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Cheese Lovers’ Alarm: Study Says Cheese Is As Addictive As Cocaine

Cheese Lovers’ Alarm: Study Says Cheese Is As Addictive As Cocaine

I have bad news and good news.

The bad news is scientists have finally proven that cheese is addictive. My favorite food can now be labeled a drug. The good news is I now have a legitimate excuse for why I consume such copious amounts of cheese.

According to a study by the University of Michigan, not all foods are created equal when it comes to food addiction. A sample of 500 university students completed the Yale Food Addiction Scale which measures the rate of food addiction in people’s lives and also studies the types of foods they crave. The number one most addictive food turned out to be pizza. I mean, who isn’t addicted to that cheesy, tomatoey, carb-filled goodness?

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But it turns out, it’s not simply just taste that causes people to keep their favorite pizza joint on speed dial. Apparently, there is a protein in milk products called ‘casein’. Dr. Neal Barnard explains that casein “breaks apart digestion to release a whole host of opiates called casomorphins.” Casomorphins play with dopamine receptors and trigger the reward reflex in our brains.

Cheese is chocked full of these proteins that trigger our brains into the reward/craving cycle. Some researchers go as far as to call cheese “dairy crack.”

Another finding of the study on food addiction, was the presence of fat in food and its influence. Not shockingly, people seem less inclined to be addicted to lower fat foods. Unprocessed foods like brown rice or fresh fruits and vegetables do not trigger the same eating patterns in people that highly processed foods do. The study concludes that highly processed foods may share characteristics with drugs of abuse (e.g. high doses and rapid rate of absorption) and appear to be associated with “food addiction.”

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Food addiction is associated with highly emotional behavior, but the findings of this study reveal that emotions aren’t the only force prompting this sort of behavior. These highly processed, rich in fat foods, trigger chemical reactions in our brains that rewire our neurotransmitters to desire more and more of that food. Case in point: I have found myself standing in the bleak light of the open refrigerator, mindlessly shoving cheddar cheese into my mouth for no particular reason.

“I must be in a darker place than I realized,” I would think as I came out of my cheese stupor. Now I know my brain is simply chasing that dopamine high that tiny cheese cubes at graduation parties have provided for years and years.

Understanding the chemical processes involved in triggering food addiction can help break the stereotype that people who overeat are simply undisciplined. Claiming that people who struggle with food addiction are lazy, or indulgent, or lack self-control is the same as accusing an alcoholic who struggles not to get drunk in a bar of being undisciplined. Our culture is saturated in cheap highly processed food. Take a look at what the average American school lunch consists of, and the rates of childhood obesity in this country will make more sense.

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In light of these scientific findings, discussions about food addiction, availability of unprocessed food and food production regulations are needed.

I now know why I find myself shoveling pizza into my mouth like there’s no tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean I should just blame it on brain chemistry and continue dialing Papa Johns. Cheese addiction may be rampant, but it’s not a fate we must be resigned to!

Knowledge is the birthplace of power, so let’s start taking our health back. I’m not advocating for the eradication of cheese. I’m not sure that’s a world I want to live in. But understanding what is happening in your brain might help you put that fourth piece of pizza down and eat a salad.

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Featured photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker via flickr.com

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Emily Myrin

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Last Updated on June 13, 2019

5 Fixes For Common Sleep Issues All Couples Deal With

5 Fixes For Common Sleep Issues All Couples Deal With

Sleeping next to your partner can be a satisfying experience and is typically seen as the mark of a stable, healthy home life. However, many more people struggle to share a bed with their partner than typically let on. Sleeping beside someone can decrease your sleep quality which negatively affects your life. Maybe you are light sleepers and you wake each other up throughout the night. Maybe one has a loud snoring habit that’s keeping the other awake. Maybe one is always crawling into bed in the early hours of the morning while the other likes to go to bed at 10 p.m.

You don’t have to feel ashamed of finding it difficult to sleep with your partner and you also don’t have to give up entirely on it. Common problems can be addressed with simple solutions such as an additional pillow. Here are five fixes for common sleep issues that couples deal with.

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1. Use a bigger mattress to sleep through movement

It can be difficult to sleep through your partner’s tossing and turning all night, particularly if they have to get in and out of bed. Waking up multiple times in one night can leave you frustrated and exhausted. The solution may be a switch to a bigger mattress or a mattress that minimizes movement.

Look for a mattress that allows enough space so that your partner can move around without impacting you or consider a mattress made for two sleepers like the Sleep Number bed.[1] This bed allows each person to choose their own firmness level. It also minimizes any disturbances their partner might feel. A foam mattress like the kind featured in advertisements where someone jumps on a bed with an unspilled glass of wine will help minimize the impact of your partner’s movements.[2]

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2. Communicate about scheduling conflicts

If one of you is a night owl and the other an early riser, bedtime can become a source of conflict. It’s hard for a light sleeper to be jostled by their partner coming to bed four hours after them. Talk to your partner about negotiating some compromises. If you’re finding it difficult to agree on a bedtime, negotiate with your partner. Don’t come to bed before or after a certain time, giving the early bird a chance to fully fall asleep before the other comes in. Consider giving the night owl an eye mask to allow them to stay in bed while their partner gets up to start the day.

3. Don’t bring your technology to bed

If one partner likes bringing devices to bed and the other partner doesn’t, there’s very little compromise to be found. Science is pretty unanimous on the fact that screens can cause harm to a healthy sleeper. Both partners should agree on a time to keep technology out of the bedroom or turn screens off. This will prevent both partners from having their sleep interrupted and can help you power down after a long day.

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4. White noise and changing positions can silence snoring

A snoring partner can be one of the most difficult things to sleep through. Snoring tends to be position-specific so many doctors recommend switching positions to stop the snoring. Rather than sleeping on your back doctors recommend turning onto your side. Changing positions can cut down on noise and breathing difficulties for any snorer. Using a white noise fan, or sound machine can also help soften the impact of loud snoring and keep both partners undisturbed.

5. Use two blankets if one’s a blanket hog

If you’ve got a blanket hog in your bed don’t fight it, get another blanket. This solution fixes any issues between two partners and their comforter. There’s no rule that you have to sleep under the same blanket. Separate covers can also cut down on tossing and turning making it a multi-useful adaptation.

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Rather than giving up entirely on sharing a bed with your partner, try one of these techniques to improve your sleeping habits. Sleeping in separate beds can be a normal part of a healthy home life, but compromise can go a long way toward creating harmony in a shared bed.

Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

Reference

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