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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.

Laughing is therapy.  Laughing keeps you positive.  Laughing creates intimacy and bonds with those you love.  Laughing has no bad side effects.  Laughing relieves stress.  Laughing can cure sadness.  Laughing reduces loneliness.  Laughter can help ease conflicts.  Laughter protects the heart.  Laughter releases endorphins.  Laughter makes the immune system strong.  Laughter strengthens relationships. Laughter makes me resilient.

“Laugh as much as you breathe as long as you live.”

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.”

Yoga means “inner oneness”.  And is a great way to develop the mind, body, and spirit.  It helps develops strength and flexibility; it practices deep breathing; releases tension in the mind and body; it benefits the heart, concentration, your mood, and so much more!  Starting this Saturday, I will take one class a week.

FREE CLASSES Every Saturday from 5-7 PM

8555 Haskell
North Hills, CA 91343

If this isn’t anywhere near you, you could check online.  There are tons of free yoga classes throughout Los Angeles in parks, recreation centers, and gyms.  Let’s do it!

“Yoga is bodily gospel.”  ~Reaven Fields

Sometimes my mind feels like it’s stuck in quicksand, slowly sinking and unable to break free.  It could be from the long list of things I have to do, things in the past I wish I could change, insecurities of what others are really thinking about me, past trauma, or the future (just to name a few).  They make my thoughts feel static, overwhelming me with stress and anxiety.

Now, think of some things that stress you out…

How do you deal with stress? Maybe ice cream? Procrastinating? Shifting your focus on to someone else’s problems?

One easy and IMPORTANT way to deal with stress is focusing on deep breathing.  Lay your hand on your chest and notice your breath.  When I did this, I was overwhelmed with school and issues at home.  My breath was quick and I felt a little claustrophobic.  Does your breathing feel constrained?

Long, deep breaths release tension in the mind, spirit, and body.  Noticing the pressure happening in my body, I relax and take in a deep breath through my nose, filling my abdomen and lungs with air.  I exhale the air slowly, releasing my stresses, fears, and concern with it.  I do this for a few minutes.  I feel calm, focused, and at peace.

Try it for yourself and see how you feel:

Not only does deep breathing help relieve stress, it also:

  • Purifies the bloodstream, allowing a detoxification to take place in the body.
  • Allows more efficient digestion because of the increased oxygen that is reaching the stomach.
  • Improved health of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves due to increased oxygen.
  • Skin becomes smoother and healthier with a reduction in facial wrinkles.
  • Healthier more powerful lungs, increasing stamina.
  • Allows heart to last longer and work more efficiently.
  • Fights against heart disease by providing extra oxygen to your heart’s tissues.
  • Relaxes mind and body without inducing tiredness. You feel relaxed and energized at the same time.
  • Releases tension and reduces stress
  • (Source: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/149086/the_vital_importance_of_deep_breathing.html?cat=5)

It’s crazy to think that something we do naturally, everything single day. can give us so many health benefits, if we just do it a little slower and deeper.

Instead of waking up thinking, “Oh God! Another day; It’s early; I don’t want to wake up; Ugh; So much to do!”, I will take five deep long breaths and say, Thank you.  And throughout the day, I will practice this breathing as many times as I can.  Everyone can handle this.  It’s simple, easy, and relaxing.   Let’s try it together and see if our days make some positive changes.

Image by Laura Crescio

Visit http://www.stress-relief-exercises.com/deep-breathing-exercises.html to get more tips on breathing techniques

“For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth.”