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Role of Transcendental Meditation in overcoming food addiction: Pamela Peeke, MD
by Global Good News staff writer

Global Good News    Translate This Article
8 February 2013

The second featured speaker at a recent conference in the USA on integrative medicine, titled The New Science of Meditation and Self-Healing: Transcendental Meditation and Mind-Body Medicine, was Pamela Peeke, MD.

An internationally recognized expert, physician, scientist, and author in the fields of nutrition, stress, fitness, and public health, Dr Peeke was introduced by conference host Brian Berman, MD, founder and director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland, following the first presentation, by eminent psychiatrist, researcher, and author Norman Rosenthal, MD.

Click here to read more about the conference and Dr Rosenthal's presentation.

Dr Peeke is assistant professor of medicine at University of Maryland School of Medicine. In addition she is chief lifestyle expert for WebMD TV, and chief medical correspondent for nutrition and fitness for Discovery Health TV, Dr Berman said. As a Pew Foundation Scholar in Nutrition and Metabolism during her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California at Davis, and then as the first physician to serve as Senior Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine, Dr Peeke conducted research in the newly evolving field of integrative medicine.

Beginning her presentation, Dr Peeke explained that only in the last six years has there been enough research compiled on the addictive nature of certain foods to reach a 'tipping point'. The volume of current research gave her the opportunity to bring out her latest book, The Hunger Fix, which within five days of publication became a New York Times bestseller. With this heightened interest in the influence of food in our lives she anticipates a significant study at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland to look at the clinical aspects of food and addiction.

In her book Dr Peeke brought out the underlying theme that the same mechanics are involved in all addictive behaviour. In terms of what we eat, she said, 'hyper-palatable' foods are the issue—the sugary, fatty, salty ingredients, commonly found in highly processed foods, that a person doesn't want to stop eating and that can lead to dependency. Society today has veered away from whole foods and tended more towards hyper-palatable combinations, she said.

The neurotransmitter dopamine, a pleasure/reward chemical in the brain, is geared to be able to handle a certain amount of pleasure. When there is a continual tsunami of dopamine, due to a constant overload, changes take place in the brain, Dr Peeke explained. When the brain is not functioning properly, choice and will power disappear. These latest discoveries on the dynamics of food addiction show us we need a different approach, she said.

The brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex, needs to recover, and for that time is needed. This is where Transcendental Meditation can be very useful, she said.

A woman in the audience was the 'living embodiment' of someone who had recently turned her life around, and also had recently become a teacher of Transcendental Meditation—a very gracious professional woman who not that long ago weighed 400 pounds. This woman, in Dr Peeke's words, represents the 'practical application of dealing with food addiction through the use of Transcendental Meditation'.

In her practice Dr Peeke conducted two small pilot experiments through the Transcendental Meditation Center in Bethesda, Maryland. All subjects in both studies were classified as addicted to food, according to the parameters of the Yale University 'food addiction assessment'.

In the beginning all subjects learned Transcendental Meditation. Each study lasted eight weeks in order to give the subjects time to adapt to their practice of Transcendental Meditation and to see what effects it had on their ability to stay vigilant and focused, and 'rein in impulsivity'.

What she found was 'astounding', she said. People practising Transcendental Meditation were not only able to stay calmer, but they were also able to think—rather than impulsively 'jump into the next activity', whatever it might be.

Global Good News will feature more about Dr Pamela Peeke's conference presentation, at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland.

Copyright © 2013 Global Good News Service

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