Gut Feelings

Curious and Curiouser, V

Although they are not discussed as often as other organs such as the heart, the intestines are very important. Jill Escher mentions them, when dismissing the theory that sugar is just empty calories:

No, no calorie is empty — each bit of digestible stuff we put in our mouths will have some biochemical impact on our complex physiologies, and in the case of sugar those supposedly ’empty calories’ elevate our blood sugar, impact our gut biology and endocrine systems, and alter our neurochemistry.

Childhood Obesity News has mentioned the topic before, more than once. When talking about cravings, we quoted two authorities on wheat cravings. Pioneer food addiction specialist Dr. Douglas Hunt wrote that they go away after four days of abstinence, and Zoe Harcombe says five days.

Either way, the residue of wheat products and any accompanying yeast need to completely leave the digestive tract, before the cravings will cease. The trick is to get through those early days, which the “W8 Loss 2 Go” iPhone App has been created to help with.

Becoming unhooked from problem foods is possible if they are tackled one at a time, in a structured way. “W8 Loss 2 Go” creates a personalized support network that can be an enormous help in getting through the initial stages of withdrawal, which are the hardest, and then maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The digestive process was also mentioned in a comment that has since been removed from a webpage about Carnie Wilson, but whose traces are still visible in the cached version. The person’s name is Lee, and she is upset by people who call bariatric surgery an easy fix:

The type I had rerouted my food! I do not use my stomach — I had a pouch made out of muscle in my leg — and it bypasses a lot of the upper intestine !! I cannot overeat — as there is no place to put the food — it will come back up and out!! You cannot take a lot of over counter meds — or any NSAIDS — or any time release meds — or alcohol based meds — no codeine — or you will burn a hole in the pouch and waste will dump into your internal organs!

NSAIDS, of course, are drugs that relieve arthritis pain, and Lee has very bad arthritis. Unable to ingest the oral medications, she says she must take two injections per month at $1,600 each, along with a monthly shot of Vitamin B12 due to the surgery, and three other unspecified monthly injections. Also, she is on two meds every day for high blood pressure, which the surgery did nothing to alleviate. In other words, Lee emphasizes, gastric bypass is neither easy nor a fix.

Maybe we can get to a place where food addiction never even needs to be treated, because it won’t exist anymore. Maybe the way to prevent it lies not just in the psychological self, but also deep in the gut. Stranger things have happened, and humans don’t yet know everything. One thing we do know is, even if it turns out there is no direct link to obesity, keeping optimum intestinal health can only do a person good.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Sugar, the Narcotic,”, 10/16/11
Source: “Carnie Wilson Sacked as Diet Spokesmodel,” Showbiz Spy, 11/29/10
Image by Newtown Grafitti, used under its Creative Commons license.

3 Responses

  1. I think we are starting to understand food addiction and cravings much better. Over the years I have learned that patients with normal functioning brains never have cravings for sweets and junk food. These cravings always indicate some level of brain dysfunction.

    It has now been well documented that people with type II diabetes have a form of reversible brain dysfunction. They also tend to crave foods with sugar, HFCS and high glycemic carbohydrates. What’s the connection?

    We now believe that these people have a condition we call Carbohydrate Associated Reversible Brain syndrome or CARB syndrome. As this disease progresses people develop up to 21 brain dysfunction symptoms. The lead symptom is craving food loaded with sucrose, HFCS and high glycemic carbohydrates, especially from grains. The primary triggers of CARB syndrome are excessive fructose mainly from sucrose and HFCS and high glycemic carbohydrates, especially from grains.

    Although it is true that these cravings will tend to subside over time if a person avoids these foods, for many people this is impossible to do because their cravings eventually overwhelm their best intensions.

    At the Wilson Institute of Neurobiology we have developed various techniques for suppressing these cravings, making it much easier for people to comply with a healthy diet. One of the most useful tools is taking the amino acid l-glutamine as a supplement. Taking 1,000 mg of l-glutamine between meals on an empty stomach is an effective way to suppress carbohydrate cravings. L-glutamine is inexpensive and extremely safe.

    They are many other ways to suppress carbohydrate cravings and to reverse CARB syndrome. Learn more at: http//

    1. As I noted previously, I don’t believe it’s necessary to attribute dependence on highly pleasurable foods (food addiction and resulting obesity) to a direct biochemical effect of food substances, such as sucrose or fructose, on brain chemistry. Fast sensory signals, e.g. taste and texture, acting on the brain are enough to induce dependence. Bulimic individuals immediately purge foods eaten, yet still become addicted to the foods.

      1. Although I agree that fast sensory signals may play a role in obesity for some individuals, it clearly doesn’t play a role for others. My wife is Greek so I certainly wouldn’t turn down some homemade Baklava but I always stop at a small portion and I never crave it or think about it. People with CARB syndrome are always consciously thinking about food or eating even shortly after eating a mean while those that don’t have the disease never do unless they haven’t eaten for 6-8 hours. What’s the difference? I suppose you could say that the first group is addicted to food but just what does that mean? Why aren’t I addicted to food? After all I really love to eat–just ask my wife!

        I do perhaps over consume some highly pleasurable foods–I love steak and I eat it often and when I do eat it I often eat a lot of it. A nice marbled steak certainly would quality as a highly pleasurable food, yet my percent body fat is 17% regardless of how much or little exercise I do. I never pay attention to calories or go on a diet in the traditional sense because I know the tricks to keep my brain functioning in a way that resists excessive fat storage. Again I think the food addiction model is a little too simplistic to account for everything that we are seeing in our patients.

        All of the patients I treat that fit the CARB syndrome obesity pattern have strong cravings for food loaded with sugar, HFCS or high glycemic carbohydrates. Yes perhaps they too like steak but they never eat a steak without French fries smothered in ketchup or similar fare. Again I think all of us need to listen and learn from each other if we are ever going to solve our obesity epidemic. I appreciate this site for making the effort to do so.

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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