightheadedness, headaches, gas, and other mild symptoms. This generally lasts less than a week. Don’t panic or buy into the myth that to get relief you need more heavy or stimulating foods, such as high-protein foods, sweets, or coffee.

The feelings associated with these symptoms are not how true hunger feels. It is our unhealthy tendency to eat without experiencing true hunger that has caused us to become overweight in the first place. To have become overweight, a person’s food cravings, recreational eating, and other addictive drives that induce eating had to come into play. Poor nutrition causes these cravings, and nutritional excellence helps normalize or remove them. You will no longer need to overeat when you eat healthfully.

True hunger is not felt in the stomach or the head. When you eat healthfully and don’t overeat, you eventually are able to sense true hunger and accurately assess your caloric needs. Once your body attains a certain level of better health, you will begin to feel the difference between true hunger and just eating due to desire, boredom, stress, or withdrawal symptoms. While the best way to understand true hunger is to experience it for yourself. It has three primary characteristics:

  1. A sensation in your throat.
  2. Increased salivation.
  3. A dramatically-heightened taste sensation.

Not only will being in touch with true hunger help you reach your ideal weight, but you will feel well whether you eat or whether you delay eating or skip a meal.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

Aerobic Exercise Suppresses Appetite

When it comes to curbing hunger, aerobic exercise, like running on a treadmill, is more effective than non-aerobic activities, such as weightlifting. So says a new study in American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. Participants doing aerobic exercise had decreased ghrelin levels and increased peptide YY levels, meaning appetite was suppressed. The non-aerobic group also had lower ghrelin, but no significant change in peptide YY levels; HealthDay News reports.

Actually, sleep has a lot to do with ghrelin too. Previous research reveals not getting enough sleep boosts ghrelin levels and increases hunger and appetite, which can contribute to weight gain and obesity. Just another reason why getting sufficient sleep is a good idea!