In the New York Times Science Times on Tuesday June 6, is an article about binge eating disorder. This disorder is defined in the psychiatry books as recurrent episodes of binge eating at least once a week for at least three months. During the binge, the person eats larger quantities of food than most people would eat in a limited time, usually two hours. There is also loss of control, marked distress, eating rapidly and until uncomfortably full, eating large amounts of food when not hungry, eating alone and feeling depressed or guilty afterwards. People with this disorder often try to conceal their behavior and feel ashamed.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, up to 3 % of people in the United States have or have had this disorder. Yet this disorder is not talked about or diagnosed very much. There is no understanding of the cause or mechanism. The disorder can be very impairing. The standard treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy.
Is there another way to understand this disorder? Is there a way to understand this disorder that leads to a way to treat the behavior of this disorder? Let us start with what happens during a binge. What kinds of food do people binge on? Do they binge on grapefruits or blueberries? No. People binge on sugary foods such as cake, pie and ice cream. What will happen with all that sugar intake? Is all the sugar intake benign?
Any researcher who wants to think about the cause of this disorder should think about what is the impact of all that sugary food intake. There certainly could be more academic research on this question. There is a reason why the research is limited. To understand what sugary food intake does, we have to look at the intestinal yeast Candida albicans. The intestinal yeast Candida albicans is present in the human intestine much more so after antibiotics have been given. The academic community regards this yeast Candida as benign. However when the yeast Candida is given sugar and other growth factors that are present in sweet foods such as barley malt, Candida makes a whole variety of toxic chemicals. The reason Candida does this is to clear out any bacteria nearby. In humans, these chemicals are also absorbed and can go up to the brain. These are chemicals such as toxic alcohols, acetone and the nerve poison hydrogen sulfide. What do such chemicals do in the brain? Is there anything these chemicals do to keep people eating?
Such chemicals have many effects but one of them is to slow down and sedate the brain. What does that do? From anesthesia research on anesthetic agents which also sedate the brain, this leads to release of endorphins and release of endorphins is thought to be pleasurable. So we have a plausible reason for why people can keep eating sugary foods past the point of fullness and satiety. Eating all those sugary foods is leading to the release of endorphins.
But these chemicals are also toxic and in this writer’s experience, can cause depression. The endorphins may feel pleasurable at some level but the other chemicals can cause depression. These kinds of mixed effects are seen in people who binge eat.
What should people who binge eat do? The best thing to do is to follow a diet which helps reduce the amount of Candida present in the gut. Every bit of sugar intake gives the yeast a chance to make these chemicals which start the process of endorphin release but also cause depression. Depressed brains want to feel better, even if it is very temporary and endorphins will do that. So if there is too much Candida present, the brain will be slowed down and want anything to feel better. If there is no or little Candida present, this process has much more trouble getting started.
We wrote the book Feast Without Yeast: 4 stages to better health, so that people could eat in a way to reduce the amount of Candida yeast in the gut. Following this diet will most likely help with binge eating.
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