Again, according to Dr. Barnard: Breaking the Food Seduction reveals the diet and litestyle
changes that can break these stubborn craving cycles. Using everyday examples,
questionnaires, and practical tips, the book delivers:
This accessible and practical book is essential reading for
anyone who wants to lose weight, lower cholesterol, feel more energetic, and
get control of their health once and for all.
Is cheddar cheese addictive? How about steak? Or Sugar? IS
there evidence that these foods might actually have brain effects that keep you
coming back, despite their health risks?
I think many people have experienced food addictions. Take
chocolate, for example. To some people, chocolate is an occasional treat. But
for a true chocolate addict, it is a deep-seated need. You know the ones who can't make it
past 3:00 with out a Kiss.
It turns out that chocolate does not merely tickle your
taste buds; it actually works inside your brain in much the same way opiate
drugs do. Researchers gave 26 volunteers a drug called naloxone, an
opiate-blocker used in emergency rooms to stop heroin, morphine, and other
narcotics from affecting the brain. It turned out that naloxone blocked much of
chocolate's appeal. When they offered volunteers a tray filled with Snicker's
bars, M & M's, chocolate chip cookies, and Oreos, chocolate was not much
more exciting than a crust of dry bread.
In other words, chocolate's attraction does not come simply
from its creamy texture or deep brown color. It appears to stimulate the same
part of the brain that morphine acts on. For all intents and purposes, it is a
drug—not necessarily a bad one and not a terribly strong one, but powerful
enough nonetheless to keep us coming back for more. Go figure! Now
you'll have to enter chocolate rehab.
Further research showed that when people are taken off meat,
dairy products, and other unhealthy fare, the desire for cheese, in particular,
lingers on much more strongly than for other foods.
In 1981, Eli Hazum and his colleagues at Wellcome Research
Laboratories in Research Triangle Park, N.C., reported a remarkable discovery.
Analyzing samples of cow's milk, they found traces of a chemical that looked
very much like morphine. They put it to one chemical test after another. And,
finally, they arrived at the conclusion that, in fact, it is morphine. There is
not a lot of it, and not every sample had detectable levels. But there is
indeed some morphine in both cow's milk and human milk.
Morphine, of course, is an opiate and is highly addictive.
So how did it get into milk? At first, the researchers theorized that it must
have come from the cows' diets. After all, morphine used in hospitals comes
from poppies and is also produced naturally by a few other plants that the cows
might have been eating. But it turns out that cows actually produce it within
their bodies, just as poppies do. Traces of morphine, along with codeine and
other opiates, are apparently produced in cows' livers and can end up in their
Cow's milk—or the milk of any other species, for that
matter—also contains a protein called casein that breaks apart during digestion
to release a whole host of opiates called casomorphins. A cup of cow's milk
contains about six grams of casein. Skim milk contains a bit more, and casein
is concentrated in the production of cheese.
When you drink a glass of milk or eat a slice of cheese,
stomach acid and intestinal bacteria snip the casein molecular chains into
casomorphins of various lengths. One of them, a short string made up of just
five amino acids, has about one-tenth the pain-killing potency of morphine.
What are these opiates doing there, hidden in milk proteins?
It appears that the opiates from mother's milk produce a calming effect on the
infant and, in fact, may be responsible for a good measure of the mother-infant
bond. No, it's not all lullabies and cooing. Psychological bonds always have a
physical underpinning. Like it or not, mother's milk has a drug-like effect on
the baby's brain that ensures that the baby will bond with Mom and continue to
nurse and get the nutrients all babies need.
Like heroin or codeine, casomorphins slow intestinal
movements and have a decided antidiarrheal effect. The opiate effect may be why
adults often find that cheese can be constipating, just as opiate painkillers
If you are hooked on sugar, chocolate, cheese, or meat, what
do you do about it?
Dr. Barnard believes foods can actually come to your rescue.
If you start your day with a good breakfast, hunger is less likely to fuel
cravings. And if your lunch, dinner, and snacks include foods that keep your
blood sugar steady throughout the day—beans, green vegetables, unprocessed
grains, and fruits, for example, instead of sugary foods or white bread—you'll
be less likely to dip into unhealthy foods later on.
He also recommends eating enough food, so that your
appetite-taming hormone leptin is working right. Leptin shuts down whenever you
go on a starvation diet, leaving your appetite out of control. Exercise, rest,
and social support all help, too.
Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine tests positive for opiates from her poppy-seed muffins.
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