According to an article on Bloomberg.com A growing volume of research is surfacing that may lead to the biggest consumer safety battle since the anti-smoking push against big tobacco according to Bloomberg.com. This isn’t an uprising against alcohol use, or caffeine, it is directed towards potent mind hijacking substances that are readily available at any convenience store, with no age limit. The culprit in question is processed food, which is not only unhealthy for the body, but can also cause drastic mind altering effects that are just recently being exposed to the public.
Lab studies that are testing these foods on animals are seeing addictive behavior comparable in effects to cocaine addiction. Brain scans carried out on the obese or overeaters are seeing damage to the brains reward pathways that also appear strikingly similar to drug addiction.
The $1 trillion food and beverage industry may be turned upside down as the evidence mounts and scientists collectively expose the industry for what it is, a group of incognito drug pushers. Twenty-eight studies concerning food addiction have been published during this year alone, which is a field that went virtually unrecognized for decades. This research could be the spark that leads to a heated battle of consumer vs. corporation, a battle that could change food as we know it forever.
Cigarettes were known to be harmful for the body for a very long time, but it was only until nicotine was proven to be addictive and companies were shown to be manipulating its concentration that a foundation for legal action was created. This turn of events is very similar to processed foods, we have always known they were “bad for you” but it is only now we are finding out their addictive properties on the brain, which brings the issue into an entirely new playing field.
Rates of obesity have shown an exponential increase in not only America, but also all around the world. Obesity is a dangerous physical symptom of the consumption of these addictive snacks and in the U.S., 1/3 of adults and 17 percent of minors exhibit this disorder.
Obesity has an immensely detrimental effect on society and a study in 2009 of 900,000 people concluded that moderate obesity decreases life expectancy by two to four years while severe cases of obesity reduce life expectancy up to 10 years. Obesity has been proven to increase the probability of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and stroke. The monetary cost of treating these obesity-induced ailments was estimated at $147 billion in 2008 alone.
Sugars and fats have always had their place in the human diet and the brain is wired to seek them, this is not an issue of concern. The problem with the highly processed food, which is a relatively new phenomenon, is that these food items contain little to no nutrients or fiber to compensate for their extreme levels of sugar, harmful fats and refined flour. Prolonged ingestion of this style of food has the potential to rewire the brain and alter brain chemistry in a way that is parallel to drug addiction.
Much like drug use, processed food causes a rapid release of dopamine in the brain. After this food has been consumed regularly, the brain becomes desensitized to its effects, which is known in the drug addiction field as tolerance. This requires the consumer to eat an increasing amount to maintain homeostasis.
A 2010 study conducted an assessment of processed foods addictive potential using rats and the results were jaw dropping. When the rats were given access to these foods for one hour a day they began binge eating, despite the fact nutritious food was of constant availability. When other rats were provided access to the processed food for 18 to 23 hours per day, they quickly became obese. Electrodes implanted in the reward regions of the rat’s brain measured activity that was identical to an increasing ingestion of cocaine. This means that damage to the reward centers of the brain is not only a characteristic of drug addiction, but also a symptom of consumption of the most widely available food in the United States.
Another study in 2010 analyzed the neurological effects of sweets on 26 overweight young women. The women were given sips of a milkshake comprised of Haagen-Dazs ice cream and Hershey Co. chocolate syrup on two different occasions spread six months apart. The women that had gained weight during the six month period showed a reduced reaction in the striatum, which is the area of the brain that recognizes reward. This supports the notion that increased consumption of these foods leads to a tolerance to the rewarding effect on the brain, which has the potential to cause escalating consumption.
Habitual processed food consumption not only causes a tolerance to the rewarding properties, but also a general decrease of dopamine receptors, which are the brains reward regulators. Much like drug addicts, this makes it difficult to find pleasure in activities that would normally release dopamine, such as exercise.
Psychologists at Princeton University examined the possibility of rats becoming addicted to sugar water that was 10 percent sugar, which is roughly the amount contained in a soft drink. Occasional sugar water was harmless to the rats; however, consequences became severe when they were given constant access. The rats drank an escalating amount of the sugar water while eating less of their typical diet, and when the addicted rats were withheld from their substance of choice, withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, shakes and tremors were noted. The rats did not develop obesity from the sugar water alone; however, they did when the sugar in the water was replaced with high-fructose corn syrup. In addition, the shift of levels of dopamine in the brain from both forms of sweetened water was eerily similar to the effects of drug addiction.
The most profound study of sugar addiction occurred in 2007 when French researchers concluded that rats actually favor sugar water over cocaine! Another study determined that women with questionable food habits exhibited distinct neurological effects when exposed to an image of a milkshake. During this test, the same exact brain regions that become stimulated in alcoholics expecting a drink were observed in the women.
Now that we have the data that proves the extreme addictive potential of these foods, the only next logical step is to seek retribution through litigation. These foods should be mandated to carry a Surgeon General’s warning much like those that are seen on cigarettes. The litigation against cigarettes should be a model for a food industry revolution. Cigarettes did not always carry warnings, it was a requirement implemented through incredible effort on the behalf of the consumer. Food sale has become an equally crooked market and the masterminds behind foods devolution must be brought to justice!
Filed under: Addiction, Latest News · Tags: addiction to food, binge eating, binge eating disorder, Cocaine Addiction, drug addiction, food addiction, food addiction study, junk food addiction, sugar addiction