Archive for April, 2012

A question was asked about whether fasting would cause glucagon to make so much glucose that insulin would begin to spike.  Hopefully with the following link, I’ve dispelled that notion!



I Don’t vs I Can’t

A recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research, Inc. by Drs. Vanessa Patrick and Henrik Hagtvedt  was really interesting to me.   Although it doesn’t seem to quite fit with appetite regulation, I decided that it did indeed.  So I report to you!

In the study, participants were given the task of using two different phrases, “I don’t” vs. “I can’t.”   Very interestingly, the use of the phrase “I don’t” helped with internal motivation!  Translated, if you want to maintain weight loss because you are personally motivated to loss weight AND not for the purpose of getting ready for a wedding or worrying about what other people think (these are external motivations!), then using the phrase “I don’t” becomes much more empowering to help you maintain yourself in the face of temptation vs. using the “I can’t” phrase.  

To be complete, if you ARE trying to lose weight before a wedding or a reunion and that’s your only goal, then “I can’t” apparently would work better.   “I can’t” phrase seems to help one with motivations that are external!  

BUT for you folks that need long-term control or your diet, use “I don’t” eat processed carbohydrates. ” I don’t” eat starches.  “I don’t” eat cake!   This will make you feel more in control!

I would have liked to see some MRI studies in cingulate gyrus getting if the “I don’t” phrase works better there than the “I can’t” phrase.  The cingulate gyrus is considered to be the anatomical seat for “willpower.”   I hypothesize that the “I don’t” phrase lights up this section of the brain more than the “I can’t” phrase.

I must say that for myself, a long-time sugar-addicted guy, the “I don’t” phrase works for me personally.  I had defaulted to saying “I can’t” eat carbohydrates for many years.   I felt deprived.   Since reading this study, I’ve converted to saying “I can’t” instead.   Amazing how well “I don’t” worked better than I can’t.  I simply feel more empowered! 

Especially when confronted with those Passover chocolate covered matzo and matzo ball soup and the chocolate bunnies of Easter.   Or the kitchen at work with the leftover chocolate chip cookies.   Those were there just last Thursday and I said “I don’t” to them.  

Reference:  Journal of Consumer Research, Inc.
“I Don’t” versus “I Can’t”: When Empowered Refusal Motivates Goal-Directed Behavior
Author(s): Vanessa M. Patrick and Henrik Hagtvedt;contentBody

Excellent piece and very pleased to see 60 Minutes tackle such a difficult subject. Thank you for breaking through what many of us have been trying to tell our dietitians and physicians for years: The 60+ carbohydrate percent recommended by the so-called Food Pyramid/Plate and the USDA is patently incorrect.

If I may make a few corrections, your piece says that all cells REQUIRE glucose. This is incorrect! ONLY axons of certain neurons and rapidly acting fast twitch muscles require glucose. Indeed, this is why glucose needs are actually so minimal and why sugars are not essential compounds! Ketones (which are natural breakdown products of fats) are utilized more efficiently by all cells except those listed above. In particular cardiac cells prefer ketones for efficiency over glucose.

Second, while I agree with Dr. Lustig that fructose is a particularly bad player, excess glucose enters into the same pathway that fructose does and causes the same damage. Thus, the pastas and the breads, which are all converted to glucose, worsen the damage by the added sugar.

Third, glucose is addictive as indicated in your piece. Thus you have to deal with your addiction. The conclusion that you can have “some” sugar is therefore not a good recommendation. It IS a good start to the final recommendation to stop eating sugar! Isn’t this akin to saying to a cocaine addict that “some” cocaine is OK?

Stimuli such as advertisements can override your brains’ signal that you are satiated. This means that the advertisement of sugary cereals on Saturday mornings is, in addition to the aforementioned addictions, causes overeating of such sugary cereals and is a great contributor to childhood obesity. The pizza commercial precisely at 5:15 pm invokes the phone call to the local pizza chain. The link of television watching and obesity is now clear: Such advertisements directly increase eating behaviors.

Perhaps as a follow-up, 60 Minutes might ask the following question: Why does the USDA continue to support the now debunked Food Pyramid/Plate? Answering that question might get you into a 100 billion+/year industry that encompasses not only lobbyists for food and soda industries, but also the diet and fitness industry, bariatric and plastic surgeries industries, pharmaceutical industries, advertising agencies and anything that makes money on our human physiological vulnerability to sugars and its direct link to obesity.

Excess sugar, both fructose and glucose, activate high glucose sensing neurons in brain hypothalamus that cause you to activate hunger (orexigenic) pathways. This causes you to eat more! And if what you eat is sugar, then you have again activated those neurons! In science and medicine this is called a positive feedback mechanism almost always associated with pathophysiology and disease!

AND if the taste of starches (sugar polymers) and sugars causes dopamine to increase in rewards pathways then you can also add sugar addiction to the mix. This makes it difficult to maintain a low carbohydrate diet in the same manner as alcohol and drug addictions make it difficult to stay alcohol and drug free.

AND that visual, auditory and olfactory (sight, sound, and smell, respectively) cues can override satiety to cause you to eat more explains why advertisement of sugary foods adds a third component to obesity.

All three separate neuronal pathways result in overeating of sugars. The excess sugars cause the phenomen of glycation of proteins. That is, the sugars are chemically bound to the proteins. This changes the shape of the proteins. This changes the function of the proteins. So if that protein was a transporter that was supposed to help nutrients get into a cell, and glycation causes that protein to stop functioning properly, then you just stopped a nutrient from getting to a cell!

That would indeed be an example of toxicicity!


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