Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Are You a Junk Food Addict? Part II

This is a continuation of yesterday's post regarding junk food addiction.

So you wonder how food could be like cocaine?  Think about this:

Think about these foods (and many others), stuffed crust pizza, double-fudge ice cream, French fries, over-sized pastries, etc and what makes them so enjoyable - sugar, fat, etc. These ingredients stoke the brain's reward center the way whole, fresh foods in their natural state do not.  Ashley Gearhardt, a food addiction researcher and assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, has said, "These foods are engineered for you to crave and eat compulsively. Compared to, say, a piece of fruit, the sugar in jelly beans is more pure and potent, and it hits your system faster because there's no fiber and other ingredients to slow it down." Gearhardt continued by saying, "When you punch up the reward and speed (it's absorption by the body), it becomes so powerful it hijacks the (brain's) reward system.

A key driver of the reward system is the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is released in the brain when we experience something pleasurable such as food, sex, and drugs. Dopamine is a reward that makes the body want to do it again. But when the reward system gets pinged so repeatedly, it gets so overstimulated that it starts to automatically dial back the response. And thus begins the vicious cycle. When the body doesn't feel as big a reward, called tolerance, you consume greater amounts in search of the reward.

Be aware and don't allow your body to become addicted to junk food!

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