There are many forms of addiction. Drugs are one major form of addiction which is a menace to society. Addiction to processed food is another menace not just to your body and health, it can also affect your family and all the other people close to you. Addiction to processed food can have a negative impact to society which is evident especially in the first world and industrialized countries. Since the introduction of processed foods and other ways of serving them, Americans have gone from an all natural food eating country to a fast food nation. Since the late 60s and early 70s, Americans have become bigger and bigger because of its food culture. Big servings of deep fried, sugar and salt laden food topped with more sugar, salt, grease and carbohydrates. Too much salt can result to raised blood pressure and you should be aware of the foods that contain hidden salt.
There is nothing wrong if you have a large serving of food as long as you have someone to share it with. The fast food culture pushed foods with too much sugar, salt and other preservatives to the masses for decades. And the result, people get obese with high risks of developing diabetes, heart ailments and other chronic diseases.
It’s Just Like Cocaine
A number of studies and research at leading government laboratories and Universities suggest that processed food and drinks rich in sugar are not just unhealthy, it can trick the brain in ways that resemble an addiction to nicotine, meth, cocaine and other drugs. The data are so solid and overwhelming that it has to be accepted by the general population as stated by Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She also said that they have found overlaps between drugs in the brain and food in the brain.
The idea of processed food to be addicting was barely discussed by experts and scientists a decade ago but experts are already taking notice now. A study that was made at the Boston’s Children Hospital have concluded that processed carbohydrates stimulate regions in the brain that affect cravings and promotes excess hunger. The study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical nutrition studied the effects of high-glycemic foods on brain activity using an FMRI. 12 obese and overweight men between the ages of 18 to 35 consumed one high–glycemic and one low-glycemic meal. The FMRI was performed four hours after each test meal.
According to the study, a high glycemic-index meal decreased plasma glucose, increased the person’s hunger and selectively stimulated brain regions that are associated with craving and reward. This research shows what many people experience, a spike in their blood sugar due to rapidly digested carbohydrates followed by a sharp crash a few hours after the spike. The FMRI also showed that a sharp crash in blood glucose can trigger a region in the brain known as the nucleus accumbens, which is linked to addictive behavior.
The Brain Goes Haywire
According to Dr. Robert Lustig, a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism and Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California has made his opinion regarding the research. He stated that the research can’t tell if it is a cause and effect relationship between eating specific foods and triggering brain responses or if those responses are linked to overeating and obesity but the evidence shows that the phenomenon is real. He also added that the brain’s pleasure center known as the nucleus accumbens is essential to human survival. Turn it off and humans will lose the will to live. But long term stimulation of this pleasure center drives the process of addiction. When a person consumes any substance of abuse this includes sugar, the nucleus accumbens receives a dopamine signal which in turn is can experience pleasure so the person tend to consume more. A person needs to consume more to get the same effect or high and when a person pulls back on the substance, withdrawal will occur. Tolerance and addiction results in addiction and it is proven that sugar is addictive.
Sugar and fats have always been present in the human diet and the human body is programmed to process them. What has changed is how modern manufacturers and producers create foods with high concentration of sugar, refined flour an unhealthy fats without the redeeming levels of nutrients, minerals and fibers. Consuming large quantities of these processed foods are changing how the brain is wired. The ball is on the consumers, it’s either they smart up or get drowned in processed food addiction.