I was reading Mark’s Daily Apple today and two of his points on why we make bad (food) decisions really struck a chord.  They were about addictions to wheat & sugar.

To Wheat.

Wheat actually contains opioid peptides which may activate opioid receptors in our bodies – just like opium, morphine, and heroin. (And there is no one more devoted than a drug addict!) While research into this is still very preliminary – you won’t find any ironclad evidence stating wheat is addictive – the thinking is that  wheat addiction may manifest as a stubborn lingering thing – we’ve all heard someone say “Oh, I could never give up my bread!” – well, maybe they can’t!

Mark reports on some research papers that show evidence  of multiple opioid peptides in wheat gluten, suggests that they are capable of binding to brain opioid receptors via a “plausible biomechanical mechanism,” and deems them of “physiological significance” – startling stuff indeed.  He also mentions “Dr. Emily Deans, of Evolutionary Psychiatry, has actually used naltrexone – a drug that blocks opiate receptors – to curb wheat cravings in celiac patients who are trying to kick the “habit.” “

Wheat plays a huge role in the “Conventional Wisdom’ diets of western nations. If you were addicted to drugs you could get government help to give them up – but this is one addiction only you can deal with.

Or sugar.

(Straight from Mark’s blog)

Similarly to wheat, sugar has addictive properties. A review of the rat studies shows that rodents will become quite addicted to sugar rather quickly, at times even choosing it over pharmaceutical-grade cocaine. There’s evidence that the addictive properties affect humans, too. As with wheat, naltrexone has been shown to reduce the rewarding properties of sugar in people. When you block the opiate receptors in the brain, sugar simply isn’t as rewarding and you’re not driven to consume as much of it. 

Sugar appears to be addictive in both rats and humans. You, being a human, could very well be drawn to make bad decisions about sweets because you are addicted to them.

 

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