Dr Oz: Dopamine Causes Cravings
Have you ever wondered why you can not stop craving food? According to Dr. Oz and his guest, Bryce Wylde, it all comes down to dopamine.
Dr. Oz explained that dopamine is the feel good hormone that has been shown to also regulate cravings for food and the temptations you have to act on those urges. While the dopamine is not the chemical that tells you whether you are hungry, it has been shown to control how much you crave a food.
Wylde used the example of craving chocolate. He said when you begin to crave chocolate it is because the chocolate will make you produce more dopamine which in turn makes you feel good. While you think it is the chocolate you are craving, it is actually your body craving the dopamine which it knows it will get more of when it eats the chocolate.
Dopamine Causes Crashes Throughout the Day
Wylde said throughout the day you are going to crash continually if you succumb to the cravings. If you eat what makes you feel good, your dopamine levels will surge but they quickly crash because they can not be sustained all day. This leads to more cravings and more eating which in turn leads to high dopamine levels that soon crash. It is an ugly cycle.
What happens in the brain after so many crashes is the dopamine levels are lowered because the body is trying to get to homeostasis. It intentionally lowers the dopamine levels to keep you from getting excited to eat all the time and to get the dopamine levels at a more constant level but you continually crave more food because the dopamine levels are so low.
Low Dopamine Levels Lead To More Cravings
Dr. Oz talked with one woman in the audience who said she gets cravings all day but they are the worst at night, around 8:30, when she starts snacking on so many different foods. She said whatever she can get her hands on, she eats.
Dr. Oz showed her a brain scan of a brain with normal dopamine levels and one with low dopamine levels. While they looked similar, the one with the normal dopamine levels had a lot more activity. Dr. Oz said the other scan, with the low dopamine levels, is similar to the brain scan of someone addicted to drugs.
Guidelines To Know If Your Dopamine Levels Are Low
Wylde said there are three questions everyone needs to ask themselves if they think they have low dopamine levels.
- Am I craving foods and snacking late at night a few nights a week?
- Am I eating foods after I am full?
- Am I irritable and tired all the time?
If you answered yes any of these questions, you could have low dopamine levels.