What is down-regulation?
And how important is it for you to understand it if you want to have a healthy lifestyle.
When it comes down to it, pleasure is one of the biggest reasons why people overeat and enter a vicious cycle. Why do people binge on food, especially junk food like pizza, sweets, fries, pasta and so forth?
Along with stress, people overeat because of the sensation food gives them. The feeling of pleasure.
There are a lot of things in life that provide pleasure, but not all of them are easy to access, buying and driving a Ferrari feels good, but it’s not as accessible as buying a delicious burger from five guys with some cajun fries.
Yet both the Ferrari and the burger flood the brain with the same substance of pleasure.
But what is pleasure really,it’s a feeling, an emotion, but behind that, what is the chemistry? Can we bottle that up in the lab?
Endocrinology, which is the science of hormones and neuroscience, which studies the brain revealed That there are two hormones involved in creating pleasure, dopamine, and endorphins. When you think of pleasure from getting a pizza, there are two feelings playing,
Dopamine and Endorphin
Dopamine is what you feel when desiring the pizza or the Lamborghini, it increases your eagerness and craving, we feel a bit excited. Our mood is uplifted almost, without even eating the pizza yet. think of how you feel when you are making an order for pizza delivery. The process itself makes you feel a bit happier. You can feel it.
The second hormone involved in the pleasure pathways of the brain is endorphin, which is released as a reward when you are eating the pizza and your taste buds are in heaven, your taste senses are overwhelmed with yumminess. So dopamine fires you up and endorphins act like putting cold water on hot stones.
This is called the reward pathway, which leads many people to seek food that gives them this pleasure. Thousands of experiments with brain scans have been conducted to confirm this reward pathway.
Beyond food and pleasure, the reward pathway motivates us in almost everything in life, from sex to sport, to job career and financial goals.
So the reward pathway is not bad, it’s a biological and evolutionary mechanism that helped us survive, thrive and evolve for the past 100 thousand years. But the reward pathway of pleasure from dopamine and endorphins can be overused and lead some people to become slaves of these emotions.
We worry about being watched by the government and corporations, 1984 and big brother, but how many of us are worrying about being a slave to our emotions, especially to pleasure?
70% of the American population is overweight and obese, seeking pleasure through food is a big reason why.
So how does the brain become a slave to pleasure, do you think you are thinking clearly when you binge eat on sweets and junk food, what is happening inside the brain? Are you in control?
If we go back ten to 20 thousand years ago, you can imagine that we didn’t have quick pleasurable food around us all day long. Back in the mountains of Europe or the African savanna, we didn’t have the luxury to order some Chinese food, eat some toast with Nutella on it or get a pepperoni pizza on our way home from work.
For the majority of human evolution, pleasure was a rare feeling, it was unpredictable.
And by not having pleasure at the tip of our fingers, the reward pathway in the brain was very sensitive, which is the core message of this video. Listen carefully…
Your Pleasure Sensitivity
When the brain is flushed with secretions of dopamine and endorphins, brain neurons have to sense them and transmit these good feelings to the entire brain, bloodstream and nervous system. Those receptive neurons are called receptors.
But if the reward pathway is always activated, dopamine and endorphins receptors start to lose their sensitivity over time or lessen in number.
This situation is called down-regulation. In other words, the more pleasure your brain received from food, the less pleasure you can feel, because the middle man, brain receptors are reduced or become insensitive.
So naturally, what people do is increase their dosage. From a drug addict to people indulging in food, the process is the same. Take a cocaine addict for example, do you think the first time and the 40th time he felt the same feeling of pleasure? If the dosage was the same…No.
And this is the same situation with pleasure, the type of food, frequency and dosage leads to down-regulation, you feel less pleasure.
If you eat pleasure type food every day, your brain will down-regulate these pleasure hormones more so then if you were eating them on your cheat day.
This is why I often tell my friends who eat unhealthy that I feel more pleasure from eating a pizza than they do. Not to boast about it, but because of brain chemistry.
I eat clean, healthy for the majority of the week, all year long, and then Saturday or Sunday, I have a cheat day…So you can think of a cheat day as a day where you flood your brain of pleasure via food.
The less pleasure type of food you eat, the more sensitive you will be once you eat them, sporadically. Your taste buds will be hypersensitive.
The reward pathway is very important to understand if you want to increase your mind control, which is the missing link in nutrition and fitness. On a bigger picture, seeking frequent pleasure in life can lead to feeling the complete opposite, which is why psychology is now alerting us about the dark side of consumerism.
We are at a level of technological advancement where we can manufacture and acquire pleasure very cheaply. More clothes, more food, more entertainment, more sex, more drugs, more gadgets, more traveling.
Without understanding that having more of what we want decreases our capacity to feel pleasure, we become desensitized and increase our consumption. Marketers understand it and use it to their advantage. You buy one shoe, now you want the next one, the more you buy, the less satisfied you get.
Understanding this scheme, how started wearing this black t-shirt most of the time.Less is more, this axiom is so packed with wisdom, but how many apply that to their lives?
Here are some quick ways to get back control of your brain by restoring sensitivity to pleasure, it’s literally a process of rewiring your brain.
First, you have to understand the whole brain reward pathway of pleasure, which is why education is so important, so you don’t just follow our blueprint, you understand why. You increase your wellness IQ.
Second, you have to create a distance, turn off the mechanism. That means, start eating healthy 90% of the week, good fat, good proteins, moderate to low carbs and as little as possible of processed food.
These two steps will work to up-regulate your brain reward pathway, which means restoring pleasure receptors or increasing their sensitivity to pleasure from food.
Next, the difficult part is not relapsing…It’s often easy for an addict to go to rehab, but the challenge is going back to his previous environment and resisting the temptation. It’s easy to fall back into eating unhealthy, think of it as a period of healing, you are literally healing your brain. This step is where most people fail, 95% of people who diet fail, before or after. Keep that in mind.
You will be triggered or crave unhealthy food often, but just watch from within, look at these craving and know it will pass…because after all, cravings, emotions, thoughts, they are like the rain, they come and go yet deep down you remain, so it’s possible to train yourself to not succumb to impulsions…
Which is why you want to make it as hard as possible for you to relapse, don’t buy unhealthy food and bring it home, chocolate bars, sweets, cereals, bread, pasta, don’t bring that to your house…
It’s up to you.