Binge-Eating: An Orthomolecular Perspective
Updated: Nov 5, 2020
Emotional Eating is a very complex topic-- and it is also very close to my heart.
There are many contributing factors or underlying imbalances that contribute to binge eating disorder. It can be a result of food conditioning or a behavioural perspective, a hormonal imbalance, an underlying infection (often yeast or parasitic), food addiction, or from a mental health disturbance.
It is common (and very normal) to eat too much at Christmas, or AYCE Sushi. However, emotional or Binge Eating is far more than stuffing yourself with wine and treats during the holidays.
It is a sense of loss-of-control over food consumption, that often follows a cycle; Restrict- Binge- Guilt- Repeat. You'll notice that the cycle of binging often begins with the act of restricting. This is often a part of binge-eating that is overlooked, and in my opinion is the key to keeping the cycle alive, or possibly breaking the cycle for good.
Due to the name of this disorder, it will not come as a shock to you that there is a very large emotional component to emotional eating. Therefore it is important to work one on one with a trained professional that you trust in this area, in order to get to the root of the issue.
THAT being said-- from a nutritional perspective there are tons of helpful remedies that are tried and true. Take it from me!
Most of these supplements, and practices work on rebalancing specific hormones that are responsible for managing our satiety and dopamine levels.
When we consume food our body releases dopamine which makes us feel good, but it is highly addictive. Have you ever wondered why recovering substance abusers gain weight when they stop using? A lot of it has to do with the body expecting a consistent hit of dopamine, and when the substance is no longer at use, food becomes the new provider.
Let's take a closer look at some of the factors that YOU can consider on your own!
Leptin & Ghrelin In order to understand the chemical imbalance that is associated with over-eating, let me introduce you to two very important hormones; Leptin and Ghrelin.
Leptin and Ghrelin are our hunger hormones that tell our body when we are hungry, and when we are full. Leptin is responsible for inducing the feeling of satiety suppressing food intake, and there-by inducing weight-loss. Ghrelin on the other hand plays a role in meal initiation and prompts us to eat. Making enough Leptin is often not the problem, the body usually makes tons of leptin! Because our body produces so much leptin our cells become resistant to it-- and we don't hear leptin's message "I'm Full"
Helpful Supplementation for Increasing Leptin Sensitivity:
Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLA) CLA is associated with weight loss in many studies. It’s believed to relate to leptin by having a lowering effect on it, and in turn increasing sensitivity. *Minimum 1500mg with water in the morning on empty African Wild Mango African wild mango or “Irvingia gabonensis” contains an extract knows as “IGOB131”. In a study done over the course of 4 weeks, the extract “IGOB131” vs placebo was given to 40 overweight participants. The group given the supplement lost 5.6% more body fat which suggests that this extract has a positive effect on leptin resistance. Intermittent Fasting Another great way to Increase Leptin sensitivity is to try intermittent fasting. Essentially decreasing your eating window to only 9 hours in the day. This has an amazing effect on your enzymatic activity and can help to lower blood sugar levels, decrease cravings, promote weight loss, and increase muscle mass. This is also an effective intervention if the root of the disorder is food conditioning, as it strengthens the hunger tolerance muscle. More on Intermittent fasting HERE 2. DOPEAMINE
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses specifically in reference to rewards and pleasure. Individuals with low dopamine activity are more prone to addictions because they are seeking an external trigger to produce this hormone. Binge eaters become addicted to the hit of dopamine released when they consume food. One way to weaken these cravings is to provide the body with the precursors to produce dopamine on its own! L-Tyrosine L-Tyrosine is a non-essential Amino Acid produced from Phenylalanine. Although it is non- essential, it plays a huge role in determining our moods, and regulating our feeling of satiety, as it is the precursor to dopamine and our stress hormones. L-Tyrosine is also required to produce T3 and T4 (our thyroid hormones). Supplementing with L-Tyrosine can reduce cravings, help us handle stress, and support our thyroid hormone! L-Tryosine has thereby been an effective supplement to promote weight-loss. Foods with high-protein content are often rich sources of L tyrosine. Some of these include fish, poultry, milk, cheese, yogurt, soy products, almonds, peanuts, avocado, banana, sesame seeds, lima seeds and pumpkin seeds. *500mg 2x per day on empty 3. SLEEP
Sleep also plays a large role in regulating our hunger hormones Leptin and Ghrelin. When we lose sleep our body doesn't produce as much Leptin and we are left starving, and craving foods that will provide us with quick energy (sugar, and carbs). Sleep is also important for managing our cortisol levels. When we are running on adrenaline, our body produces cortisol which pulls glucose (sugar) from wherever it can, and puts it in our blood. This causes large issues with stubborn weight, particularly around the mid section! Additionally it can throw off all of our other hormones eventually leading to estrogen dominance. It is SO important to get between 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and if you can't, take time to catch up on weekends! These are just a few helpful tips to get you started on regaining control of your eating habits, and feeling good in your own skin again. However, this barely scratches the surface of available research and remedies in this area. If you need any help, or would like to know more information, don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I can either help you directly or point you in the right direction!
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