Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Are food cravings and addictions related to what we eat? Part One of Two

Image Courtesy of Tony Alter. Flickr Photostream
What if animals, naturally programmed to stop eating when satiety centers in their brains signal them to stop, were fed like humans? Do animals also get cravings? What if we could identify and use changes in nutrition in the human diet in the 20th century, and apply them to animals?

Well, this is the question, CAPT Joseph Hibbeln, M.D, a psychiatrist and lipid biochemist by training and acting chief of the Section on Nutritional Neuroscience,
Laboratory of Membrane Biochemistry and Biophysics, NIAAA, wanted to find answers to. He has done extensive research on alcoholism, violence, depression, and anxiety and has attributed much of learning deficiencies and behavioral disorders to inadequacies of essential fatty acids, such as DHA and EPA in the human diet. Working with scientists from Norway, Denmark and Japan the team modeled human consumption and applied it to lab mice:

“During the 20th century, elevations in Arachinoid Acid-PL have been estimated from the dramatic increase in dietary LA ( linoleic acid) resulting from a more than 1,000-fold increase in the estimated per capita consumption of soybean oil from 0.006 to 7.38% of energy. Here, we modeled these ecological dietary changes in mice to determine if increasing LA as a controlled dietary variable could elevate AA-PL composition, increase endocannabinoid levels, and induce metabolic and phenotypic changes consistent with obesity.”

For this study, researchers took rodents that were given specific diets for 14 weeks, consisting of 1% energy provided by linoleic acid (LA) typical at the turn of the century (1900s) and compared them to other rodents that were fed a diet of 8% LA energy reflecting end of century (1999) consumptions of soy and other vegetable oils.

Linoleic acid is an omega-6 essential fatty acid that is a precursor for arachidonic acid-PL, the backbone of endocannabinoids. An excess of LA is not conducive to good health.

In the movie Cinderella, a Walt Disney animated classic, Jaq was the thin mouse. Gus, his friend, was appreciably overweight and slow to move.
Knowing that soy bean oil is about 50% Linoleic Acid the scientists postulated that if it induced excessive cravings for food hyperactivity in mice and humans alike, then increasing soy oil consumption would correlate with increasing obesity during this time period. In the study oil content was were moved around for each of the three mice to make sure Jaq received 1% energy from LA, while the other two had 8%.

Just to make sure their research emulated and preserved generational consistency, mothers of all mice in the study were fed the same diets while they were pregnant with these pups. Since each pup came from a different mother, one can only imagine what Gus’ mother looked like. Below, Gus is the mouse in the middle in Chart-1.

Based on results of the study the authors concluded that dietary linoleic acid elevated cravings, resulting in the development of diet-induced obesity. It is revealing, to say the least that, Jaq, had the highest content of saturated fats in his diet; those from hydrogenated coconut oil at 280 g/kg. Of the total 350 grams/ kilogram of feed for Jaq, 11 grams came from flaxseed oil. Gus, chilling over there in the middle, on the other hand had no taste for flaxseed or fish oil. His coconut fat consumption was reduced to allow for supplementation with 123 grams of vegetable oils, including 74 from soy oil. Ringo, the one at the far end, had a similar diet as Gus, except his coconut content was reduced to allow for 12 grams of fish oils.

Chart-1 Food Cravings and Weight Gain

Percent Energy content Linoleic Acid

1% LA
8% LA
8% LA + 1% Omega-3
Fish Oil

Courtesy of National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Strangely, Jaq, with the highest saturated fat content appears to have been the slimmest, followed by Ringo. Both mice had higher omega-3 in their diets as is evident by the presence of flaxseed and fish oils.

Compared to Jaq, in Gus’ liver, increasing LA from 1 % to 8 % energy almost tripled omega-6 and AEA endocannabinoid (EC), and quadrupled the 2-AG EC. For the same linoleic acid increase, Ringo saw his liver omega-6 and AEA go up only half of Gus, but his 2-AG EC was a tad higher. For Jaq, the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (n-6/n-3 in table above) was as good as it could get; a solitary number one. Presumably his diet reflected a common fat composition in diets at the turn of the 20 century.

What do the results tell us? Well, visibly, we can tell, Gus died happy. Jaq, who appears to have died healthy, was old fashioned and stuck to a traditional pre 1900 diet. And Ringo, well… in a way the real star is Ringo. We would expect Ringo to have died wealthy, which he did, at least in the knowledge he imparted to us in that, now we know; even with poor dietary habits, a dash of fish oils (omega-3s) can save us from obesity.

During this same time, while Gus and the rest of us, were speeding downhill powered by our little EC engines, devouring soy oil fried or other oil prepared foods, what was the soy production complex doing? For a crop that hardly existed before the turn of the century when it was brought into the U.S. from China or India and in 1924 had a paltry 1.8 million acres to its name, production has virtually exploded.

In 2011, 75 million acres in the country were growing a crop worth over $42 billion, 45% of which would be exported, with the largest buyer being; guess who? China, of course! It bought a whopping 895 million bushels.

So what does China do with all this soya? Well they used to make milk and cheese, and tons of other soy based nutritious food products. But now things are different. The Chinese dragon has tasted fast, highly processed, deep fried, oily food, and it is hooked. The only thing that is expanding faster than their economy is their waistline. Gus has arrived as an unrepentant hero and his lifestyle is being emulated with a vengeance. Disturbingly, while obesity correlates with poverty in the western world it is the reverse for China and other Asian countries. Over there, fast food and American style eating habits symbolize the cool factor; and cool comes at a price which only the well to do can afford, and of course the nouveau riche don’t mind showing off one bit. People dress up to go to McDonalds and Pizza restaurants even for regular meals. It is another matter McDonalds happens to be a favorite for wedding receptions as well. With 20,000 fast food outlets planned to open in the next few years, obesity is here to stay.

Not to be missed by the food industry, the average person now consumes over 11 kilograms of soy oil per year in the U.S. Around the beginning of the century that number was less than half a kilogram. Please see Appendix-B.

What do we understand from this research?

Probably no one can talk about the use of vegetable oils in foods with the fervor, conviction, and dedication of Dr. Mary G. Enig and her colleagues at The Weston A. Price Foundation. And she will back it up with fact.

In The Oiling of America (an article co-written with Sally Fallon), she notes:
“…Because polyunsaturates are highly subject to rancidity, they increase the body's need for vitamin E and other antioxidants. Excess consumption of vegetable oils is especially damaging to the reproductive organs and the lungs—both of which are sites for huge increases in cancer in the US.
In test animals, diets high in polyunsaturates from vegetable oils inhibit the ability to learn, especially under conditions of stress; they are toxic to the liver; they compromise the integrity of the immune system; they depress the mental and physical growth of infants; they increase levels of uric acid in the blood; they cause abnormal fatty acid profiles in the adipose tissues; they have been linked to mental decline and chromosomal damage; they accelerate aging.
Excess consumption of polyunsaturates is associated with increasing rates of cancer, heart disease and weight gain…..”
So regarding the rodents, are vegetable oils addictive?

That was the premise for the study with the mice. The authors postulated if popular vegetable oils were substituted for either flaxseed, or fish oil, would it interfere with the cravings of subjects, in this case, mice? It appears it did. Most notably for Jaq and Ringo above.
Excerpt from From Hunter Gatherer to Waddler Hoarder (Chapter 9) “ Knee Deep in Pain book”. October 2012. Amazon.


Anita R. Alvheim, Marian K. Malde, Douglas Osei-Hyiaman, Yu Hong Lin, Robert J. Pawlosky, Lise Madsen, Karsten Kristiansen, Livar Frøyland and Joseph R. Hibbeln.
“Dietary Linoleic Acid Elevates Endogenous

2-AG and Anandamide and Induces Obesity”. Integrative Physiology. 15 March 2012 Obesity.

< http://www.nature.com/oby/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/oby201238a.html>

Obesity (2012) doi:10.1038/oby.2012.38
doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agh110

"Origin, History, and Uses of Soybean (Glycine Max)." Origin, History and Uses of Soybean. N.p., 2005.

USDA ERS - Soybeans & Oil Crops: Related Data & Statistics. .
For current coverage of the soybean industry, see the ERS monthly newsletter
U.S. soybean exports by country, 2010/11
  • Top five destinations:
    China-895 million bushels
    Mexico-124 million bushels
    European Union-87 million bushels
    Japan-75 million bushels
    Taiwan-56 million bushels
Patterson, Sky. "Obesity in China: Waistlines Are Expanding Twice as Fast as " US-China Today. University of Southern California, 2011. .

Tanya L Blasbalg, Joseph R Hibbeln, Christopher E Ramsden, Sharon F Majchrzak, and Robert R Rawlings. "Changes in Consumption of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids in the United States during the 20th Century." The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011. . Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 May; 93(5): 950–962.
Barbara Batetta, Mikko Griinari, Gianfranca Carta 4 , Elisabetta Murru, Alessia Ligresti, Lina Cordeddu, Elena Giordano, Francesca Sanna, Tiziana Bisogno, Sabrina Uda, Maria Collu, Inge Bruheim, Vincenzo Di Marzo, and Sebastiano Banni."Journal of Nutrition." Endocannabinoids May Mediate the Ability of (n-3) Fatty Acids to Reduce Ectopic Fat and Inflammatory Mediators in Obese Zucker Rats. .
Parolaro, Daniela, Daniela Vigano, Natalia Realini, and Tiziana Rubino. "Abstract." National Center for Biotechnology Information. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat., 2007 December; 3(6): 711–721. .
Image: Tony Alter-Flickr Photostream http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2443/3829063385_35fbd4b6c7_z.jpg

#foodaddiction #cravings #Obesity #overweight #vegetableoil #soybean #soya #soybeanoil #flaxseedoil #fishoil #coconutoil #omega3 #omega6 #linoleicacid

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