NUTRIENTS AND INGREDIENTS AND THE ROLE THEY PLAY IN FOOD ADDICTION AND WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
This article will examine the role played by some ingredients in food craving, food addiction, and weight management. The effect this has on the body when all are combined will also be X-rayed. The ingredients to be examined include:
Before proceeding to these, we will examine the concepts of food craving, food addiction and weight management.
Food craving refers to an intense, often irresistible desire for a particular kind of food. The desire is usually uncontrollable, and the hunger may not be quenched until the person gets the food desired. Some experts are of the opinion that food cravings usually last between 3 – 5 minutes. People have different experiences of cravings. People usually crave for junks or foods that are processed. In many cases, these foods are usually unhealthy and high in fat, salt and sugar.
Food cravings constitute an impediment to people who desire to maintain a healthy weight, or switch to a healthy diet. Physiologically, food craving is caused by brain regions that control pleasure, reward and memory. Hormonal imbalances, such as those involving serotonin, and leptin, also cause food cravings. There is the possibility that endorphins when released into the body may cause cravings. Endorphins are usually released into the body after meals, and this may mirror an addiction.
Food craving may also be triggered by emotions, especially if the person eats for comfort. Pregnant women for instance experience strong cravings. This may be caused by hormonal changes that can cause a disruption in smell and taste receptors.
It is also possible that cravings may have a connection with nutrients. The idea is that the body craves for certain foods because it is deficient in some nutrients. Cravings may be selective or nonselective.
Selective cravings refers to that for specific foods, which could be your best burger, or some special foods. Non selective cravings on the other hand refers to the desire to eat just anything edible. This could be due to hunger pangs or real intense hunger. It may also be due to taste. Intake of water helps combat intense non-selective cravings.
Food cravings may be reduced by reducing stress levels , drinking sufficient amount of water, getting enough sleep , intake of sufficient proteins , and chewing gum . Other tips may include a change of environment, regulating the portions of food you take each time, and avoiding hunger.
Food addiction refers to a condition where a person is severely addicted to a particular kind of food, usually junk, in the same way that a drug addict would be addicted to drugs. It usually involves the same brain regions, same neurotransmitters, and identical symptoms . Food addiction is actually a new term and quite controversial. There is not much research on the statistics of its prevalence, so we really do not know how common it is.
Food addiction is similar to other eating disorders such as bulimia, binge eating, compulsive overeating, and having some unhealthy relationship with food.
So how does addiction to food work?
Junk foods, and processed foods greatly influence the brain’s reward centers, involving dopamine and other such neurotransmitters .
The most problematic foods in this category include the typical junk foods and other foods that contain wheat, sugar or both.
Food addiction may not be as a result of lack of willpower or anything of the sort. Instead, it may be caused by the influence of dopamine on the brain’s biochemistry . Symptoms that are typical of food addicts include:
Weight management techniques refers to strategies that promotes consumption of healthy foods and engagement in physical activity . Maintaining a healthy weight is very important. If a person is obese, or underweight, then he or she may be at risk of some health disorders. Studies have shown that at least two-thirds of adults in the US are obese or overweight . Achieving a healthy weight helps one to control his blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. It also helps in the prevention of weight-related illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers and arthritis.
Overweight may be caused by excessive intake of food or leading a sedentary and physically inactive lifestyle. To maintain the weight, the energy intake must be equal to energy expenditure. What this implies is that calorie intake must equal calorie used in physical activity.
Effective weight-management strategies must include:
Extra calories with a well-balanced diet may promote healthy weight gain.
The effect of N-acetyl-cysteine on food addiction, food craving and weight management
N-acetyl-cysteine is making waves as one of the very important supplements to support recovery. There is a theory that compulsive behavior such as addiction to food is aided by the sub-optimal functioning of the glutaminergic system within the brain. This leads to an increase in cravings and compulsive behavior. It should be understood that N-acetyl-cysteine regulates the glutaminergic system in the brain, and so satisfies the reward centers of the brain, thus reducing compulsive behaviors and cravings.
A number of pilot studies, reports and randomized controlled trials have verified the effectiveness of N-acetyl-cysteine for food addiction, nicotine addiction, dependence on cannabis, cocaine addiction, and pathological gambling . An effective dose may be 2,000 to 4,000mg once per day at least 40 minutes before breakfast. Studies have shown that this supplement is best taken without food. Not doing so will expose it to the degrading activities of dietary protein. N-acetyl-cysteine usually has no side effects. However, a few patients have made complaints of gastric upset.
On weight management, N-acetyl-cysteine may aid weight loss via its ability to improve the cells sensitivity to insulin. This implies that with NAC, the body would be able to use insulin more efficiently.
The potential of NAC to affect insulin sensitivity may support weight loss because effective metabolism of insulin affects the ability of the body to use fat for energy. Insulin is released by the beta cells of the pancreas as sugar gets into the blood stream. If the body does not make proper use of it (the insulin), it remains in the blood stream. High levels of insulin impedes weight loss efforts because the hormone signals the body to keep the fat in storage.
Summarily, N-Acetyl-Cysteine aids fat loss by interfering with the interaction of insulin with the fat cells, hence preventing fat storage, and enhancing the mobilization of fat out of storage and used for energy at an accelerated rate .
The effect of citicoline on food addiction, food craving and weight management
Citicoline is a supplement – a dietary supplement. It plays a vital role in the support of neural functions such as mental alertness, focus and memory.
The origin of this supplement can be traced to Japan where it was used for treatment of stroke patients. The drug was later introduced in Europe where it was used for the treatment of cognitive impairments caused by poor circulation of blood to the brain. It is used as a dietary supplement in the United States.
Studies have shown that citicoline performs its functions by providing the building blocks for the synthesis of acetylcholine and phosphatidylcholine. Phosphatidylcholine plays vital roles in the production of membranes for brain cells. Acetylcholine on the other hand serves as a neurotransmitter for memory functions .
Citicoline increases the metabolism of glucose in the brain. It also enhances the flow of blood to and from the brain (cerebral blood flow) .
Studies have shown that citicoline reduces food cravings and increases the levels of dopamine in people addicted to cocaine . In people not addicted to cocaine, increases the responses of the brain to food stimulus, especially in the insula, the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, and the amygdala which are linked with reduced appetite . It should be understood that this supplement may reduce the appetite in humans at doses of 2,000mg daily. Why this happens is not fully understood .
On its role in weight management, research has shown that citicoline helps in efficient burning of fat. Choline is a micronutrient that has a lipotropic property. What this implies is that it accelerates the use of fat by the body, and even prompts the liver to dispose of stored or trapped fats . Studies  have shown that using choline in a weight loss program may give positive results. Though it may not be classified as the best or most potent weight-loss supplement, it uses a natural mechanism of action – with zero side effects, making it one of the most-desired.
Choline accelerates lipolysis, meaning that it helps burns fat at a faster rate than you would with the normal metabolic rate. It does this by facilitating movement of dietary fats through all cells of the body so that they can be burned for energy. It is believed that this is the mechanism it deploys to prevent excessive weight gain, while also promoting a gradual and steady weight loss.
The effect of Coleus Forskohlii on food addiction, food craving and weight management
Forskohlii has been used for hundreds of years for the treatment of various diseases and health conditions .
A number of studies have x-rayed the role of forskolii on fat metabolism. Forskolii causes the release of fat from fat cells [19, 20]. Similar effects are experienced when the body burns fat for energy. However, the release of stored fat is enough for significant weight loss. For the weight loss to make any impact, there must be an accompanying calorie deficit. What this implies is that energy expenditure must be greater than energy intake.
Does forskohlii play any role in food craving and food addiction? Well, there is not much research on this particular subject. As a matter of fact, no credible research has been performed on the effect of Coleus forskohlii on food craving and addiction. Nevertheless, it is said to suppress appetite by enhancing insulin sensitivity .
The effect of Nicotinamide Mononucleotide on food addiction, food craving and weight management
Nicotinamide mononucleotide is a coenzyme. It is present in all body cells. It is essential to the chemical processes used in the production of energy. Because it plays a very important role in the production of energy, it has numerous potential health benefits. It improves physical performance, immune response and cognitive function.
On weight management, Low Nicotinamide MonoNucleotide worsens weight gain by not being the energy source the body needs. Without energy, processes like metabolism start to slow down. Low Nicotinamide MonoNucleotide compounds the problem by also promoting weight gain through secondary sources like diabetes and heart failure . Studies on the effects of nicotinamide mononucleotide on food addiction and food craving is scarce. There is need for more credible and large scale studies/clinical trials on this subject.
What happens when all of these are mixed together?
(N-acetyl cysteine, citicoline, Coleus Forskohlii and Nicotinamide Mononucleotide)
According to the MedScape Drug Interaction Checker, no adverse interaction exists upon combination of all these supplements.
A study has suggested that via the eNOS enzyme, NAC can be converted into S-nitroso-N-acetylcysteine which seems to promote an increase in pulmonary hypertension via interacting with some enzymes. While no evidence currently exists assessing humans this is thought to occur at concentrations reasonable close to pharmacological doses of NAC (for cognitive effects).
N-acetyl-cysteine regulates the glutaminergic system in the brain, and so satisfies the reward centers of the brain, thus reducing compulsive behaviors and cravings.
Citicoline interacts with the eyes. It has proven neuroprotective effects in glaucoma and amblyopia. It interacts with and protects the nerve cells in the eyes for those patients with progressive glaucomatous disease in spite of well-controlled intraocular pressure. May be able to promote neural conductance along vision pathways, but does not appear to influence intraocular pressure.
Choline is a micronutrient that has a lipotropic property. Studies have shown that citicoline reduces food cravings and increases the levels of dopamine in people addicted to cocaine.
This supplement interacts with insulin. Studies have shown that it is able to release insulin in vitro as well as somatostatin and glucagon when incubated in pancreatic cells.
The issue with Coleus Forskohlii is that supplementation can cause an increase in stomach acid levels, and may be a bad idea for those currently suffering from stomach ulcers.
There appears to be a desensitizing effect of nicotinamide mononucleotide on pancreatic β-cells which reduces their ability to sense glucose, initially resulting in impaired insulin secretion and mild elevations of blood glucose.
Low Nicotinamide mononucleotide promotes weight gain through secondary sources like diabetes and heart failure.
The above claims are based on Independent research. They are not to be taken as a medical advice. Readers and patients are advised to consult with their physician in the event of any health issue.
This article has examined the role played by some ingredients in food craving, food addiction, and weight management.
N-acetyl-cysteine regulates the glutaminergic system in the brain, and so satisfies the reward centers of the brain, thus reducing compulsive behaviors and cravings. Also, N-Acetyl-Cysteine aids fat loss by interfering with the interaction of insulin with the fat cells, hence preventing fat storage, and enhancing the mobilization of fat out of storage and used for energy at an accelerated rate.
Citicoline is a supplement – a dietary supplement. It plays a vital role in the support of neural functions such as mental alertness, focus and memory. Studies have shown that citicoline reduces food cravings and increases the levels of dopamine in people addicted to cocaine. In people not addicted to cocaine, increases the responses of the brain to food stimulus, especially in the insula, the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, and the amygdala which are linked with reduced appetite. Research has shown that citicoline helps in efficient burning of fat. Choline is a micronutrient that has a lipotropic property. What this implies is that it accelerates the use of fat by the body, and even prompts the liver to dispose of stored or trapped fats.
A number of studies have x-rayed the role of forskolii on fat metabolism. Forskolii causes the release of fat from fat cells. Not much studies have been done on its role in food craving and addiction.
Low Nicotinamide MonoNucleotide worsens weight gain by not being the energy source the body needs. Without energy, processes like metabolism start to slow down. Low Nicotinamide MonoNucleotide compounds the problem by also promoting weight gain through secondary sources like diabetes and heart failure.
Potential role of Theanine in food cravings and addiction
Theanine enhances the effect of Gamma aminobutyric acid and contributes to decreasing food addictions and cravings. Studies have shown that injection of theanine (30µM/kg only; 15µM/kg being ineffective) increases the concentration of GABA in the brain by 19.8% (Kimura and Murata, 1971).
Theanine also elevates the levels of dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters play a vital role in regulating appetite. By elevating their levels, theanine indirectly potentiates their appetite-stimulating and or inhibitory effects.
Because there’s been no conclusive research, a safe L-theanine dosage recommendation isn’t known. There have been no reports of overdose or side effects of taking L-theanine, and drinking tea is generally safe for most people. Oral administration may be up to 250mg/serving.
But following general caffeine consumption guidelines can be helpful if you’re drinking tea. For those taking an L-theanine supplement, it’s best to consult your doctor for guidance on dosage.
Kimura R, Murata T. Influence of alklylamides of glutamic acid and related compounds on the central nervous system. I. Central depressant effect of theanine. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1971.