Many have decided to start out the new year by pursuing a weight loss goal. This can be easier for some than others due to cravings or food addiction. The occurrence and intensity of these are dependent on the individual. Interestingly, this may not be solely based on one’s ability to say “no” to one more left-over cookie. Having a greater understanding of what triggers food cravings and what fuels addictive habits can be highly beneficial in treating and avoiding them.
Biologically, there is little difference between food and drug addiction. Food, much like highly addictive drugs such as heroin, cocaine and nicotine, stimulates a response from the body’s reward system located in the brain. This system provides the body and mind the motivational push to achieve goals. Additionally, this system also promotes completion of tasks that benefit one’s survival, like eating. Dopamine is the chemical responsible for that mood boosting sensation we feel when completing a challenging task or doing something positive for the body. Without dopamine, satisfaction is hard to come by.
Dopamine and Food
One of the primary factors in addiction, food-related or otherwise, is the neurotransmitter dopamine. This may be the reason one pursues consumption of comforting junk foods when they are feeling depressed or lonely; common symptoms of a dopamine deficit. Reduced dopamine levels leave one to be much more susceptible to addictive habits including excessive eating. In part this is because modern junk foods can induce a level of feel-good chemicals unachievable through consumption of naturally produced foods alone. Normally the body releases a small amount of mood boosting chemicals when we eat to reward acquisition of nutrition. However, when one eats a lot of junk food, such as potato chips, ice cream, or candies, the body experiences a dopamine high that is not indicative of the nutrients acquired.
Repeated incidence of and overindulging in dopamine spikes can leave one’s dopamine receptors deadened. Eventually, the body must produce large amounts of dopamine to achieve basic craving satisfaction. This is known as tolerance. Ultimately, one will experience malaise and low-energy when they don’t have their food fix to spike dopamine levels. The body’s desire to acquire dopamine is part of the reason why people become caught in food addiction. When eating becomes the only means to feel happy or satisfied, unhealthy reliance on food becomes the only option. Further dependence on the satisfying qualities of food can induce severe cravings.
Cravings and Cues
Someone may experience cravings even though they are not hungry. A craving is based on satisfying a demand of dopamine rather than fulfilling a desire for nutritional substance. Depending on the degree of addiction, one’s cravings can be so intense that it leads them to outright ignore their own dietary rules. Cravings can manifest themselves in a variety of ways, known as cues. Environmental cues can be anything ranging from seeing an advertisement for pizza or catching a whiff of what’s cooking in the food truck on the corner. Emotional states, like depression, anxiety and loneliness can also trigger food cravings. Avoiding triggers and keeping problem foods out of one’s environment, especially one’s home, can help prevent food cues and triggers. Additionally, making sure the body has adequate levels of dopamine helps prevent severe cravings brought on by chemical deficiency.
Beating Addiction with Dopamine
Research is being conducted on the efficacy of targeting the dopamine system as a means of treating addiction. In a study done on the interaction between dopamine and alcohol dependency, it was found that dopamine did assist in patient’s ability to resist cravings and reliance on alcohol. As the study data suggested, addictions are tightly connected to the body’s handling of dopamine. Because alcohol and food addictions share similarities in regards to dopamine, the findings of this research may be representative in treating food addiction as well. The findings suggest that through proper supplementation and treatment of the dopamine system, addiction can be more effectively treated.
Incorporating healthy doses of dopamine into one’s diet by means of supplementation can severely cut craving intensity and reduce junk food dependency. Crave Control, offered by HoltraCeuticals, is formulated with the intention of reducing the impact of all cravings and addictions, not just those associated with food. Because addictions utilize the same neurological pathways in the brain, it is possible to treat a broad variety of addictions with the same supplement. Instead of releasing a large singular dose of dopamine all at once, this supplement releases smaller amounts of dopamine to combat deficiencies that drive one to search for that dopamine fix by overeating and indulging in poor quality foods.
There are various components found in Crave Control that are particularly beneficial in curbing one’s cravings. This can be a significant asset in achieving one’s weight loss goals.
- 5-Hydroxotryptophan (5-HTP) is included to counteract serotonin depletion. As a necessary element in the production of various neurotransmitters, including serotonin, 5-HTP helps reduce the risk of pursuing one’s cravings.
- DL-phenylalanine is an amino acid that, when taken before meals, assists in promoting sensations of fullness. By satiating one’s perceived hunger and desire to eat more, this chemical helps prevent overeating.
- Mucuna pruriens contains a biochemical known as L-DOPA, which is a precursor to dopamine. In supplemental form, mucuna can traverse the blood-brain barrier, thereby improving dopamine levels and regulation. Additionally, studies have found the mucuna extract promotes other mood boosting neurotransmitters including serotonin and norepinephrine. Crave Control contains mucuna pruriens standardized for 95% L-DOPA, which gives a significant boost to dopamine levels in the brain.
Because cravings are driven by a dopamine deficiency, achieving a better chemical balance through supplementation grants greater ability to combat addiction and cravings. If you or someone you know is struggling with a particularly hard-to-kick habit, consider implementing or suggesting a dopamine supplement.