June 6, 2011
This article was published in Akasha’s newsletter on “Addictions”.

Turning to food for comfort may result in an emotional high, but craving things like ice cream, cookies, pasta or cupcakes when you are down may be a sign of an underlying amino acid imbalance. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and turn into neurotransmitters in our bodies. Neurotransmitters, like serotonin, tryptophan and tyrosine, are our brain’s hormones and affect all aspects of our bodies, including mood, energy, sleep, libido, and ability to concentrate. New research is linking amino acids to the hunger-stimulating hormone, ghrelin. High ghrelin levels (which can result from an amino acid imbalance) contribute to increased hunger and lack of satiety after meals.
Indulging your craving for carbohydrates and sugar causes a temporary boost in certain neurotransmitters, which, in turn, can leave you vulnerable to the addictive properties inherent in these foods. Literally, they act like a drug. It is rare, for example, for someone to binge on broccoli, walnuts or apples. We have receptors in our bodies that know how to release satiety signals when we eat real food. But our bodies lack receptors for yellow dye #4 and hydrogenated oils, for example. We really can’t eat one potato chip because our bodies don’t tell us we’re full and satiated after eating processed foods.  We may feel sick to our stomach but our bodies don’t feel satisfied. We do, however, feel the neurotransmitter boost; so we feel better (briefly) but we want more carbs and sugar. If, however, amino acid imbalance is corrected, you might not crave that chip in the first place. You can have your amino acid levels checked through an easy saliva, urine or blood test.  Treatment can be a single amino acid therapy or an individualized, costume amino acid blend based upon your unique amino acid profile.
A few examples of amino acids that can help cravings or food addictions are:
  1. 5-HTP: decreases carbohydrate cravings.
  2. Tyrosine: decreases food cravings triggered by fatigue or inability to concentrate.
  3. N-acetylcysteine: this amino acid turns into the neurotransmitter glutamate. Low glutamate levels have been associated with addictive behaviors and contribute to strong food and drug cravings.
  4. GABA: decreases food cravings associated with stress or an overactive mind.
  5. Theanine: enhances the effect of GABA and can contribute to decreasing food cravings and addictions.
  6. Glutamine: can decrease sugar cravings almost instantly.
  7. Tryptophan: deficiencies can lead to overeating and food addictions.