From the Heart

Boosting heart health.

Psychology of Food and Alcohol Addictions

Importance of breaking a bad habit

We are all creatures of habit, both good and bad; while creating good habits can be beneficial our bad habits may be self-destructive and hard to break, especially when it comes to our eating and lifestyle habits. Are you struggling to eat better or drink less alcohol, but finding it very hard to change your unhealthy habits? You’re not alone, and science tells us that it may not entirely be our fault.

We are surrounded by food everywhere, especially unhealthy and highly processed foods that are always available. Over the years our genetically engineered foods and fast foods have altered our taste buds to crave bad high-calorie and high-fat foods. A 2010 study published in Nature Neuroscience found that when rats were regularly fed processed and fast foods, their brain chemistry changed causing them to become obese and refusing to eat a healthy diet. More research shows that the foods we eat today can be just as addictive as drugs. Therefore, the more bad foods we eat the more bad foods we crave.

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A similar addictive principle applies to alcohol. People drink to socialize, celebrate, and relax; but drinking too much can lead to an addiction and cause serious damage to the body. New research using brain imaging shows that the more alcohol you drink the greater endorphin release of naturally occurring feel-good opioids leading to more pleasure out of drinking and hence an alcohol addiction. It’s been proven that alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways. Drinking too much can also weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease. Other common problem of heavy drinking include: damage of the heart, liver problems, pancreatitis, and cancer.

It’s been proven that old bad habits are hard to break, but when it comes, but you need to try to gradually incorporate new habits before it’s too late. A couple weeks ago, famous Sopranos star James Gandolfini died at the age of 51 of sudden heart attack just hours after consuming last meal of fried-foods topped with eight alcoholic beverages. Although, Galdolfini's risk factors that led to sudden cardiac arrest are unclear, his meal was a recipe for a heart attack containing more calories than a man needs in a day and a very high fat intake.

Dr. Cynthia Thaik strongly believes that one of the most important steps you can take to improve your health and prevent disease starts with what you put on your plate. Read her full article (http://drcynthia.com/sopranos-star-james-gandolfini-dies-at-51-of-sudden-heart-attack-raises-public-concerns-on-mens-health-2013-06-28/) to find out how you can protect your heart and the importance of breaking old bad lifestyle habits.

 

Cynthia Thaik, M.D., is a Harvard trained physician and currently an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine

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