Did you know our brains are designed to fight against starvation? It’s true. The cave man realized he needed to seek and consume food and respond to danger in order to ensure survival. Those skills have been ignored in today’s hurried world and conveniences, yet the reality is that our brains were designed to fight against starvation and its chemistry as well as its reactions happen regardless. We need a balance of caloric intake and energy output. When we ignore the signals of hunger, our body reacts. Glucose falls and we become irritable. The gut releases peptide hormones which mediates hunger. A hormone called leptin is secreted by fat cells in proportion to the amount of fat stored in the body. When leptin drops below its normal threshold, it perceives this as a threat for survival and pumps out fat cells. The goal of leptin is to protect against weight loss in times of starvation rather than to protect against weight gain in times of plenty. Thus leptin doesn’t stop pumping out fat cells when the threshold is above normal.The pancreas works harder because of the weight increae and eventually burns out, causing diabetes. Fat stores in the liver and builds up, causing fatty liver disease. The body has trouble using the fat and becomes slow. Need I go on?
The yo-yo effect of dieting causes a decrease in our metabolism and an increae in our appetite. This specific reason is why dieticians recommend losing weight slowly and allow the plateaus to occur. Appetite is influenced by the availability and palatability of food. The anticipation of pleasure derived from the taste and smell of food is due to our reward circuit. Our reward center was designed to associate strong feelings of pleasure and satisfaction along with our behaviors that meet basic needs. The more endorphins produced the more you feel good. Palatable food provides a pleasurable brain reward, especially if we are stressed.
The cortisol hormone is secreted at higher levels during the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response to stress. When it doesn’t return to a relaxed state and stays on high alert, the brain reacts. The person will present with impaired cognitive performances, blood sugar imbalances, increased blood pressure, a suppressed thyroid function, and a decreased inflammatory response which contributes to slow wound healing. The abdomen fat increases and depression sets in with the weight gain. With all these factors in place, it puts the person at risk for a stroke, diabetes, and heart problems. It’s a vicious cycle. In today’s busy, demanding world, what can we do? We have to work harder at changing our patterns that we have developed and trick our brains from compulsive overeating. How you say?
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