Can One Really be Addicted to Food?

Can One Really be Addicted to Food? By Arpana Gupta, PhD and Riya Sood Potatoes: My weakness, my Achilles heel. Baked, fried, mashed, sautéed. I somehow cannot say no to them no matter what form they come in. Doesn’t matter how full I am, I always find myself leaning in for another bite. This led to my next question: Why is it so hard to stop eating certain foods? Despite our best judgment, we find it hard to say no to these delicious morsels. Who is to blame for it - our brain or our gut? Our lab has now begun to delve deeper into the brain gut connection related to obesity and food addiction and this is what we have found. Scientific evidence reveals the brain’s dynamic role behind food’s enticing, and mood-altering effects. It all lies at the heart of the brain. Our brains are wired to enjoy food; eating and nutrition are primal survival mechanisms. Eating - as well as other essential survival activities - trigger neurochemicals in the brain that travel specific pathways to influence our moods. Essential tasks are motivated through a reward seeking mechanism in the limbic system of our brain that are responsible for regulating craving, hunger and satiety. We enjoy processed foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar (for example think of that delicious slice of chocolate cake), because we find pleasure in the immediate energy they provide. However, for some, eating can become an act of desire, an overwhelming demand for more, and a mental compulsion to eat beyond feeling full. This is characterized by food addiction. When eating becomes unstoppable, consumes us, and we continue to eat for pleasurable beyond what our body needs is known as Food Addiction. Crossing the line from eating for hunger to eating for pleasure occurs with wanting more than the homeostatic needs of the body. The addicted brain becomes wired to crave more as soon as even the smallest amount of food has entered the system. It is as if the off switch is “off” and the reward circuitry within the brain is hijacked. As a result, many people with food addiction find themselves powerless and unable to control their cravings. Like a match igniting a fire, trigger foods ignite a fiery and voracious appetite that makes one want to eat, eat, and eat, describes Dr. Tarman, a world renown food addiction…

Chanterelle Mushrooms Bruschetta

Chanterelle Mushrooms Bruschetta By Elisabetta Ciardullo Whenever possible, I love to eat food that is in season. It is true that sometimes for reasons related to my work or just because the temptation is too strong, I end up cooking and eating bell peppers in December and butternut squash in July. But I like to think that the food in season tastes better. Which is the case when you buy your provisions at the farmers’ market, while probably in the grocery store the bell pepper has the same provenience every month of the year – and the same taste. In any case there is always a factor of surprise of the senses when you can taste again a flavor after six or nine months of absolute abstinence: it is inebriating. It’s like going back memory lane. Well, this is the case for the Chanterelle mushrooms. And it is not a self-imposed rule: chanterelle only grow wild and can only be harvested in the fall – even though of course there are experiments to farm them, and sooner or later we will be able to buy them all year around. In Italy mushroom foraging is a hobby that affects all generations, so usually from July - August until early November you leave early in the morning for a good and healthy walk in the forest, carefully measuring your steps and scanning the soil around you, hoping to find a delicate mushroom pushing from under a wet leaf. The best days are the ones after a heavy rain, when the sun comes out and temperature rises. Mushrooms grow extremely fast and spoil after one day or two. Many kinds of mushrooms can grow in a forest, but Chanterelle is always my preferred one, called Finferli in Italian, for its amazing, beautiful gold yellow color. Fascinating how food has so many colors, but this is a different subject. In any case, the good thing (or bad, depending on your point of view!) is that now you do not have to go foraging, you can buy the mushrooms at some farmers markets (there is often a dedicated stand), or – believe it or not – at Costco. And those are extremely affordable compared to the skyrocketing prices for wild Chanterelle in other fruits and vegetables stores. Chanterelle can be cooked in different ways, but I think the simplest is the better to get most…

Pollo en Escabeche (Chicken in Pickled Sauce)

Pollo en Escabeche (Chicken in Pickled Sauce) By Marta Díaz Megías Spanish Escabeche, a dish in which meat and vegetables are cooked in an acidic vinegar sauce. It’s unclear who made the first escabeche, but there are clues. The oldest known recipe for the dish (as yet unnamed) is found in the cookbook Apicius, written in Latin by an unknown author around the 4th century AD. It instructs that one can extend the shelf life of fried anchovies by “pouring hot vinegar over them.” Another, more widespread theory argues that escabeche originated in ancient Persia, not Rome, and traveled to the Iberian Peninsula during the Islamic period beginning in the 8th century. After all, escabeche’s root word is the Persian sikbāj, a medieval meat-and-vinegar stew. Almudena Villegas Becerril, Spanish food historian and author of the Culinary Aspects of Ancient Rome, argues that the Persian hypothesis is “a historical falsehood,” since the Romans, and perhaps even the Phoenicians, were preserving food in vinegar in Iberia long before the Moors arrived. “There are verified references to people making what we now call escabeche in the Roman Empire as early as the 1st century AD,” she said. “If only Spaniards knew how many dishes, we make today that date back 3,000 or 4,000 years! Escabeche is one of many Spanish delicacies that has persisted through the centuries for its preserving powers as well as its deliciousness. Indeed, a delightful perk of escabeches is that they improve with age for a week or more, making them a practical, versatile fridge staple. Ingredients: 4 chicken breasts 4 onions thinly sliced Virgin Olive Oil ¼ cup white wine 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper corns ¼ cup balsamic vinegar 3 bay leaves 1 fresh thyme sprig 4 finely chopped garlic cloves salt to taste Preparation: 1. In a deep pan sauté onion until it becomes soft and transparent, add the chicken, and cook it a bit on each side, just enough to seal it. 2. Add the rest of ingredients except wine and balsamic vinegar and cook it for around 8 minutes, add white wine and continue cooking for another 4 minutes, then add balsamic vinegar and cook for one more minute. 3. This chicken can be eaten both cold and hot. Great to eat with a salad, rice, or sliced in a sandwich. Keep refrigerated, because of the vinegar it will preserve for over a week.…

How Precision Medicine Will Change Our Health

How Precision Medicine Will Change Our Health By Marvin Singh, MD Precision medicine is a game changer in how we define health—or what it means to “be healthy.” We now have the technology to go in and see what’s true for you--just you. This means we can see how healthy you actually are, or what could use improvement, and make adjustments from that information. It also lets us look at your risk factors for certain diseases and then make decisions to hopefully prevent—or at least prolong—their onset, such as breast cancer, heart disease, or Alzheimer’s. Even more fascinating, we can also see where you might be prone to injury, which is definitely a game changer not only for professional athletes, but for anyone who engages in sports or physical activity. In short, precision medicine is our ticket to better health, for longer. This is why I wrote my newly released book, Rescue Your Health. I wanted to bring this message to the public and let everyone know that there are always things we can do to take control of our health and reduce our risks. “There are many ways to get started at looking into your health on a more personalized level.” There are many ways to get started at looking into your health on a more personalized level. Sometimes checking some simple blood tests to get an idea of what your cholesterol, vitamin levels, inflammatory levels, and hormone levels are, is a great place to start. When we want to dive deeper, we can look into our genetics, see how balanced our gut microbiome may be, investigate our personal toxic burden, and see how well our mitochondria are working (these are the energy powerhouses of the cell). It can be even more helpful to use these kinds of tests and combine them with imaging studies as well. Getting whole body imaging to screen for cancers, dedicated brain imaging to evaluate risk for neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease, body composition imaging to understand your internal BMI (a much better predictor of heart disease, stroke, and cancer), and several other kinds of tests can offer us an even more in-depth evaluation into how our body looks on the inside. I review all of these, and more, in Rescue Your Health. There is a good reason why it is important to look at all of these different elements of our body. That…

Natural Remedies for Lowering Cholesterol

Natural Remedies for Lowering Cholesterol By Juliette Frank and Jill Horn Cholesterol is synthesized in the liver, carried through the bloodstream attached to proteins called lipoproteins, and is found in all the cells in the body. Cholesterol is essential in building healthy cells and is necessary for other functions such as making hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids in the body. There are two basic types of cholesterol: HDL (high-density lipoprotein) which is known as the "good" kind because it helps move the bad cholesterol out of the bloodstream. LDL (low-density lipoprotein), also referred to as the “bad” cholesterol, is harmful at high levels as it can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries and result in heart disease or a stroke, the two leading causes of death in the United States. When treating high cholesterol, doctors may recommend changes in diet and activity habits to lower LDL levels. They are also likely to prescribe certain medications called statins (also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors), which are a class of lipid-lowering medications that have been shown to reduce mortality in those who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease. These drugs lower LDL levels by blocking a liver enzyme required to produce cholesterol. Based on recommendations issued by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, it is estimated that 33 million Americans - 44% of men and 22% of women - would meet the threshold for taking statins. “LDL (low-density lipoprotein), also referred to as the “bad” cholesterol, is harmful at high levels as it can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries and result in heart disease or a stroke, the two leading causes of death in the United States.” Even though statins are effective they have their drawbacks: they are costly and often have unpleasant side effects. There are various plant-based supplements on the market that have been touted to be effective in lowering LDL, some of which include bergamot, berberine, and red yeast rice. Unfortunately, dietary supplements are not subject to the same strict regulations as pharmaceuticals resulting in uncertainty about effectiveness and potential side effects. In the following we give a brief review of the most commonly used non-pharmaceutical treatments for high cholesterol. Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), as a citrus fruit native to the Calabria region of Southern Italy, has traditionally been used to boost the immune system and enhance cardiovascular function. In recent years,…