What are the types of addictive manufacturing

When it comes to addiction and dependence, one thinks of illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin or hashish. More and more alcohol and tobacco or pill addiction. Much more widespread, however, are addictions that one does not even notice as such because one is constantly satisfied with the addiction.

Many vegetarians have already thought that meat must be addicting. How else can you explain that, despite the known facts, most people cannot do without regular meat consumption?
Regardless of whether the climate is perishing, animals suffer and are killed, even if your own health suffers: the piece of meat on the plate is not left out. The situation is even worse when it comes to the consumption of dairy products, especially cheese. In Switzerland, around 140 kg of dairy products were consumed per person in 2002 (for comparison: only 84 kg of fruit) .1
This article shows that there are actually scientific facts behind this assumption that animal products could be addictive.

Is meat addicting?

In April 2000, a survey was carried out in the USA: "Would you go without meat for a week if you got 1,000 dollars for it?" Around a quarter of those surveyed would rather go without the money than go without meat for just a week.
Scientists found that triglycerides, a group of blood lipids, influence such behavior. They activate corresponding genes in the brain, more precisely: in the hypothalamus. These genes really stimulate cravings, reported Sarah Leibowitz from Rockefeller University (New York) 2, which has been dealing with this topic for a long time. Leibowitz assumes that a single heavy meal is enough to activate the triglycerides and start the vicious circle of the desire for more and the creation of fat reserves. In general, this mechanism comes into effect when the fat content in a person's diet shoots up over 30 percent. Basically, this applies to almost all high-fat foods, but the most fatty foods today are of animal origin: meat and dairy products.

Meat consumption is not only a habit, but also has properties similar to hard drugs: giving a person naloxone3 has the same effect as a drug addict: the desire for meat (and fish) decreases. Fortunately, this physical addiction can be reversed within 3 weeks of a vegetarian diet.

Sugar and milk

Even as a baby you are “addicted” to sweets. Every newborn child is conditioned to do this, as breast milk is also sweet (due to the lactose it contains) and the healthy ripe fruits also taste sweet. The sugar causes opiates to be released in the brain. These, in turn, increase the level of dopamine in the blood, which leads to a positive mood. Incidentally, this effect does not occur if the mother was addicted to drugs during pregnancy.
But in addition to sugar, milk also contains substances that are identical to the drug morphine. However, these are only created in the body as breakdown products of the protein casein, which is why it took so long to discover this. When breastfeeding, this has the consequence that the bond between the infant and the mother is strengthened, as morphine triggers positive feelings.

But nature never thought that adult animals (including humans) would continue to consume the baby formula milk. Since adults are able to survive independently (in contrast to infancy), such drug addiction does not make sense in adulthood.

Most addicted to cheese

The doctors' organization PCRM from the USA had to determine how strong the addiction to cheese is when they prescribed a healthy, low-fat vegan diet to some people for 14 weeks in a study. The health effects were enormous: at the end of the study all participants had a more ideal body weight, those with type 2 diabetes were able to get rid of this diabetes and all blood values ​​were better than before the start of the study. When asked what they missed most after 14 weeks, the answer was clear: cheese. This was hardly because the smell of old feet is so beguiling, but rather that cheese is one of the foods richest in casein and therefore also has the greatest addictive effect.

Drug chocolate

Many people experience that chocolate can be addictive. However, there is also scientific evidence for this.
Chocolate contains (via cocoa): caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine and anandamide. In addition, milk and always sugar are very often contained in chocolate. With such a composition, it would be surprising if it weren't addictive.
To be on the safe side, however, tests were carried out with people who were strongly addicted to chocolate: They were given opiate blockers, which are also used for withdrawal from “hard drugs” such as heroin. These had exactly the same effect as with the other illegal drugs: The test subjects lost their strong desire for chocolate.

healthy chocolate

In recent years, however, there have also been some new studies on the benefits of chocolate consumption, as cocoa also contains health-promoting substances.4 However, all of these studies had one thing in common: all health-promoting properties of cocoa disappeared as soon as the chocolate contained milk. That is why it is recommended today that one should consume dark chocolate (= without milk). Since the market for dark chocolate is getting bigger and bigger, there is already dark chocolate, which also contains milk components. It is therefore necessary here to read the list of ingredients and not just rely on the color.

Renato Pichler

  1. According to the 5th Swiss Nutrition Report 2005, pages 14–19

  2. Liu Z., Chang G.Q., Leibowitz S.F .: Diacylglycerol Kinase zeta in Hypothalamus Interacts with Long Form Leptin Receptor. Relation to dietary fat and body weight regulation. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2001 Feb. 23; 276 (8): 5900-5907.

  3. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist. This means that it counteracts opiates by blocking the receptors in the brain that are required by heroin, for example. This is why the drug is used to determine if a person is addicted to drugs and to treat an overdose.

  4. 2: 0 for the dark chocolate, Bild der Wissenschaft, 12.12.2008