Shedding Light in the Darkness

Cheese Addiction Like a Drug


Who knew that cheese was so addictive? A new study from the University of Michigan suggests cheese crack is a real thing. Cheese is especially addictive because of called casein, a protein found in all milk products. During digestion, casein releases casomorphins opiates.  A number of studies have revealed that casomorphins lock with opioid receptors, which are linked with the control of pain, reward and addiction in the brain.

Dr Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine said that casein ‘breaks apart during digestion to release a whole host of opiates called casomorphins. Since cheese is processed to express out all the liquid, it’s an incredibly concentrated source of casomorphins—you might call it dairy crack.”

As far back as the 1980′s researchers have known that cheese contains trace amounts of morphine. In 1981, Eli Hazum at Wellcome Research Laboratories reported cheese contained traces of the highly addictive opiate morphine. Morphine is found in cow’s milk and human milk, purportedly to ensure  offspring will bond very strongly with their mothers and get all the nutrients they need to grow.

Published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the study, examined why certain foods are more addictive than others. Researchers identified addictive foods from about 500 students who completed an addiction scale. Pizza came out on top of the most addictive food list – because of the cheese.

The researchers noted: We propose that highly processed foods share pharmacokinetic properties (e.g. concentrated dose, rapid rate of absorption) with drugs of abuse, due to the addition of fat and/or refined carbohydrates and the rapid rate the refined carbohydrates are absorbed into the system, indicated by glycemic load (GL). The current study provides preliminary evidence for the foods and food attributes implicated in addictive-like eating.

And concluded: The current study provides preliminary evidence that not all foods are equally implicated in addictive-like eating behavior, and highly processed foods, which may share characteristics with drugs of abuse (e.g. high dose, rapid rate of absorption) appear to be particularly associated with “food addiction.”

Americans, on average, eat 34 pounds a year of cheese – that’s more than half a pound per week.

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