Wednesday 29th January 2020
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Diet problem

A common major reason for lack of success in diets: more alcohol intake caused by carbohydrate restriction

A major reason why diets are unsuccessful is the tendency to drink more alcohol during attempts at carbohydrate restriction.

The traditional view is that dieting fails because drinking results in loss of self-control which leads to binge eating.
In fact, it might be the opposite: not eating causes an alcoholic binge.

Doctors have discovered that people who have a craving for sweets and prefer sweet tastes, the popularly known "sweet tooth", have less control over their drinking.

And people who have a lower carbohydrate intake than normal may act in a similar way.
This might also explain why women on diets can crave alcohol and succumb to binge drinking.

Alexy Kampov-Polevoy and his colleagues at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine reviewed 30 studies that linked diet preferences and drinking patterns, and found that being born with a sweet tooth (babies display distinct differences in their preference for sweet tastes within hours of being born) is connected to a genetic predisposition to alcoholism.
Alcoholics tend to have a sweet tooth, and those who prefer the sweetest foods have the strongest hereditary component.

"It is not alcohol drinking per se that reflects alcoholism," observes Kampov-Polevoy "it is loss of control over drinking. Loss of control over sweets predicts a loss of control over alcohol consumption."

This is consistent with the evidence that eating more sugary foods than usual stems the craving for drink in people trying to break their dependency on alcohol.
A study discovered that those alcoholics who stayed sober the longest while in treatment were those who addded twice as much sugar to their tea as those who relapsed back into alcohol dependence.

It seems that alcohol and sugars are associated with the release of natural morphine-like substances in the brain, so it may be that addiction to one can be partly improved by switching to the other.

Having a sweet tooth may predict your ability (or inability) to retain control over your drinking.

If you have a sweet tooth, the lesson from this research is that you have to be particularly vigilant over your alcohol intake, to ensure your brain's need for chemical rewards doesn't eventually land you in rehab, desperately sucking sweets.



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