In one of my post popular articles, I dove deep into the mire of just why so many of us are addicted to food. This subject is fascinating on both a molecular and individual level.1,2,3,4 There are so many factors which go into food addiction.5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13 And most of them go totally unnoticed, to most people.14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22 The pervasiveness of advertising, the purposely addictive nature of processed foods, and the stressful nature of modern life is just too much for most of us to stay healthy.23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32 Of course, new research has emerged on this topic, since an entire calendar year has passed since I wrote my first piece on food addiction – and some of it is quite startling.33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,
But perhaps most troublingly, many scientists are still trying to fight the notion that food addiction even exists.41,42,43 I’m alarmed, offended and angry about this continued hemming and hawing (no doubt influenced by industry) – and you should be too. In simplest terms, go ask the average person following a Standard American Diet (SAD) if they feel addicted to food. I would bet everything I own that their answer would be a resounding “yes.”44,45 No one wants to be obese, and unquestionably some level of addiction is underlying our obesity pandemic.46,47,48,49,50,51 52,53,54,55 Certainly there are also other factors, which I’ve also written about, (like leptin resistance) that happen as a result of poor food choices compounded over time.56,57,58,59,60,61,62,63,64
It is my generation who is now having to pay for all the poor choices made by prior ones, and now more than 66% of adults are overweight or obese.65 Four years ago researchers knew that “there are a number of shared neural and hormonal pathways…that may help researchers discover why certain individuals continue to overeat despite health and other consequences”.66 And yet, some scientists refuse to even acknowledge people are addicted to food! It is maddening.
The results of food addiction are happening here and now.67,68 We see them every day on the way to work, at the store, in society, and even glamorized in popular media. Certainly, no one should be ‘fat shamed’ – but we shouldn’t be celebrating obesity either. Food addiction is just as sad as drug addiction – it is just destructive over a longer period of time, rather than acutely.69,70,71 As science shows, the same neurobiological pathways that are implicated in drug abuse also modulate food consumption.72,73
Or how about the scientific paper which showed that Oreo cookies were as addictive as cocaine?74 Again, you will find some scientists hemming and hawing, but the reality, the way the science translates into our everyday lives, shows clear addiction. Do you feel like you need to eat the whole bag of broccoli? Obviously not. For most, vegetables are a chore. But it sure is easy to eat a whole box of Oreos! In fact, many find it hard not to.75 Does this sound addictive to you?
Then we have the case of researchers “curing binge eating” by modulating dopamine receptors.76 Why is this notable? Because by altering the brain’s response to rewarding food, we can stop the cravings/addiction! This really hammers home the point that food can be addictive, and that it is not just an innocent bystander that some people (66% of all adults, if you’re keeping track) can’t seem to stop consuming. If you wants to know more of the deep molecular mechanisms and psychology behind eating, I have also written on this very subject.
And what is one of the most addictive, and least healthy habits in the world? Soda. The less soda you drink, the great weight loss you see.77,78,79 Even artificial sweeteners have shown rewarding mechanisms in the brain.80,81,82,83,84 Interestingly, new research has shown that a hormone deficiency in the brain may also be causing overeating.85,86,87 This is in addition to new research which shows that ‘bad’ genes may also play a role in overconsumption.88,89,90,91,92
Clearly, food addiction is a real problem, which needs to be fixed as soon as possible.93,94 The future of (a healthy) human world…sort of depends on it. A Paleo diet is one of the best ways to go cold turkey, and stop food addiction in its tracks. By eating nutrient dense foods, sleeping soundly, and managing stress, we are taking proactive steps to avoiding food addiction and obesity.95,96 97,98,99,100
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