Home Health DR MAX: This is why ultra-processed foods are addictive in the same way as cocaine

DR MAX: This is why ultra-processed foods are addictive in the same way as cocaine

by Alexander
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DR MAX: This is why ultra-processed foods are addictive in the same way as cocaine

Stay away from Coco Pops! Put down that spoon! Put that bowl away! Last week, author and associate professor Dr Chris van Tulleken showed a packet of the aforementioned cereal to the House of Lords food, diet and obesity select committee, and argued that it, and other junk foods, “harmful”, they should be stripped of health. claims and prohibition of advertising.

He was one of many experts who spoke to Parliament about the scourge of junk food, especially when it comes to children. Dr van Tulleken accused the mass-produced food industry of acting in a similar way to big tobacco, selling addictive products that could be harmful.

It is a topic that he has written about in his latest book Ultra-processed people: Why we eat things that are not food and why we can’t stop?, published serially in the Daily Mail, and which exposes the horrendous effects on health, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, from junk food and the ruthless tactics that companies use to sell their products to an unsuspecting public.

“Poor diet has surpassed tobacco as the leading cause of death worldwide, and poor diet means an ultra-processed diet,” he argues.

It’s hard to disagree. While not as addictive as alcohol or heroin, processed foods are often carefully crafted to light up our reward pathways.

“Poor diet has overtaken tobacco as the leading cause of death globally, and poor diet means an ultra-processed diet,” says Dr. Chris van Tulleken.

This is similar to how cocaine acts on the brain and can create a strong desire to seek the “reward” over and over again – a type of psychological addiction. I have seen this many times.

Patients simply can’t seem to stop eating processed foods and feel out of control with them in a way they don’t with other types of foods. Cravings can be extreme as our brain tries to get us to activate that reward pathway over and over again.

This is no accident: these foods are carefully crafted to maximize the effect they have on our reward pathways, making them incredibly appealing.

It’s easy to say that people should just learn a little self-discipline, but for many these small “reward” moments are intoxicating and incredibly difficult to resist.

After all, we are programmed to seek out rewards and it’s a difficult instinct to fight back, especially if you’re a child.

Manufacturers effectively use our neurology against us to help sell their products.

Now I must confess that I love Coco Pops. There is always a box in my closet. But they are a rare treat: maybe once a month at most.

In the meantime, I eat healthy and exercise regularly. I eat lots of vegetables and fruits, only eat lean meats like chicken and fish, and avoid processed foods. So every once in a while, I think it’s okay to treat yourself. I’m not a monk, for God’s sake; I need some vices and they could be a lot worse than an occasional bowl of processed sugary cereal.

But for many people, these types of highly processed foods are a mainstay of their diet. For many, processed foods are a key source of nutrition and appear at every meal, often multiple times.

It is particularly worrying for children, whose bodies are still growing and developing.

There is clear evidence of the negative impact that ultra-processed foods have, not only on physical health, but also on mental health. A Harvard study last year found that eating ultra-processed foods (UPF) increased the risk of depression, for example.

The study found that participants in the top quintile of UPF consumers (who ate nine or more servings per day) had a 50 percent higher risk of developing depression than those in the bottom quintile, who ate four or fewer servings per day.

Other studies have also found links to anxiety and cognitive decline. But why? Scientists have made some progress in answering this complicated question. UPFs are high in carbohydrates, saturated fat and energy, and low in protein and fiber.

This type of combination is not seen in unprocessed foods. This, along with additives such as stabilizers and emulsifiers that increase shelf life and improve flavor and texture, create inflammation in the body, which is known to increase the risk of physical and mental health problems.

Many UPFs are low in micronutrients, such as niacin, pyridoxine, copper, selenium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc, chemicals that the body needs in small amounts to function properly, which means we are eating foods that are not actually foods. in the nutritional sense.

I am a libertarian and believe people should be free to make decisions about their lives, including what they eat.

But let’s not forget that many of these products are aggressively marketed to cash-strapped children and families who don’t know the health implications of the things they put in their shopping cart each week.

Surely the least that companies that sell these types of products should do is warn those who consume them about the health dangers.

Many adults and adolescents with severe hair loss will benefit from Ritlecitinib, an innovative drug that can cause regrowth in just six months. It has been described as a “monumental day” for those suffering from alopecia areata, which can be devastating in many ways for thousands of people.

How Robin became a victim of fame

There has been great sadness after former Strictly star Robin Windsor died last week aged 44.

He was very open about his mental health issues and was a passionate advocate for other sufferers. I interviewed him a few years ago about this and it was a real pleasure to talk to him.

But he had also spoken about the impact of Strictly dropping him after an injury. He was so upset that he couldn’t watch the BBC program and fell into a deep depression.

Strictly stars: Robin Windsor with dance partner Kristina Rihanoff

Strictly stars: Robin Windsor with dance partner Kristina Rihanoff

Strictly stars: Robin Windsor with dance partner Kristina Rihanoff

The chill people experience when the warmth of the spotlight passes to someone else can be devastating. I saw this when I worked privately and treated several former stars who had turned to alcohol or drugs or developed crippling low self-esteem when their star declined, almost always through no fault of their own.

The world of celebrities is cruel and capricious. It sucks people in and spits them out. This worries me because of the number of young people who dream of stardom. Fame should come with a health warning.

Women who experience a stillbirth or miscarriage before 24 weeks will be able to apply to the government for a “baby loss certificate.” The scheme aims to recognize the devastating impact of pregnancy loss and help grieving families move forward.

I think it’s a good idea. Miscarriage affects people in very different ways. While for some they understand it as part of nature and move on, for others it can be horrendous and hang over them for years.

I have spoken to several patients over the years who have struggled to move on precisely because there is so little recognition of their distress. This will help.

Dr. Max prescribes…

wendy memories

Wendy Mitchell died last week, aged 68, after a battle with early-onset vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. She decided to stop eating and drinking in an attempt to end her life. Her 2018 best-selling memoir remains one of the best books I’ve read on the subject. Warm, intelligent and thought-provoking, a must-read for anyone affected by dementia.

Wendy Mitchell's best-selling memoir of 2018, Someone I Used to Know

Wendy Mitchell's best-selling memoir of 2018, Someone I Used to Know

Wendy Mitchell’s best-selling memoir of 2018, Someone I Used to Know

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