A study suggests that carb addition can be indeed real. Researchers at Boston’s Children Hospital conducted their research by observing the brains of men who consumed carbohydrate-rich foods. They found out that these men experience blood sugar rush followed by a sudden crash which typically lasts for hours.
This surge in the blood’s sugar level activated a strong hunger signal that stimulated a specific brain region that is responsible for managing addiction. Prior to this, there are only psychological reasons to attribute carbohydrates with food addiction. With this line of reasoning, it was believed that since carbohydrates are generally tasty and delicious, people can’t help but crave them. Dr. David Ludwig reported that this study is one of the first to present why carbohydrates can cause food addiction through studying biological processes.
In this recently concluded study, the researchers wanted to know if the sudden rapid surge and then the crash of the blood sugar affect the brain and its functions directly. They observed how obese people tend to eat too much and how people who cut their calorie intake drastically fail to sustain them.
They wanted to find out how refined carbohydrates affect how people think and in turn, how much they eat. They gathered a dozen men and let them take two doses of liquid test meals- one of which contained high GI carbs and the other with slow digesting carbs. They then studied the brain activities of 12 men aged 18 to 35 years old using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), a device which captures the brain at work in real time. They reported that when the men took the high GI carbs they reported much more hunger than when they took the slow-digesting carbs. The MRI scan also revealed that high GI carbs activate the nucleus accumbens which is the brain’s segment in charge of reward and craving.
The study, however, comes with a lot of weaknesses. For one, the participants were mostly male and the sample size was only small. There is also the concern about the exact meaning of food addiction. How exactly can you say that someone is a food addict? Will that be because of the calories in the food he or she consumes or on the frequency of their meals? The team acknowledges these concerns for those who’d like to perform similar studies.
But still, the study has grounds to say that limiting intake of ‘high glycemic index’ carbs like that of white bread, white rice and potatoes among others can lessen obesity and instances of overeating. The research was actually inspired by Dr. David Jenkins of University of Toronto who first coined the term glycemic index. Glycemic Index is defined as how fast food can raise blood sugar levels. It also determines how much increase should one expect when certain foods are eaten.
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