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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chips, Cookies, Cocaine & Heroin

Like big business and big government big food is out to kill you make you an addict.

That's right - a food addict.  Like any had drug certain types of food trigger biological responses in your brain that make your crave more - so, surprise - you'll buy more.  (They really don't want you to die from their products - then you wouldn't buy more.)

"There are specific biological mechanisms that drive addictive behavior. Nobody chooses to be a heroin addict, coke head, or drunk. Nobody chooses to be fat, either. The behaviors arise out of primitive neurochemical reward centers in the brain that override normal willpower and overwhelm our ordinary biological signals that control hunger..."

And here are some of the scientific findings (links to studies in the link above) confirming that food can, indeed, be addictive:

  • Sugar stimulates the brain's reward centers through the neurotransmitter dopamine, exactly like other addictive drugs.
  • Brain imagining (PET scans) shows that high-sugar and high-fat foods work just like heroin, opium, or morphine in the brain.
  • Brain imaging (PET scans) shows that obese people and drug addicts have lower numbers of dopamine receptors, making them more likely to crave things that boost dopamine.
  • Foods high in fat and sweets stimulate the release of the body's own opioids (chemicals like morphine) in the brain.
  • Drugs we use to block the brain's receptors for heroin and morphine (naltrexone) also reduce the consumption and preference for sweet, high-fat foods in both normal weight and obese binge eaters.
  • People (and rats) develop a tolerance to sugar -- they need more and more of the substance to satisfy themselves -- just like they do for drugs of abuse like alcohol or heroin.
  • Obese individuals continue to eat large amounts of unhealthy foods despite severe social and personal negative consequences, just like addicts or alcoholics.
  • Animals and humans experience "withdrawal" when suddenly cut off from sugar, just like addicts detoxifying from drugs.
  • Just like drugs, after an initial period of "enjoyment" of the food, the user no longer consumes them to get high but to feel normal.
Just like cigarettes, cocaine and heroin "industrial foods" are designed to make you an addict. 

Its simple - high-sugar and high-fat foods work just like heroin.  Heroin bonds to your bodies own opioid receptors.  Sugar and high-fat food trigger your body to release its own opioids which bond with the same receptors.  Hence the wrong diet makes you dependent on food to get that "heroin high" that gets you through the day.

The proof of this is drugs that block the brain's receptors for heroin or morphine also reduce the consumption and preference for sweet, high-fat foods in both normal weight and obese binge eaters.

Is this any different than cigarettes?  Nope...

Is this even new?  

Nope - see this web page for the history of other addictive consumer products.

In fact, Paregoric an opium derivative, was available it the state where I live without a prescription until 1970.  I know people who swear that their adulthood drug problems stem from the use of this by their parents to calm their childhood ills.

"Little Johnny's crying in his crib because his tooth hurts, I'll swab some paregoric on it..."

"Here little Suzy, have another cookie, it will make you feel better..."

In either case the seeds for addiction were planted very early in life.

But fear not, you can over come these issues.  

It takes some work and determination but you can do it.

Here's a list of 50 blogs related to beating food addiction.  Or you could ask my "old lady".  She's lost close to 50 pounds based on her own scientific researches over the last many months.

I think the crucial point is to break out of the consumer-based mentality.  You are what you eat and eating the latest food wonders pushed out by "big food" is not the way to go.

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