Friday, June 28, 2013

Food really is addictive?

I suppose anything you really like could be called addictive.  I really liked my Meccano (erector) set when I was a kid. I spent hours with it.  Was I addicted to it?  Those who say so are just attempting to distort language for political purposes.

And rather than say that food mimics the effect of drugs, would it not be more accurate to say that drugs mimic the effect of food? Food came first

Food could be as addictive as class-A drug heroin and nicotine in cigarettes, claims a new study.

Researchers have found substance abuse and food with a high glycaemic index - such as white bread and potatoes - may trigger the same brain mechanism tied to addiction.

Eating highly processed carbohydrates can cause excess hunger and stimulate brain regions involved in reward and cravings, according to the study.

The findings suggest that limiting 'high-glycaemic index' foods could help obese people avoid overeating.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, investigated how food intake is regulated by dopamine-containing pleasure centres in the brain.

Study leader Dr David Ludwig, of Boston Children’s Hospital in the United States, said: 'Beyond reward and craving, this part of the brain is also linked to substance abuse and dependence, which raises the question as to whether certain foods might be addictive.'

To examine the link, researchers measured blood glucose levels and hunger, while also using MRI scanning to observe brain activity during the crucial four-hour period after a meal, which influences eating behaviour at the next meal.

Evaluating patients in such a time frame is one novel aspect of the study, whereas previous studies have evaluated patients with an MRI soon after eating.

Twelve overweight or obese men ate test meals designed as milkshakes with the same calories, taste and sweetness.

The two milkshakes were essentially the same; the only difference was that one contained rapidly digesting - high-glycaemic index - carbohydrates, and the other slowly digesting - low-glycaemic index - carbs.

After the participants consumed the high-glycaemic index milkshake, they experienced an initial surge in blood sugar levels, followed by sharp crash four hours later.

This decrease in blood glucose was associated with excessive hunger and intense activation of the nucleus accumbens, a critical brain region involved in addictive behaviour.

Previous studies of food addiction have compared patient reactions to drastically different types of foods, such as high-calorie cheesecake versus boiled vegetables.

Another novel aspect of the new study is how a specific dietary factor that is distinct from calories or sweetness, could alter brain function and promote overeating.

Dr Ludwig said: 'These findings suggest that limiting high-glycaemic index carbohydrates like white bread and potatoes could help obese individuals reduce cravings and control the urge to overeat.'

Though the concept of food addiction remains controversial, the findings suggest that more interventional and observational studies be done.

Dr Ludwig said additional research will hopefully inform clinicians about the subjective experience of food addiction, and how they can potentially treat obese patients and regulate their weight.


HRT does NOT affect a woman's memory or increase her risk of developing dementia

The rehabilitation of HRT goes on

Women taking hormone replacement therapy following the menopause are not at a higher risk of developing dementia, a study has claimed.

HRT, which is used to treat the symptoms of menopause, including hot flushes, has been previously linked with declining memory and a doubled risk of developing dementia.

Researchers followed a group of more than 1,300 women between the ages of 50 and 55 who were on HRT medication called conjugated equine oestrogens (CEOs).

The researchers, based at the Women's Health Centre of Excellence for Research at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem,  North Carolina, gave one set of women placebos and one the HRT treatment, then studied the results after seven years.

They found no overall differences in the brain function scores between women taking the HRT treatment and the placebos, CBS reports.

Dr Mark Espeland, a professor of biostatistics, led the research, and said it proved giving the hormones at an earlier age of menopause could see more benefits than prescribing them later.

'Our findings provide reassurance that CEO-based therapies when administered to women earlier in the postmenopausal period do not seem to convey long-term adverse consequences for cognitive function.'

They did note some minor speech disturbances in some of the women taking CEOs longer-term. But they attributed that to 'chance' and reported that it was not statistically significant.

Around 1.5 million British women use HRT, which relieves symptoms of the menopause such as hot flushes and mood swings by replacing the body's declining supply of oestrogen.

Researchers had previously claimed the risk of suffering from mental decline could be doubled by taking hormone replacement therapy.

The warning came in 2003, from a study by scientists in the U.S. who sought to determine if healthy women should turn to HRT to combat ill-health in later life, not just menopausal symptoms.

Fewer than 3 per cent of women in Britain aged 65 and older are on the therapy.

The research was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.


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