3. GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

Binge-eating fatty food may lead to alcoholism

Binge-eating fatty food may lead to alcoholism
Written by ZJbTFBGJ2T

Binge-eating fatty food may lead to alcoholism  EL PAÍS USA

Binge-eating fatty food may lead to alcoholism

Influence of Binge-Eating on Addiction Development

In detox, we ate until we burst. I don’t remember a single junkie who didn’t go crazy for ultra-processed foods, and I was at the front of the line. But now a comprehensive review of recent scientific studies suggests that binge-eating may make us more susceptible to developing addictions.

If you’ve been part of an addiction therapy group, you’re probably aware of how often we discuss our challenges with food. Interestingly, research shows that around half of the people who struggle with addiction also have an eating disorder. This isn’t strange, since the consumption of alcohol and sugar use the same pathways in the brain: both make us feel good.

The Role of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Our reward system is at play here — dopamine is being released into our limbic system. Picture a time long ago when humans first walked on two legs, when supermarkets didn’t exist and extreme scarcity threatened our survival. Our biology back then rewarded us for finding calorie-rich food. I didn’t know this during my stint in rehab, but deep down, I must have had a hunch. Why? Because every time I felt the urge to drink, they handed me a glass of sugar water.

I always thought that both behaviors — dysfunctional drinking and eating — were caused by an inability to regulate emotions. That’s partly true, but there’s something even more significant at play: eating too much fatty food during adolescence can actually trigger addiction development. Note that I’m talking about fats not carbohydrates, which apparently don’t have much involvement here.

Until recently, there were studies on the prevalence of drug use in individuals with eating disorders as compared to the general population. However, there was limited information about how binge-eating relates to the risk of problem drinking. But now we have insightful papers that suggest the type and manner of food consumption have a significant impact on the development of alcohol use disorders.

Review of Recent Studies

In 2021, Blanco-Gandia and Montagut-Romero (from the University of Zaragoza, Spain), and Rodríguez-Arias (from the University of Valencia, Spain) published a review of recent studies on animal consumption patterns that modulate reward systems. There are two main models for these studies: one where a rat is given unlimited access to food and one where it has limited access. It was observed that providing unlimited access led to an obese animal with metabolic syndrome. On the other hand, limiting access produced an intermittent pattern that closely resembled the dynamics of binge-eating. Simply put, what mattered in the development of a binge-eating disorder was not how much was eaten, but rather how it was eaten.

A separate study revealed that rats with a preference for fat tend to consume a greater amount of alcohol compared to rats with a preference for carbohydrates. According to the published literature, there is a bidirectional relationship between binge-eating disorder and substance use disorders. Binge-eating can lead to drug addiction, and drug addiction can also contribute to the development of various eating disorders.

These findings weren’t limited to animals. A study involving 428 university students revealed a clear link between a high-fat diet, binge-eating and increased alcohol consumption. This is significant considering the latest report from the World Health Organization (WHO), which highlights the doubling of global obesity rates in the past 30 years. Of particular concern is the rise in obesity among children and young people who consume foods high in fats and sugars.

A New Risk Factor

This raises a new risk factor to consider when studying and treating substance addiction: the impact of consuming high-fat foods. In addition to preventing early drinking, monitoring peer pressure, promoting alternative leisure activities and teaching emotional regulation, it’s important to pay attention to your children’s eating habits. This includes not only assessing the amount of junk food they consume, but also observing how they consume it.

A quick aside: some of us associate binge-eating with obesity, but it doesn’t work like that. Many people binge and aren’t obese, and most obese people don’t binge.

Keep in mind that your child’s brain is constantly learning, but their prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain that guides them in making healthy choices — is still developing. This can lead to binge-eating. Consequently, we find ourselves in a predicament where this particular type of food has a profound impact on the cognitive function and behavior of upcoming generations that our societies must ultimately support.

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