Why do people who eat a lot of processed carbohydrates find themselves hungry – even when their stomachs are full? New research by the physician and public health advocate Dr David Ludwig suggests that their brains are being ‘hijacked’.
His study, which involved giving twelve men with high BMI (Body Mass Index) two different kinds of milkshakes, has been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The experiment compared their reaction to a milkshake containing a highly processed and fast-acting carbohydrate (corn syrup) with a slow-acting carbohydrate (corn starch).
Here are some points from Dr Ludwig’s findings:
- Blood glucose and insulin levels were higher after the fast-acting milkshake for the first hour or two. But by four hours after consuming the fast-acting shake, blood glucose fell to lower levels and reported hunger was greater, compared to the slow-acting shake.
- The scans detected one brain region, called the nucleus accumbens that lit up like a laser after the fast-acting shake. The effect was so strong and consistent, it occurred in every one of the participants, providing strong statistical confidence in the results. The nucleus accumbens is considered ground zero for reward, craving, and addiction — including alcohol, tobacco, and cocaine abuse.
- Activation of this brain region on a weight loss diet would erode willpower, making sugary and starchy foods (which raise blood sugar most rapidly) exceedingly hard to resist.
This study is another solid example of how the brain can be ‘hijacked’ by sugar… How highly processed carbs can interfere with basic brain circuitry.
Dr Ludwig says the best way to get off the blood sugar roller-coaster ride and stay committed to healthy eating is by replacing processed carbs with high-quality fat, protein and natural carbohydrates.
Follow the link to read his blog.