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It's Just Like Drug Addiction EVERYONE FREAK OUT: The Role And Limits Of Reward (Why Are We Hungry, Part VIII)
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April 24, 2012
5:54 pm
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Cameron, Tx
Gnoll
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Pete Ray:
Interesting article man! Much like diet, there are many versions of what may be correct but all must have a basic backdrop that is concordant with our shared biochemical similarities.

Interesting how we are all different and yet all the same.

Lol and I am sleep deprived once again…..I need to check that before I post anything, otherwise I think nothing I write makes any sense! 🙂

Cheers

April 25, 2012
3:01 pm
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FrankG:

I agree that the popular view of hunger is basically religious, and I made a similar point in Part VII: "Even the irreligious tend to take the theological viewpoint on hunger: the desires of the body are sinful, and exist to tempt us into gluttony and sloth."

"I am convinced that just like every other animal we have innate abilities: to not only manage our energy balance but also our nutrient balance… without the need for kitchen scales or nutritional labels."

Absolutely!  If humans required those things to eat properly, how did we survive for millions of years without them?  Were we deficient in lentils and brown rice ever since the Pliocene, and just never knew it?  It seems unlikely.

I'm glad you found the article useful and informative.  Do stick around!

Daniel:

I'm not really arguing with you, and I apologize for sounding like I am.  There's just a currently-fashionable dogma in the Paleo community that it's absolutely unhealthy to do anything but go to bed early and wake with the sun.  As the article Pete linked suggests, different people have different sleep patterns (some of which are determined genetically) -- and the technology of houses and blackout curtains allows us to simulate night relatively effectively.  (Though simulating daylight isn't so successful.)

There's also the interesting fact that when people are completely decoupled from natural lighting and clocks, and allowed to sleep/wake when they wish, they tend to run on a "day/night cycle" somewhat longer than 24 hours.

"I think those of us in this paleo camp understand the importance of healthy, natural sleep, sunlight exposure, and minimal nighttime exposure to blue light whether it be from computers, light bulbs, or whatever."

Quite true.  I also suspect that the constant 120Hz flickering of fluorescent tubes with magnetic ballasts isn't good for us either, though I have no evidence for this other than my personal dislike for it.

Pete Ray:

That's a great article!  Thanks for linking it.

JS

April 25, 2012
10:20 pm
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Cameron, Tx
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JS:
No apology needed man, keep doing your thing. Funny tho, bc I kept thinking you thought I was being argumentative. We need to hunt and kill dogma as much as possible. There may be many things that are correct and true, but once things become "gospel truth" we get into trouble. We need to retain our ability to question our own conclusions in the greater search for truth.

I've never backed down from a fight be it verbal or physical and I love a good argument anyway. 😉

Cheers

April 29, 2012
6:10 pm
Diane
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I like this topic. I have been trying to understand Guyenet's reward theory but there is something off about it that I can't quite put my finger on it. Just observing myself I can see that there are foods that can trigger a limbic reward/pleasure center, and they aren't always the usual suspects. But to blame that as the cause of obesity seems strange. It may be a pathway, an entry point, one of many, but the sole cause? As if just avoiding things that trigger pleasure centers in the brain can fix it? This seems too simplistic, too Puritan and misses the gray areas. The exact gray areas you point out when you say that "the brain's reward system underlies all our motivations—not just the bad or “addictive” ones."

May 1, 2012
12:13 am
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Daniel:

I understand well!  However, I'm trying to keep gnolls.org a calmer and more welcoming place.  There are plenty of blogs devoted to arguments.

Diane:

Exactly.  It's a classic case of mistaking one part for the whole.  The human body is a wondrously complex web of interacting homeostases...claiming that one of them is the primary cause of obesity, given all the other factors we know play a part, has always seemed bizarre to me.

I hope my (ongoing) explanation puts reward in a more useful context.

JS

May 1, 2012
6:05 pm
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Cameron, Tx
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JS:
I'm glad you feel that way; I've stopped reading several blogs bc of contentiousness(they were deliberately written like that.) Anyway, you do just fine making everyone feel welcome.

One thing I need to do is take more time with responses and choose my wording more carefully. Nuance is difficult over the interwebz so I could stand to refine my posting skills to avoid unnecessary arguments.

Cheers!

May 3, 2012
6:50 am
Stefani Ruper
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JS, hi! In both of our absences, I missed you. Hope all is well. Additionally, so glad to see more re: hunger, and also what's following re: your incredibly ability to convey complex ideas to a wide audience.

Re: our discussions of my hunger in the past. I want to tell you that they are waning. I've put on weight. That's made a BIG difference. I'm also eating carbohydrates, which is actually helping. Not the fructose, processed sort, but the starchy sort. At least I think it's helping. And finally, I've been trying (though failing... if you ever end up over at my new site, you'll hear all about the things that I'm wrestling with, though I don't state that it's a personal battle explicitly)... so right, I've been trying to sleep more. I think increased sleep and increased fat mass and also some carbohydrates are helping me out with my leptin levels. Just thought I'd fill you in, and say I'm excited that you returned (though I know it was a while ago) and drop a hello, too.

See you at AHS?

Stefani

May 3, 2012
2:34 pm
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Stefani:

Great to hear from you again!  You're on a massive tear over at Paleo for Women, and I confess I haven't been able to keep up with all of it.

Your weight experience is interesting: both myself and others have found that our bodies and metabolism have continued to slowly change for a year (or more!) after going Paleo.  So I think the emphasis many people have on "losing weight fast" may be counterproductive: I view lower fat mass primarily as a side-effect of a healthy metabolism.  As I've said to others many times: your body didn't get screwed up in a month, don't expect it to fix itself in a month.

Consequence: I suspect you'll do much better in the long term by eating (and sleeping) in a way that addresses your health issues first...and then, once you're metabolically functional, seeing what happens to your weight, and perhaps choosing to address it if it's still not going where you want.  You seem to be on this path already, which is good.

Anyway, I'm glad to hear that you're doing well, and it's great to see you posting again.  And yes, I will absolutely be at AHS this year...in fact, I'm presenting!  So I look forward to meeting you in person.

JS

May 11, 2012
3:51 pm
Stefani Ruper
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Excellent! Oh, how wonderful.

YES, a "tear"--oh my goodness I have never written so many words in so short of time in my entire life, esp. considering I just finished up the finals period here in my philosophy program, too. Many words, but it's all so exciting, I can't really stop.

You are absolutely right, and I was a complete idiot for several years, wanting to meet society's standard of attractiveness before achieving good health. I am a firm believer now that even the thought of body-hatred or body-worry causes enough stress and negative cognitive behavior that weight loss/being healthy in general is significantly impaired. The whole vanity race... well, I'm as done with it as I can possibly be anyway. It's not worth it, not for anyone. Just stupid, stupid, stupid.

Stefani

May 15, 2012
1:27 pm
mike
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I always wondered about this: Since losing a ton of weight ( low carb/paleo of course), for the first time in my life I can be outdoors without a shirt and not feel like a freak. Now, since spending a lot of time in the garden or swinging kettlebells or playing with the dog (& always around mid-day) I have yet to get a sunburn or even a decent tan. My left arm doesn't even tan from driving. This has been going on for the last two years (the weight loss years)- Could a high fat diet prevent skin burning? Observational it does. Any thoughts?

May 15, 2012
4:56 pm
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Gnoll
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There is something about cholesterol, vitamin D and sunlight.

One of our more scientifically minded folks might well give us the skinny here, but as far as I understand it, cholesterol metabolises sunshine into vitamin D. You don't get burned, quite the opposite - you gain a lot from sunlight, but only through cholesterol ... which comes from real fat.

I love how you say you play with your dog. Playing is so important! Fun, activity and engagement with another creature; particularly a creature of another genus is really primal.

So, yes, a proper paleo diet is saving your lilly white skin from burning. Simple, innit?

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

May 16, 2012
1:44 pm
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Stefani:

It's like the old joke: "We're late because we took a shortcut."  

I'm glad you're back!

mike:

No one knows for sure, but it's a common finding.  I suspect it has to do with the decrease in PUFA and the increase in SFA in our diet.  Our cell membranes are all made of phospholipids -- two fats stuck to choline, or a similar molecule with phosphorous in it -- and, as any chemist can tell you, a saturated fat is a far more stable molecule than a polyunsaturated fat with multiple double bonds.  This would leave skin cells far less prone to oxidative damage from sunlight.

This hypothesis is consistent with the fact that skin cancer rates continue to climb over the last three decades, despite increased sunscreen use and lower sun exposure.

Paul:

Cholesterol is indeed the substrate for vitamin D synthesis (which requires UV light), but I'm not sure that affects your skin's production of melanin or propensity to burn.

Jamie Scott's most recent article is relevant: Beyond Vitamin D: Beneficial Effects of Life Under the Sun

JS

May 16, 2012
1:58 pm
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Gnoll
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Of course, we could just see it as ... "there's a big old sun up there and we've been living under it for a few million years ... if it really was bad for us, we would have frizzled up years ago". The sun is the very reason for life on this planet - we have developed ourselves as humans to be averse to the sun by deviating from a natural diet. Eat paleo ... live as intended under the sun, taking all the life-giving benefits it gives.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

May 19, 2012
12:04 am
js290
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JS, does food reward adequately explain the calories out component? That is, if we accept that metabolism can be slowed by restricting energy input, then it stands to reason that metabolism can be increased by increasing energy input. In other words, energy input and output are coupled; they can't be treated independently. So, if one is to argue that highly palatable foods cause excessive energy input, would they not also have to explain why those same palatable foods reduce energy output? Maybe I missed this part of the food reward theory?

May 19, 2012
2:23 pm
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js290:

First, I don't even like using the term "food reward", because it implies that "reward" is a property of food itself, primarily mediated by its taste.  (Or by a magical property called "hyperpalatability", typically used as shorthand for "food we tend to overeat". Yes, that's a circular definition.)  

In reality, "reward" is a subjective property assigned to food by an individual -- and the evidence is that it's primarily mediated by our own nutritional state and cultural preferences, not by the taste of the food itself.  I've laid out some of the evidence in previous installments, and I'll lay out much more at my AHS presentation.

Moving on to your question: all that the reward system can do is determine, to some extent, what foods we choose to eat (e.g. "calories in").  One key difference between myself and some of the more zealous proponents of "food reward" is that I see no evidence that hunger and reward trump biochemistry!  

For instance, it doesn't matter if you've eaten sugar because you really like Mountain Dew Code Red, because your mother guilted you into finishing her huge plate of spaghetti, or because someone said you should eat 30 bananas a day.  If you eat more glucose and fructose than your liver and muscles can store as glycogen, your body will (among other things) uprate thermogenesis in order to try to burn off the excess.  So the fact that reward can explain some fraction of "calories in" doesn't change what happens once we ingest them...and the evidence is clear that "calories in" and "calories out" are not independent quantities.

And so on.  As Peter at Hyperlipid says, "I rather like biochemistry."  So do I -- and I disagree in the strongest terms with comments like "Everyone is fat primarily because they are trying to entertain themselves with food, and it has bollocks to do with insulin or “damaged mitochondria” or micronutrient deficiencies."  This mistakes the map for the territory: as I said above, "The reward system is the conduit by which our wants and needs are communicated to our conscious mind: it’s not the cause of our wants and needs."  

What happens to food once we eat it is biochemistry, and it has everything to do with insulin and mitochondria and micronutrient deficiencies -- as well as leptin, CCK, PYY, secretin, and a host of other hormones and peptides and complicated interacting homeostases between the trillions of cells in the human body.

JS

May 19, 2012
8:01 pm
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Cameron, Tx
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I rather like biochemistry too. All myths and misconceptions fall away in light of biochemistry.

I think there is more to biochem than we realize. Our place in the world can be revealed by it and perhaps so can our attitudes and outlooks.

No amount of medication, meditation, positive thinking, etc., can "fix" us if our biochemistry is all screwed up. That's why so many people have so much success with diet alone.

I know my attitude shifted drastically in the positive once I fixed my biochemistry.

With every theory that comes to pass regarding health-whether mental or physical health(SAME THING)- I always check it up against what we know SO FAR about biochem.

There's no reason to over think this stuff anyway: eat fatty meat, don't eat birdseed, drink water. Organs, bone broths, and some seafood are nice too(SASHIMI!!!!). Oh yeah, and I guess some veggies for color…..if you want. 😉

I love this forum….

May 20, 2012
10:31 pm
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DT:

You're right: it's Not That Hard.  I've written about this before; Better Health Is Less Complicated Than You Think.

One of the unfortunate consequences of overcomplication is that it leaves us vulnerable to being sidetracked by the infighting and status-seeking that's become so prevalent in the online community of late.  "There must be SOMETHING MORE I can do to my diet to make it EVEN BETTER"...  Well, maybe not!  I think some of this "Paleo is too limiting" talk -- and its alternative, "You're doing it wrong" -- isn't adding any knowledge, and it's confusing a lot of people.

JS

May 27, 2012
2:08 pm
Stephanie
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An Ayn Rand loving dude I know mentioned once that if we could ooh figure out a aw to privatize Ir, then air pollution would stop. To me that's as scary as regulating the sun.

I just read this series and enjoyed it. Thanks!

May 29, 2012
1:48 am
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Stephanie:

Thank you!  I hope you found it useful as well as enjoyable.

And no, you can't privatize a commons: you can only monopolize a commons.

JS

June 7, 2012
7:28 am
Ed
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Does biochemistry include the brain? Where does neurochemistry fit in? Do the cellular processes work the same irrespective of signals from the brain?

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