Have you ever been unable to stop eating French fries? Do you know why this phenomenon occurs? There are foods that are addictive and are not healthy foods .
In this article we list these foods and explain what happens to the body when we eat them. In this way you will be aware of the possible dangers of its consumption . Find out too!
What are addictive foods?
Several studies have shown that foods rich in refined fats and sugars can have a drug-like effect on the body . These foods are more likely to trigger addictive biological and behavioral reactions due to the abnormally high reward levels they present.
How do addictive foods work?
It is rare for addictive foods to be in their natural state. For example, there are natural foods that contain sugars, such as fruit, or others that naturally contain fats, such as nuts, but it is rare that sugars and fats are naturally present in the same food.
For ultra-processed foods , sugars, trans fats, refined flours and refined oils are added , in order to increase palatability and the power to create addiction. In general, the higher the concentration of the responsible agent within a substance, the greater the addictive power of the latter. For example:
- L ‘ waterhas little or no power to create addiction.
- Beer , whichcontains an average of 5% ethanol, is more likely to be addictive.
- A liquorcontains a higher dose of ethanol, between 20 and 75%: consequently, it is more likely to be addictive than beer.
Another factor that is important to consider is the fact that ultra-processed foods are more likely to induce a spike in blood sugar than natural foods . This is important because there is a known link between glucose levels and the activation of areas of the brain associated with addiction.
For example, the body will absorb the sugar contained in a highly processed, high-glycemic index food, such as a chocolate bar, more quickly than the natural sugars found in a banana.
This phenomenon is due to the fact that the banana has not been subjected to an industrial process and, although it contains sugars, it also has fiber, protein and water, which slow down the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream .
What foods are addictive?
As we said before, ultra-processed foods are the most addictive, due to their ingredients. However, there are some exceptions, represented by poorly processed foods, which can be addictive due to the presence of a specific ingredient.
In a study published in Plos One , the most addictive foods were found to be:
- Potato chips.
- Buttered popcorn.
We are sure that reading this list will make your mouth water, since it is about foods that are high in calories, fats and sugars, as well as remarkably appetizing . Also, MSG is added to many of these foods.
Monosodium glutamate is a widely used food seasoning in the food industry. It seems that glutamate can affect the hypothalamic regulation of appetite, causing us to eat larger amounts than we would need.
Milk chocolate can be addictive due to its fat and sugar content. And the pure cocoa? Cocoa contains anandamide, a substance that binds to cannabinoid receptors.
Furthermore, some observations indicate that women’s propensity for chocolate is cyclical and hormone-dependent. In fact, many women crave sweets and chocolate, the consumption of which tends to increase around the menstrual cycle.
Can’t stop eating cheese? Not surprising, as cheese does contain some addictive and pain-relieving substances , as reported in this article.
Cheese, through its processes of fermentation, heat treatment or enzymatic hydrolysis, contains a high concentration of proteins derived from milk, such as caseins, which have a high potential for the production of peptides with the effects of opioids. These peptides are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, bind to opioid receptors and give rise to analgesic and calming effects on the nervous system.
There are several opioid peptides that originate from milk proteins. However, those that have been most associated with cheese addiction are those of the ?-casomorphin group.
More than a real addiction, coffee is capable of inducing a psychological habit, since caffeine is very similar, from a chemical point of view, to another molecule present in the brain, adenosine, even if it has different functions.
Adenosine interacts with its specific receptor, creating a feeling of fatigue in the body. Caffeine is so structurally similar to adenosine that it can cross receptors in the brain , blocking adenosine binding.
A person who consumes a lot of coffee and stops drinking it suddenly will feel mentally confused and may experience headaches. This reaction occurs because brain chemistry is bound to change after prolonged exposure to caffeine.
There are foods that are addictive
Many diets contain foods that can be addictive. In particular, simple sugars and trans fats, in addition to being harmful to health, have this ability . For this reason, it is good to limit its consumption.