Cheese Really Is Addictive! Casein Releases These Opiates During Digestion

Cheese lovers finally have validity behind their claims that they are addicted to the tasty dairy product. Research out of the esteemed University of Michigan has demonstrated that when people say, “Cheese is like crack to me,” they aren’t that far off. The research can be found in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, where researchers identified foods that these researchers say are actually addictive. Pizza, a cheese lover’s staple food, was not surprisingly at the top of the list of addictive foods. The researchers believe that the apparent addiction so many people have to pizza has almost everything to do with cheese. An added addictive quality is that the food is processed. As it turns out, processed foods are also associated with addiction. If foods also contained processed fats, like pizza cheese, it becomes even more addictive to us, they claim.

Cheese is likely addictive, researchers claim, because it contains casein, a protein found in dairy products. Casein itself isn’t a drug, but when humans digest the casein in the dairy products like cheese, opiates are reportedly released. These are genuine opiates! When we eat cheese and we digest the casein, the opiates called casomorphins are released.

“[Casomorphins] really play with the dopamine receptors and trigger that addictive element,” registered dietitian Cameron Wells told Mic for an article about this cheese addiction so many people face.

The European Food Safety Authority actually carried out a detailed review of studies that casomorphins and related peptides found from the consumption of dairy products like cheese after studies suggested that, in particular ?-casomorphin-7 (BCM7), could contribute to increased risk of autism, cardiovascular diseases and type I diabetes, but the review found that while links are there, they weren’t able to establish that cheese is actually a cause of these diseases and conditions. Still, the University of Michigan researchers were able to vilify casein in another way. The findings were published by PLOS One, an esteemed scientific journal. They determined that some foods, especially processed foods high in fat and casein like cheese, shared characteristics with drug abuse and that the subsequent “food addiction” appears to be valid.

Every single year, each American consumes over 35 pounds of cheese statistically. This cheese addiction is why it’s so hard to eat just one slice of pizza. Unprocessed foods like salmon or brown rice, regardless of how tasty they might be, are easier to eat at proper portions. Pizza is especially guilty, because it also has sugar and carbs that stimulate our brains’ dopamine receptors. Between that and the opiates created by digesting casein, pizza is basically a drug to us.

So, why is cheese so much better than milk when it comes to satisfying our apparent addictive cravings? Reportedly, cheese is so concentrated that producing just one pound of cheese requires about 10 pounds of milk. Casein is the substance that coagulates the solid milk fats. Milk has a minuscule amount of casein compared to cheese. So, cheese ends up releasing exponentially more opiates during digestion than milk does.

The University of Illinois Extension Program claims that caseins makes up 80 percent of the proteins in cow milk. Cheese contains such concentrated amounts, food scientists sometimes call it “dairy crack.” This is why no matter how tasty some vegan cheeses may be, they will never satisfy a cheese lover’s cravings. It’s not the flavor or the texture that drives us to eat more and more cheese, it’s the opiates we get from eating cheese.

That’s not to say that cheese is actually bad for us, it’s just that once we’re hooked on cheese, giving up is not as easy as it might seem: Cheese really is addictive.

[Image via Pixabay]

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