|English: Double Stuf Oreos, by Nabisco. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
By Dr. Mercola
When you eat refined processed sugars, they trigger production of your brain's natural opioids -- a key ingredient in the addiction process. Your brain essentially becomes addicted to stimulating the release of its own opioids as it would to morphine or heroin.This addictive nature of sugar and processed food has again been confirmed by a psychology professor and a team of students at the College of Connecticut,1, 2who showed that Oreo cookies are just as addictive as cocaine or morphine.The study, which was designed to investigate the potential addictiveness of high-fat/high-sugar foods, also found that eating Oreos activated more neurons in the rat brain’s pleasure center than exposure to illicit drugs did. According to professor Schroeder:“Our research supports the theory that high-fat/ high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do. It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”The idea for the study originated with neuroscience major Jamie Honohan, who wanted to know how the high prevalence of junk foods in low-income neighborhoods might contribute to the obesity epidemic.Indeed, it’s quite revealing to note that, in contrast to third-world countries, in the US the poorest people have the highest obesity rates. This seeming contradiction is, I believe, a clear indication that the problem stems from the diet itself.Something in the cheapest and most readily available foods is creating metabolic havoc, and that’s exactly what researchers keep finding. As reported by Connecticut college:“...Oreos activated significantly more neurons than cocaine or morphine. 'This correlated well with our behavioral results and lends support to the hypothesis that high-fat/ high sugar foods can be thought of as addictive,' said Schroeder.And that could be a problem for the general public, says Honohan. ‘Even though we associate significant health hazards in taking drugs like cocaine and morphine, high-fat/ high-sugar foods may present even more of a danger because of their accessibility and affordability,’ she said.”Please note that I do not agree with the comment that everything that is considered high-fat is bad for you. Oreo cookies and virtually every other processed snack are bad because they use highly processed omega-6 vegetable oils, the wrong type of fat. However it is possible to make a healthy high-fat snack using oils like coconut oil.
Processed Foods Are DESIGNED to Be Addictive
Indeed, scientific research into the addictive nature of certain foods, combined with shocking “insider” exposés,3 tells us that Americans are not necessarily lacking in self control when it comes to their food consumption. Rather, food companies have perfected food concoctions that are addictive. And they know it.Most people blindly believe that food companies will do the right thing; that they would never produce food that might be toxic or harmful. This, we’ve learned is not the case.The food industry is well aware of its role in creating obesity, and they’re not ignorant as to the reason why Americans can’t seem to get enough junk food. They even insist on selling foods to the American market with ingredients that have been banned for health reasons in other countries...Most processed foods are actually created to be addictive—whether we’re talking about cookies or pasta sauce—through the masterful use of addictive ingredients like salt, fat, sugar and a wide variety of proprietary flavorings.In a previous New York Times article,4 investigative reporter Michael Moss wrote about the extraordinary science behind taste and junk food addiction, and how multinational food companies struggle to maintain their “stomach shares” in the face of mounting evidence that their foods are driving the health crisis.In it he mentions a 1999 meeting between 11 CEOs in charge of America’s largest food companies, including Kraft, Nabisco, General Mills, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Mars, where their role in the increasingly poor health of Americans was addressed head-on. Moss writes in part:“James Behnke, a 55-year-old executive at Pillsbury... was engaged in conversation with a group of food-science experts who were painting an increasingly grim picture of the public’s ability to cope with the industry’s formulations —
From the body’s fragile controls on overeating to the hidden power of some processed foods to make people feel hungrier still. It was time, he and a handful of others felt, to warn the C.E.O.’s that their companies may have gone too far in creating and marketing products that posed the greatest health concerns.“
SHOCKING! EU Approves Health Claim for Fructose
With everything we now know about the metabolic disaster that is fructose, it’s absolutely SHOCKING to learn that the European Union has approved a health claim for fructose,5 slated to take effect as of 2014. Many of my readers are scattered through the EU nations, and for you, understanding the ramifications of this label is crucial.
As of 2014, food manufacturers that replace at least 30 percent of the glucose and/or sucrose content in their food with fructose will be allowed to put a health claim on their product, stating that it has a positive effect on carbohydrate metabolism and insulin sensitivity.There’s no doubt in my mind that such a health claim will promote an avalanche of chronic disease, as food manufacturers start switching from the lesser to the greater of two evils... As reported by Ingredients Network:6“[F]ood and beverage manufacturers can expect a healthy upward surge in sales for products with fructose from the 2nd of January 2014 when the European Union’s fructose health claim comes into effect. ...[T]he fructose declaration promises to be truly ground breaking for food and beverage manufacturers. Manufacturers who substitute at least 30 percent of glucose or sucrose with fructose can now claim that‘Consumption of foods containing fructose leads to a lower blood glucose rise compared to foods containing sucrose or glucose.’ ...fructose’s ability to emphasize fruity flavors also makes the news particularly favorable for manufacturers of beverages, fruit preparations, fruit flavored ice-cream, yogurts and more.
Since the EU’s game-changing step, validating fructose benefits, the industry’s attention has focused with increased urgency on the opportunities presented by incorporating non-GMO crystalline fructose into different food and beverages products...”
Why Fructose Is Worse for You Than Other Sugars
One of the primary problems with refined fructose is that it is isocaloric but not isometabolic. What this means is that while you can have the same amount of calories from fructose or any other nutrient, including glucose, the metabolic effect will be entirely different despite the identical calorie count.While it is true that refined fructose creates a lower glycemic response immediately after eating it, compared to sucrose or glucose, to say that it is therefore healthier for you is a gross and seriously misleading claim that wholly ignores its overall metabolic consequences.In short, the fact that refined fructose produces a lower immediate glycemic response is completely irrelevant, because the overall metabolic effects are far more destructive. In my view, this label is dangerous, and may set the EU up for an out-of-control spiral of chronic disease.Refined fructose actually affects your body in ways similar to alcohol, hence the rise in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease—and, again, addiction. Fructose and ethanol both have immediate, narcotic effects associated with their dopaminergic properties. In the same way that alcohol can lead to the downward spiral of compulsive overconsumption, fructose tends to generate an insatiable and intense sensation of pleasurable sweetness, often driving us to consume far more than our body can handle; even while it damages multiple organ systems.The EU Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies even spells out the consequences in their Opinion paper,7 while still agreeing with the proposed health claim for fructose:“The Panel considers that in order to bear the claim, glucose or sucrose should be replaced by fructose in sugar sweetened foods or beverages. The target population is individuals who wish to reduce their post-prandial glycaemic responses. The Panel notes that high intakes of fructose may lead to metabolic complications such as dyslipidaemia, insulin resistance and increased visceral adiposity.“ [Emphasis mine]
What You Need to Know About Fructose versus Glucose Metabolism
Again, while refined fructose creates a lower glycemic response in the short term, compared to other sugars, in the long term, it causes greater metabolic havoc than sugar. This has been repeatedly demonstrated in scientific studies. One of the most recent ones, published in the journal Nature,8 again concluded that while refined fructose and glucose have the same caloric value, they are metabolized differently, and fructose causes more harm of the two. Below is a summary of the main differences between glucose and fructose metabolism, which explains why I keep repeating that fructose is by far the worst type of sugar there is:
With fructose, 100 percent of the metabolic burden rests on your liver. But with glucose, your liver has to break down only 20 percent When you eat 120 calories of glucose, less than one calorie is stored as fat. 120 calories of fructose results in 40 calories being stored as fat. Consuming fructose is essentially consuming fat! Every cell in your body, including your brain, utilizes glucose. Therefore, much of it is "burned up" immediately after you consume it. By contrast, fructose is turned into free fatty acids (FFAs), VLDL (the damaging form of cholesterol), and triglycerides, which get stored as fat The metabolism of fructose by your liver creates a long list of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which drives up blood pressure and causes gout The fatty acids created during fructose metabolism accumulate as fat, both in your liver and skeletal muscle tissues, causing insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Insulin resistance progresses to metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes Glucose suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin and stimulates leptin, which suppresses your appetite. Fructose has no effect on ghrelin and interferes with your brain's communication with leptin, resulting in overeating Fructose is the most lipophilic carbohydrate. In other words, fructose converts to activated glycerol (g-3-p), which is directly used to turn FFAs into triglycerides. The more g-3-p you have, the more fat you store. Glucose does not do this In addition to fructose's dopamine modulating activity, there appears to be afructose-opiate connection. While both glucose and fructose are capable of creating pain killing effects, researchers have found that fructose is more potent than glucose in accomplishing these effects, suggesting it may be more addictive
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