BREAD AND CARBOHYDRATE ADDICTION
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© September 2011, The Center For Development
Overeating on wheat and bread is very common. This article may help explain the reasons why, and offers some possible solutions. Carbohydrate foods include starches, also called complex carbohydrates, such as breads, flour products, tortillas, rice, potatoes, corn chips, pastries, cookies, crackers and cakes.
It also includes simple carbohydrates or sweets such as sugars found in foods such as fruits, sweet juices, ice cream, candies, pies, honey, maple syrup and hundreds of prepared foods made with sugars.
These tendencies or addictions might be a better word, are so prevalent and so damaging that they merit a closer look. I am not sure of all the reasons for them, but here are some possible ones.
WHEAT AND BREAD SEEMS TO RELAX SOME PEOPLE
Our clients report that eating bread, wheat pasta and flour tortillas relaxes them or calms them down. When they do not eat these foods, they become tense or anxious.
The interesting reasons for this are discussed below.
CANDIDA ALBICANS INFECTION OR OTHER YEASTS
At times, a craving for sweets or starches may be associated with improper bowel flora such as the presence of candida albicans in the intestines. In these cases, the body has acclimated itself to the presence of intestinal yeast and has achieved a certain balance or harmony with these harmful organisms that often live in the small and large intestines. These organisms feed upon sugars and starches in most cases.
What occurs is that if one does not eat some carbohydrates each day, the yeast begins to die. This causes what is called a die-off or Herxheimer reaction. One begins to feel odd, hungry, anxious, tired, or some other annoying and perhaps frightening feelings. Often there is strong craving for starches or sweets. If these are eaten, the unpleasant withdrawal or die-off symptoms miraculously vanish and one feels “well” again. This can set up very powerful addictive tendency in which a person just knows they must eat some sugars and/or starches regularly to avoid unpleasant symptoms.
Mild alcohol poisoning. A possible mechanism that may cause the Herxheimer’s or die off reactions with yeast and may attract people to carbohydrates is that candida albicans and some other common yeasts that can live in our bodies produce alcohol. Alcohol in small doses is a sedative. Eating carbohydrates in many people produces more alcohol, which is calming and pleasant. Stopping carbohydrates decreases alcohol production and causes symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, which are not pleasant.
For more on this, read Candida Albicans Infection on this website.
SEROTONIN AND DOPAMINE ENHANCEMENT
Eating carbohydrate foods may stimulate the production of serotonin, and perhaps dopamine. These are neurotransmitter substances found in the brain and elsewhere that can cause pleasurable sensations, or reduce stress, pain or anxiety in the body.
This common metabolic imbalance causes energy fluctuations throughout the day and can cause many other symptoms such as anxiety, nervousness, mental confusion, tremors, shakiness, headaches, and even depression.
Basically, the body is no longer able to regulate its blood sugar level perfectly, so one experiences times during the day when the blood sugar dips too low. The cause is nutrient deficiencies, toxic metal accumulation, an imbalanced oxidation rate, improper diet and more. It can be corrected, but many people do not even realize they have it.
Eating something sweet or perhaps starchy is a quick fix for this condition, so this draws many people to these foods. It is easy to believe that one “needs” these foods because they offer such quick relief of the symptoms of hypoglycemia.
Unfortunately, eating sweets, in particular, but also many starches, just makes the condition worse because most are refined foods lacking the vitamins and minerals needed for the body to adequately regulate its glucose metabolism.
Unfortunately, the blood sugar soon decreases again, causing even more cravings for the carbohydrate foods in a vicious cycle. To break the cycle, one needs to eat adequate protein and perhaps quality fats and oils, but these usually will not give the instant pickup that one gets from carbohydrates. In addition, most people need targeted vitamin and mineral supplements and a complete healing program to restore the body’s sugar-handling ability. I estimate that at least 70% of the American and to a lesser extent other Westernized populations suffer from some degree of hypoglycemia. For more on this topic, read Hypoglycemia on this website.
A NEED FOR INSULIN
This is related to the cause above in some cases. Eating sweets and starches stimulate insulin release. This may have a pleasurable effect on some people, especially if insulin levels are somewhat low and resistance is present. This is also extremely common.
Millions of people are tired. For some of them, eating starches, and in some cases sugars, gives them a boost in energy. The causes of fatigue include impaired energy production in the cells of the body, low thyroid and adrenal hormone secretion or other problems with the hormone balance. Other causes are the presence of toxic metals, chronic infections, poisoning with toxic chemicals, nutrient deficiencies, lack of sleep, or overwork. For a more complete discussion of fatigue, read How To Increase Your Energy.
Adrenal exhaustion and slow oxidation. A very common reason for low energy and chronic low blood sugar is adrenal exhaustion or burnout. Cortisol and cortisone, the glucocorticoid hormones secreted by the adrenal glands, function to raise and maintain the blood sugar level. When these hormones are low, a person will experience chronic low blood sugar and fatigue. The condition is temporarily improved by eating sugars, fruits, juices or other sugar-containing items. Once again the effect is very temporary, but it can set up an addictive pattern. For more on this, read Adrenal Burnout Syndrome on this website.
Another factor that may attract some people to carbohydrate foods may be called Yin Disease. While this is a more esoteric concept for Westerners, it is a condition of the body in which the body is too expanded, cold, and usually ill. It is extremely common, especially among women. It is associated with weight gain, and cravings for fruit, sweets, chocolate and other yin or sugary foods. It is less involved in cravings for breads, although it is involved in cravings for sweet baked items such as cookies, pastries, pies and cakes.
A NEED FOR NUTRIENTS SUCH AS PROTEIN, FAT, ZINC, CHROMIUM, AND POSSIBLY INOSITOL
Today, most people are so nutritional depleted that they develop unusual food cravings in part because they are seeking various essential nutrients that are not present in high enough concentrations in their daily diets.
This can definitely explain some cases of overeating. It is thought, for example, that a deficiency of inositol may cause people to crave sugars. It is well-known that deficiencies of zinc and chromium, and perhaps manganese and vanadium, may be involved in sweet cravings due to the need for these nutrients in the metabolism of sugars or glucose.
A low intake of protein, in my experience, can definitely cause carbohydrate cravings in slow oxidizers. A low intake of fats and oils can definitely cause carbohydrate and sugar cravings in fast oxidizers.
These are protein fragments from the incomplete digestion of gluten found in wheat, oats, barley, and rye, primarily. They can be absorbed into the body if the intestine is “leaky”, which is common today. From there, they can find their way into the brain where they cause a sedating or morphine-like effect.
Interestingly, milk product can also have a similar effect on some people. Casein in milk breaks down into casomorphines, which can be similarly absorbed and have a sedative effect or other drug-like effects.
EFFECTS OF GLUTAMINE AND WHEAT GERM AGGLUTININ OR WGA
Wheat, in particular, and all wheat products are very high in the amino acid glutamine. This has a stimulating or inflammatory effect on the body.
Also, recent research has revealed another substance in wheat products called wheat germ agglutinin or WGA that is an excitotoxin and neurotoxin.
Eating wheat products, for some people, can give them an energy boost due to the presence of these chemicals. They may also cause an addictive effect because one wants more of the quick energy pickup they provide. Yet the weaken the body, which makes on more tire, that in turn increases the craving for these foods. This is a simple mechanism for addictions of all kinds.
To read more about wheat germ agglutinins, go to: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/07/04/can-eating-this-common-grain-cause-psychiatric-problems.aspx
For many people, carbohydrates and sweets are comfort foods. This means that they remind a person of good times in the past for some reason. Perhaps one was rewarded with sweets growing up, which is all too common. The texture, taste, odor of other qualities of foods may all play a role.
Food is actually quite a complex subject, so the emotional ties that people have to various foods cannot be underestimated in some cases. This does not mean that one cannot overcome these emotional attachments, but they should not be ignored or put aside lightly. Much more could be said about this topic, but the purpose of this article is just to introduce it at this time.
Many carbohydrate foods are convenient to eat such as breads, fruit, fruit juices, baked goods such as cakes and cookies and many others. This, no doubt, attracts a certain number of people to them simply to save time and energy.
In contrast, meats, eggs, and vegetables, which are the foods we much prefer, generally, require preparation or cooking. They also spoil much more easily which means they must be purchased fresh, in general, and prepared in a timely manner in order to eat them.
In an age of instant everything and gross ignorance of nutrition thanks to poor schooling, eating for convenience has become a way of life for millions of people worldwide.
OVERCOMING CARBOHYDRATE AND SWEET CRAVINGS AND ADDICTIONS
Most people who follow a complete nutritional balancing program will slowly, or perhaps rapidly, reduce their addiction or cravings for carbohydrates and breads. The reason this program is so effective is that it attacks the problem from many angles in a completely integrated way. These include:
Š Correcting the intestinal flora. This may require taking a probiotic such as Bio-K Original for a short time, but usually the diet and supplements we recommend are sufficient.
Š Balancing the major mineral ratios using diet and targeted nutritional supplements.
Š Improving the digestion and absorption of hundreds of nutrients by correcting the diet and the use of a powerful digestive aid, as well as improved eating habits.
Š Removing toxic metals and toxic chemicals from the body.
Š Relaxing the sympathetic nervous system.
Š Learning to live a balanced and a healthy lifestyle.
Š Restoring proper hydration and oxygenation of the body.
By using these methods in an integrated way, most people can easily overcome their addiction or cravings for carbohydrate foods and sweets. For more on nutritional balancing programs, read Introduction To Nutritional Balancing and other articles on this website.
Another article to read on this subject is Metabolic Syndrome on this website.