Monday, February 3, 2014

Addiction to junk food: More than meets the eye

Addiction to junk food: More than meets the eye
Apr 7, 2013 | Eleni Roumeliotou \
"By designing and selling addictive, low quality and disease-promoting products, Big Food has achieved the unthinkable: to create a dedicated army of health-compromised, addicted fans, whose cognitive, biochemical and even genetic potential to break free of their addiction is hijacked before birth."
When it comes to processed food, excessive amounts of sugar and hydrogenated fats is the rule rather than the exception. It is no secret anymore that there is a very distinct thread linking the increased consumption of such foods, coupled with relentless advertising campaigns and the epidemic proportions of diabetes and obesity in all age groups on a global scale. In fact, if current trends continue, it is estimated that by 2030, more than 86% of Americans will be either overweight or obese. For some people, this picture looks dreadful enough already, but the truth is that it barely scratches the surface of the problem.

Neurobiology research has shown that food can cause serious addiction, the kind that addictive drugs do. Dr Nicole Avena and her colleagues from the department of Psychiatry, University of Florida, report that the consumption of sugar not only alters brain function and behavior, but it also elicits the same type of withdrawal symptoms like opiate drugs do. In other words, sugar affects the opioid receptors in the brain, which are recognized by natural (endogenous or not) opioid substances. On the other hand, foods rich in fat seem to affect the brain in a different way, although they cause withdrawal-type symptoms as well. Many studies show that there is a unique relationship between emotional balance and fatty acids.

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