Too much candy can cause addiction

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US researchers confirm the addiction to sweets on the basis of a study

Candy is addictive. US researchers have found that excessive candy consumption is like obsessive addictive behavior, such as in drug addicts. "Too much very high-calorie food is addictive," said Paul Johnson of the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter (Florida / USA).

Compulsive food similar to an addiction Paul Johnson and Paul Kenny from the Scripps Research Institute have served treats to normal and overweight rats as part of a study, but at the same time made the animals uncomfortable when consumed. "We looked at how much tasty food obese and normal-weight rats consume when they have to endure an uncomfortable stimulus," Johnson said of the scientists' approach. In the course of their investigation, the researchers were able to determine that certain receptors were less active in the brains of the very overweight rats, which forced the animals to continue to eat, while the other rats refrained from eating tasty food because of the unpleasant stimuli. The obsessive eating of the overweight rats was accompanied by reduced activity of the dopamine D2 receptors, which form the receiving unit for signals from the neurotransmitter dopamine and are part of the brain's reward system. The response of the D2 receptors to candy consumption is similar to the processes that take place in the brain of drug addicts, the US researchers reported. Her research has shown that excessive candy consumption is somewhat addictive over time, Johnson said.

Liking and wanting as regulators of candy addiction Health scientist Erika Clark from the University of Buffalo in a study with a total of 53 participants who were normal weight, overweight or obese (obese) came to similar results as Johnson and Kenny. Erika Clark and her team had spent 14 days investigating how the daily consumption of high-calorie snacks such as chips or candy bars affects the participants' preference for these foods. The researchers came to the conclusion that if they consumed the high-calorie snacks every day, the food tasted less and less. However, the craving for chips or chocolate bars did not go down as much as the taste preferences. The opposite development was particularly evident among the overweight participants: the desire for high-calorie snacks increased significantly. "All stimuli that promise joy or pleasant effects, such as alcohol, drugs, sexuality or eating, are amplified by neuronal reactions in the brain," said Martina de Zwaan, head of the psychosomatic and psychotherapeutic department at the University Hospital in Erlangen, Germany. The expert further stated that "primarily (...) enjoyment - the so-called liking - (...) motivates us." But there is also "wanting, which is not about the pleasure itself, but about the motivation to get something, ”emphasized de Zwaan.

Restraint in sweets consumption Liking and wanting are two sides of the same coin, which usually go hand in hand, explained the specialist at the University Hospital Erlangen. In this way, the consumption of chocolate or cookies by reducing the liking usually leads to a reduction in consumption of the high-calorie snacks after some time. For some people, however, wanting seems to have become independent and has played such a dominant role that it can be compared to the effects of (drug) addiction, de Zwaan explained. Therefore, a certain degree of caution should always be exercised when consuming sweets and other high-calorie snacks so that the sweets are not completely consumed.

If consumption is not exaggerated or a reasonably normal eating behavior is followed, the corresponding control loops do not even start, explained de Zwaan and, moreover, advised not to fight every additional gram of body weight with a diet. Such diets unnecessarily increase desire or wanting, since the extra pounds accumulated over the holidays would often disappear on their own over time, according to the expert at the University Hospital in Erlangen.

Dietary changes to combat food cravings In the long term, the craving for sweets can also be managed from a naturopathic perspective through a targeted dietary change and improved self-awareness. However, according to the experts, the psychologically motivated cravings, i.e. eating to reduce or avoid negative feelings, should also be taken into account. The psychologically motivated craving manifests itself in an irresistible appetite that regularly occurs in situations of loneliness, fear, sadness, etc. Uses, where the subsequent food intake gives, for example, a feeling of comfort, security or protection. A thorough (laboratory) examination by the naturopath or a naturopathic doctor on the compulsive eating behavior of the patients therefore first focuses on the possible causes of the recurring cravings. Then a specific treatment is initiated, which in naturopathy can begin, for example, with a detoxification course to reduce the appetite for sweets.

Causes of cravings
However, the causes of cravings can vary widely. Excessive colonization of the intestine with yeasts, especially Candida albicans, can lead to appropriate eating behavior. Therefore, in the event of permanent binge eating, a doctor should be consulted to examine the causes in more detail. However, by changing eating habits with the aim of stabilizing blood sugar levels, those affected can already achieve a lot in self-therapy. Regulated meals are recommended, preferably without snacks based on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, as these do not unnecessarily raise blood sugar levels, are rich in nutrients and in turn stimulate the metabolism. As healthy foods that meet the need for "sweets" in naturopathy e.g. Carrots, cucumbers, Jerusalem artichokes, whole grain bread, ginger tea and (small amounts) honey. (fp)

Also read:
Cravings for sweets - cravings
Are vitamins useful in sweets?
Warning of artificial colors in sweets

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