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Fatty Foods Similar to a Cocaine Addiction?!

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/03/28/fatty.foods.brain/index.html

The article opens with:

“A new study in rats suggests that high-fat, high-calorie foods affect the brain in much the same way as cocaine and heroin. When rats consume these foods in great enough quantities, it leads to compulsive eating habits that resemble drug addiction, the study found.”

Sounds foul, huh?  I mean I can’t say I’m totally surprised.  With growing obesity in America, levels of additives that are put into food, and the way we can’t help but daydream about yummy foods… something had to be wrong, right?

The article explains that the more junk food we eat, the more our brain normalizes the pleasure of eating fatty foods.  This is similar to the way our brains become dependent on the comfort of addictive drugs like cocaine.  When we overload our consumption, the part of our brain that processes pleasure also becomes overloaded, building a higher tolerance towards these substances.  This requires the body to consume more and more in order for the brain to acknowledge that it is receiving pleasure.

This is what makes people want to compulsively eat.  That heavenly piece of cheesecake, that cheesy slice of pizza, those bag of chips, or whatever your unhealthy food seduction may be.  The main focus becomes consuming what your mind sees as delicious food, regardless of pain, discomfort, or obesity.

It’s easier to consume these foods without thinking it’s a problem, because, hey everybody has to eat, right?  Eating is a daily activity and when we are hungry our brain shouts “FEED ME”.  We give it what it wants and it’s normal.  You go out of your way to buy and consume drugs, that are usually illegal and have a negative stigma attached.  Scary to think that they share the most important and dangerous part in common…

Dr.Gene-Jack Wang,  who is the chair of the medical department at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory says, “We make our food very similar to cocaine”.  Cocaine was used in the early centuries, but now the drug has been modified so it becomes a purified substance that effects the brain in a more severe way.  This process of altering natural substances into an unnatural and abusive form is compared to food.    Dr Wang describes modern purifying of food by stating, “Our ancestors ate whole grains, but we’re eating white bread. American Indians ate corn; we eat corn syrup.”

People try to but back on the “bad stuff”.  Dieting books, programs, weight loss supplements and forms of surgery have become a huge business in America within the past decade.  Usually people that try to lose weight feel like there is something psychologically and emotionally wrong with them, that makes them have an unhealthy relationship to food.  But no shit, the food that’s making people big is pretty much like crack!

Jeez, it all makes sense now.

What better way to spend a Saturday morning, then joining fellow comrades in protesting the U.S. occupation in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan?  This is my 7th anti-war march, and though I have seen the crowds shrink from nearly 20,000 to 5,000, I am still deeply inspired by the crowds of students, immigrants, women, workers, children, families, and people of color that continue to come out.

Lissett Lazo

During the march, I talked to Lissett Lazo.  She is a 19 year old political organizer with an organization called the Labor Community Strategy Center.  She goes to Santa Monica College and is studying Sociology and History.  I was drawn to her by her passionate energy as she led a drum and chant group of strong women, Korean elders, Chicano men, mothers, students, white allies, LBGT, and Aztec Dancers.  She held her first high chanting, “From Iraq to Palestine, Occupation is a crime!”

I was able to talk to her after the anti-war march and ask her a few questions:

Me: Why did you come out to the anti-war march?
Lissett: I went because I think that it is absolutely necessary to come out and support this event.  There is a sense in communities of color that because we have this new black president all of our problems (including this war) are going to be solved, when in fact Obama has not done anything to end the war that has been going on for 7 years now. He has actually installed private contractors that do not have to abide by any humyn rights principles, which makes it even more dangerous for the civilians in the areas that the U.S. is occupying.  So by coming out, it is my way of pressuring the government to stop the mass killing of innocent people and to start restoring those resources [being the money spent on the war] into our country
Me: That’s awesome.  Being a young student and activist, how do you feel when you see other students from elementary to high school at the march?
Lissett: It makes me so happy to see young people that are being raised in this counter culture that is resisting this rape and violence culture.  So many of us, including myself, were raised in a bubble where we do not even know about these issues, so seeing youth exposed and their consciousness being challenged and transformed is very exciting.
Me: I’m doing a blog based on inspiration in my life.  What inspires you?
Lissett: Being around people who -even if it is for one day- are fighting to end this matrix of domination. Doing the work of an organizer can be really challenging emotionally, so coming to a march like this, where hundreds of people aspire to reach the same goal as me is a really good feeling and it motivates me to keep going.
Me: What steps do you take in your daily life to keep on doing the work you are doing?
Lissett: I try to proactively practice a lifestyle of resistance where I am constantly seeking to dismantle the racist, patriarchal, classist, etc that I have been socialized to believe. I reach out to find the facts, I inform my peers about it, I try to be conscious of my role as a queer womyn of color as i work towards being a good example to other womyn like me
Me:  Is it hard to stay so resilient?

Lissett: Yah.  It’s hard to find a balance for me because I want to be able to do as much as i can but I don’t want to burn myself out either. The best thing that i have found helpful is being in cultural spaces where people of color are celebrated. I am also invested in my spirituality because ultimately this is where my strength comes- the spirit of those before me and the ones after me that keep me resilient.

Interpretive dancers portraying their vision of war's destruction to communities.

Many indigenous groups came out to relay a shared history of war and occupation

A wide array of groups came out to show their support and relay their own personal message of how they feel the war is affecting their communities.

“Get up, stand up; Stand up for your rights.” Bob Marley

I came across this article in the New York Times Magazine:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/magazine/10psyche-t.html?pagewanted=1&emc=eta1

The diversity of mental illness from nation to nation is dynamic.  Not, only do we hear the different types of illness happening in our own country, but through the new and rising forms of media outlets, others from across the world can too.

The article states, “For more than a generation now, we in the West have aggressively spread our modern knowledge of mental illness around the world. We have done this in the name of science…  There is now good evidence to suggest that in the process of teaching the rest of the world to think like us, we’ve been exporting our Western “symptom repertoire” as well. That is, we’ve been changing not only the treatments but also the expression of mental illness in other cultures. Indeed, a handful of mental-health disorders — depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia among them — now appear to be spreading across cultures with the speed of contagious diseases…”

Not only are other countries and cultures being exposed to Western mental illness, but I think any American would be lying if they say that they too have not been experiencing the mass waves of rising medication, illness research fields, and pharmaceutical businesses that are gaining heavy dominance.  As our bodies experience changes physically, emotionally, and psychologically, many of us our trained to rely on mass news, popular culture, and stories we’ve heard to understand what is happening to us.

Recently, I have been experiencing INTENSE procrastination and have been abnormally distracted this past month.  I can’t seem to focus on anything and my body and mind feel constraint when I concentrate on something too long.  My first instinct was to surf google and see “what was wrong with me”.  I spent hours on the internet trying to find symptoms, a name for what I was feeling, others who had similar stories, medical websites to see if there was anything I could take to help my mind settle.  Is this normal?

In the article, Dr. Sing Lee focused on the huge rise of eating disorders across the world.  He says, “When there is a cultural atmosphere in which professionals, the media, schools, doctors, psychologists all recognize and endorse and talk about and publicize eating disorders, then people can be triggered to consciously or unconsciously pick eating-disorder pathology as a way to express that conflict.”

I have talked about the awareness of eating disorders in school, have heard stories of it causing death in the news, and yet know many many beautiful women and close friends who have this problem.  Lee points out the mere awareness and legitimization of eating disorders as a disease by professionals can trigger that psychological pathway in the observer.  These eating disorders don’t only take the form of bulimia or anorexia.  I have  a friend who is almost 110 pounds and taking diet pills daily.  Maybe the same people trying to save us from our mental illness are creating a few of their own…

The most provoking statement in the article was, “Western drug companies dole out large sums for research and spend billions marketing medications for mental illnesses.”

Who benefits from our mental illness?  Our mass consumption of pills?  Our beliefs that there is something wrong with us?  …Scary, huh?

I work in an elementary school classroom with 1st graders.  I see them twice a week and spend a lot of time with the individual students.  I look at them and see nothing, but normal year old children… talkative, silly, sensitive, with a couple of those sneaky ones and their mischievous smiles.  Like the growing number of young people in the U.S., many of these kids are on medication.  They range from medication for anxiety disorders, hyperactivity disorders, learning disorders, attention-deficit disorders… probably more.  How about this, is this normal? Mind you, these children are 6 and 7 year old and started their first year at an elementary school.  Is it really that strange for kids of this age to be distracted and having trouble learning?  Is it okay for 1st graders to be taking more medicine than my 76 year old grandma?

The fields of study in science and medicine are continually growing at a rapid pace.  Natural remedies are quickly being forgotten and Western medicine is slowly taking over the world.  What do you think?

“Most men die of their remedies, not of their illnesses.”