Biology behind the quick-fix trap | Functional Nutrition Lab

Why we crave the quick-fix


As you may know, I’ve identified 5 traps that we as dedicated, compassionate practitioners fall into while striving to do our best work.

One of the most seductive of these traps is the Quick-Fix Trap.

Yeah, that one.

This is the trap that has you (and your clients!) pining for the magic bullet. The miracle pill. Or even the one root cause that, when removed, will fix everything.

But the endless search for the quick-fix is a trap, because the quick-fix simply doesn’t exist for the chronic ailments your clients are suffering from.

So why do we, and they, keep searching for something that doesn’t exist?

Biology behind the quick-fix trap

To understand the biology behind the Quick-Fix Trap, let’s take a look at your brain on sugar…

When you eat sugar, your brain produces the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine triggers neurons in the body’s pleasure system, and…you guessed it, you feel great! For a short time, that is, until the stimulus wears off and you need another ‘hit.’

Dopamine is a “pleasure and reward” chemical produced in several areas of the brain. Dopamine production reinforces certain behaviors because it makes us feel so darn good! This sense of joy and gratification are part of how we understand the mechanisms behind addiction.

The same reward happens when you get a text from someone you really want to hear from. Or a ‘Like’ on Facebook or Instagram. Dopamine rushes into your bloodstream, and you feel good…for a minute.

The quick-fix runs on the same circuitry as sugar and social media validation—it promises a hit of dopamine.

But, as you now know, it’s an empty promise.

So how do we outsmart the Quick-Fix Trap and the endless craving for the dopamine hit?

Fill your dopamine tank (and your clients’) in healthy, sustainable ways.

One of the best ways to make a lasting dietary change is to crowd out—to take the space in your diet where the cookie or the cupcake used to reside, and fill it with something healthy and yummy. (No, I’m not suggesting you replace a cupcake with a shot of wheatgrass.)

We can do the same with the Quick-Fix Trap.

Top Tips for Cultivating Dopamine and Embracing the Journey!

We can crowd it out by getting our dopamine in other ways. Here are a few of my favorite ways to cultivate dopamine production naturally…

  • Fat Soluble Vitamins—Some more recent studies have shown that vitamin D is dopaminergic. It works as a dopamine agonist, helping to reduce obesity and addictive behaviors. I like to think of this in relation to the actions of all the fat soluble vitamins, particularly vitamins A and D, and prefer, first and foremost, to get these through fatty fishes, sunshine, and when, necessary (and accordingly to test results), from fermented cod liver oil. (*)
  • Vitamin B6—This nutrient is also key in helping to convert L-Dopa to dopamine (as well as other neurotransmitters in the catecholamine family.) Fish, beef liver and organ meats are great sources of B6.(*)
  • Protein—If we back it up even further, good protein sources contain the amino acid tyrosine, which is the precursor to that L-Dopa. This is your starting place! Be sure (through careful Food/Mood/Poop Tracking) that your client’s diet contains ample protein for their needs. There’s no need to measure or count ounces or grams, just be sure (for starters) that each meal or snack contains some protein. Salmon, eggs, avocados, turkey, chicken and even spirulina contain ample tyrosine!
  • Mucuna Puriens—I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the powerful velvet seed or cowhage seed, an ancient herbal nutrient known to activate dopamine production. I like to introduce a powdered form in smoothies or elixirs as opposed to supplementing with Macuna for most individuals.

(*) Please note that I pay heed to the principles of bioindividuality. No two people are alike. In many instances, it’s important to ‘test, not guess’ when bringing in supplementation, to be sure you know what other supplements or medications your client or patient is taking (there may be contraindications), and not to take a Quick-Fix approach, even when crowding out. If the dopamine agonists mentioned here are not within your scope of practice, please stick with food first. Take-away: Remove sugar (dopamine depleting) and add protein (dopamine supportive.)

The best part? When you fill your dopamine tank (and help your clients to do the same), you’ll have the ability to think long-term. You’ll be less likely to jump at the latest ‘miracle cure,’ or to try and please your clients with instant solutions. You’ll be able to serve your clients by sitting calmly in the seat of leadership.

And you won’t crave the entire batch of gluten-free thumbprint cookies either!

 

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Functional nutritionist and educator Andrea Nakayama (FNLP, MSN, CNC, CNE, CHHC) is leading patients and practitioners around the world in a revolution to reclaim ownership over our own health. Her passion for food as personalized medicine was born from the loss of her young husband to a brain tumor in 2002. She’s now regularly consulted as the nutrition expert for the toughest clinical cases in the practices of many world-renowned doctors, and trains a thousand practitioners online each year in her methodologies at Functional Nutrition Lab. Learn more about Andrea here.

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