Tuesday, November 10, 2009
As if you didn't already know this, but did you know that junk food is literally addictive in precisely the same way that cocaine and heroin are addictive? Now we have solid, positive proof, thanks to researchers at Scripps Research Institute in Florida and their team of brave (now obese) little lab rats. The rats were given unlimited access to all kinds of high-fat, calorie-dense food that is commonly available in convenience stores. The rats because compulsive overeaters when pleasure pathways in their brains became less and less sensitive, causing them to gorge themselves more and more to get the same high. Even when they were subjected to a mild shock in order to have access to the junk food, they still went for it.
Then, according to Paul Kenny, an associate professor of molecular therapeutics at Scripps, "after 40 days of becoming more and more addicted (and obese), the rats were switched to a nutritious food pellet, they refused to eat anything at all, even though they were clearly starving."
The act of refining the food is what makes it so addictive. Our bodies evolved with whole foods that needed to be broken down through digestive processes before the foods' nutrients and sugars could be released. Cocaine is only addictive because of this refining process, too. The leaves, when chewed by natives, supposedly give a high similar to coffee. But, when refined, the same chemical becomes a life-consuming addiction. Same with heroin or alcohol, same with sugar, same with any refined product.
When you think about it, this principle applies just as well to experiences. Anything, really, that gives you a good feeling. Painting, music, conversation with someone you love, love itself, nature, anything.
So choose your addictions wisely! They're just another fact of life. Healthy addictions can be cultivated to your benefit and enhance your well-being.