By Donna Gates
If we’re addicted to food, the addiction often begins in childhood. After all, what are many of our kids eating for breakfast? Usually, it’s something sweet and quick, like cereal.
Wheat, dairy, and sugar are the most addictive foods on the planet. If you want an idea of just how much cereal we eat: In 2011, three of the most popular cereal brands on the market made nearly $800 million in profit. (1)
According to Yale Rudd Center’s Cereal FACTS 2012:
- Kellogg’s Froot Loops made $162,182,800 in sales.
- Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes made $267,170,500 in sales.
- General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios made $357,013,600 in sales.
Today, we eat over 100 pounds more sugar a year than we did nearly a century ago! Even something as innocent as breakfast cereal could be chock-full of wheat and coated in sugar, served with milk—three of the most addicting foods on the planet!
The problem with cereal is that it’s made from wheat and coated in sugar; once it’s poured into a bowl, it’s covered in milk.
Wheat, dairy, and sugar are the most addictive foods on the planet. All three activate pathways in the brain that signal pleasure and reward. These are the same pathways that drugs like heroin or cocaine follow.
In fact, studies have shown that wheat, dairy, and sugar are just as addictive as any illicit or pharmaceutical drug.
Unfortunately, these foods are literally the mainstay of the Standard American Diet.
At the National Institute of Health, Dr. Christine Zioudrou and her colleagues looked at the proteins found in wheat, specifically gluten. (2)
They found that the wheat protein gluten contains polypeptides, or protein fragments, that are able to bind to morphine receptors in the brain. These are the same receptors that the polypeptides in opiate drugs bind to. Zioudrou called these polypeptides that fit into morphine receptor sites exorphins.
Exorphins mimic the natural opiates that the body makes. These natural opiates, otherwise known as endorphins, are responsible for things like a “runner’s high,” and they activate pleasure and reward centers in the brain. The degree of pleasure and reward depends on how often these receptors sites are full.
This is the fundamental principle of addiction: No matter how harmful a food or substance may be to the body, the sensation of pleasure keeps us coming back for more. And every time we reach for more, it alters the brain’s chemistry.
Dairy from cows also contains exorphins. These exorphins are especially concentrated in cheese.
Like the polypeptides found in wheat gluten, those that are found in dairy are able to bind to morphine receptor sites in the brain. The exorphins that are found in dairy are called casomorphins. (3) Dr. Keith Woodford, author of Devil in the Milk, claims casomorphins are not only addictive—they can also be deadly. (4) In his book, Woodford refers to over 100 papers that have been pulled from peer-reviewed journals in order to explain how and why casomorphins have been linked to:
- Type I diabetes
- Heart disease
- Autoimmune disorders
Since 1822, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture have kept yearly records on sweetener sales, such as cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and maple syrup.
It turns out that:
- In 1822, the average person consumed 6.3 pounds of sugar a year.
- In 1999, the average person consumed 107.7 pounds of sugar a year.
Stephen Guyenet, a neurobiologist at the University of Washington, writes, “In 1822, we ate the amount of added sugar in one 12-ounce can of soda every five days, while today we eat that much sugar every seven hours.”(5)
Guyenet explains that the dramatic rise in sugar consumption comes from “a single factor: the industrialization and commercialization of the American food system.”
In other words, thanks to modern food processing, our sweets are sweeter than anything designed by nature. And the increased availability of sugar is doing us no favors. Sugar is addictive. The more we can get our hands on, the more we will have.
In fact, one 2007 study found that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. (6) The group of researchers conducting the study discovered that sugar surpasses what is called “cocaine reward” in most mammals, including rats and humans.
Although sugar does not contain opiate-like protein fragments, it does stimulate the release of endogenous opiates or endorphins. (7)
When it comes to addiction, sugar may be the most widely consumed of all addictive substances.
Two Steps To Transition Off Narcotic Foods
So what makes cereal and other common foods something that children and adults alike will become addicted to? It’s the endogenous opiates that we get from sugar and the exorphins, or gluteomorphins, that are found in wheat gluten.
Is there such a thing as wheat or sugar withdrawal? You bet there is. Consider any food with wheat gluten, dairy, or sugar an addictive substance.
It’s important to eliminate these foods and change the body’s cravings for them. A good first step is incorporating fermented foods and probiotic beverages into your diet.
A small amount goes a long way, as they begin to restore your inner ecosystem and the good flora that will change how the food you eat is digested and what nutrients are absorbed. The sour taste of these foods will also slowly take away the craving for sweet foods.
The foods that are addictive do not offer the same type of bioavailable nutrition as vitamin and mineral-dense foods. The second step is to incorporate foods like dark green vegetables, ocean vegetables, seeds like quinoa and amaranth, and antioxidant-rich berries that act as fuel to our cells.
Even people with busy lifestyles who don’t have time to cook or kids who need a quick energy boost for their brains in the morning have options that make it easy to get their superfood kick. Vitality SuperGreen and Potent Proteins were designed as highly bioavailable, nutrient and mineral-dense foods to heal the gut, cleanse toxins, and revitalize the body on a cellular level.
- JL Harris, et al. Limited progress in the nutrition quality and marketing of children’s cereals, Cereal FACTS. Yale Rudd Center For Food Policy and Obesity. 2012.
- C Zioudrou, et al. Opioid peptides derived from food proteins. The exorphins. J Biol Chem. 1979 Apr 10; 254 (7): 2446 – 2449.
- Y Jinsmaa, et al. Enzymatic release of neocasomorphin and beta-casomorphinfrom bovine beta-casein. Peptides. 1999; 20: 957 – 962.
- Woodford, Keith. Devil in the Milk: Illness, Health, and the Politics of A1 and A2 Milk. Nelson NZ: Craig Potton Publishing, 2007.
- S Guyenet. By 2606, the US Diet will be 100 Percent Sugar. Whole Health Source. Feb 18 2012. https://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2012/02/by-2606-us-diet-will-be-100-percent.html
- M Lenoir, et al. Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward. PLoS ONE. 2007; 2(8): e698.
- CC Johnson. Sucrose Analgesia During the First Week of Life in Neonates Younger Than 31 Weeks’ Postconceptional Age. Pediatrics. September 2002; 110 (3): 523 – 528.