Food Addict: Babies recognize their “sugar dealers”
How to Control Those Cravings
Written by Peter Sosa (The Addictions Academy Guest Blogger)
Since so many of my clients struggle with sugar cravings, weight issues, and late night snack binges. I stress the importance of informing the public about certain chemicals in foods called exorphins. These additives can act as addictive as drugs and understanding how they work in the body may help develop strategies to improve your health.
You need to know a little bit about exorphins because the maker of processed food or big food as I like to call them, know all about these chemicals. In fact they manipulate ingredients to stimulate our appetites and initiate an addictive cycle of overeating and subsequent disease states. Knowing about these foods can help you control overeating.
No food group has been studied more for opioid activity than dairy, particularly cheese. The protein in dairy known as casein is digested into smaller peptides containing families of active agents called casomorphins. The desire for cheese can be blocked by the same medicines used to reverse drug overdoses in emergency rooms!
Americans eat five times as much cheese as a few decades ago. In fact studies show often with every meal of the day. Big food knows that the dairy drives the desire for more dairy and larger sales. My clients who are trying to become vegan tell me that the hardest food to give up is cheese. I have found weaning them slowly off this food group to be the most effective.
The blood in meat contains albumin, hemoglobin, and gamma globulin. All of these chemicals activate opioid receptors. When meat eaters were treated with a drug used to block opiate receptors, meat consumption fell by 50%!
Wheat and Rice
Gliadin is a protein in wheat that has opiate activity and is sometimes referred to as gliadorphin. Gliadins and gluten are essential for giving bread the ability to rise properly during baking. Gliadins and glutinins are the two main components of the gluten fraction of the wheat seed. There is a protein in rice that produces similar effects. If you can’t stop reaching for the bread bowl its most likely because of this feel-good chemical trap.
Sugar and fat
Headlines worldwide last fall reported on a study in rats showing a preference for Oreo cookies used for their high sugar and fat content that was similar to providing the rat’s cocaine and morphine. Actually prior studies in humans had already shown the opioid like effects of missing sugar and fat (think: Donut) that could be reversed with narcotic blockers.
A similar study was conducted over a decade ago when researchers studied what happened when you gave a three month old baby a sugary treat while staring in their eyes. The ontogeny of face recognition [Dev Psychol. 2001] – PubMed – NCBI. When a group of people entered into the room including the adult who fed the baby sugar water, the baby scanned and focused only on the “sugar dealer,” demonstrating how early in life sugar addiction can be identified. Sugar and fat may be the reason that chocolate is a food that has been described to have addictive potential.
So what can you do?
Avoid temptation by not having so many items at home or in the office loaded with dairy, meat, refined wheat, sugar, and fat. Replace these foods with blood sugar stabilizing foods like beans, nuts, seeds, whole fruits, and whole grains. Start each day with a healthy balanced breakfast (foods low in exorphins). Educate friends and family on the importance of their support to not bring “Crack” like foods to your home or work place. Focus on getting endorphins in your daily lifestyle. A good example is exercise. Science has demonstrated that we can produce narcotic like chemicals in our brains during pleasurable moments.