There have been plenty of times when I’ve lost the battle against a bag of potato chips. After scarfing down a bag of Munchos and feeling dehydrated from all of the salt I’ve just inhaled, the only thing I can think of doing is drinking a gallon of water and finding my nearest treadmill.
I guess there are worst things to be addicted to. Like crack, cocaine, or heroin, but according to a new study by American Journal of Clinical Nutrition foods with a high glycemic index (GI) activate the same area of the brain that’s triggered by gambling and addictive drugs.
Food addiction is real.
The study involved feeding 12 overweight or obese mean milkshakes that were identical—except some were high-GI, while the others were low-GI. After 4 hours lapsed, the people who ate the high-GI shakes were hungrier, had lower blood sugar levels, and had more activity in the area of the brain associated with cravings and addiction.
According to the lead study author, Belinda Lennerz, MD,PhD, a clinical fellow in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston, high-GI foods can cause a spike then a plummet in blood sugar levels. The rise and plummeting taking place then triggers activity in the brain’s pleasure center, causing you to regain your appetite more quickly and give into your cravings more easily.
What separates food addiction from drug or other addictions is that those substances aren’t necessary for life, but food is. But the issues arise when people eat for other reasons besides being hungry. “People actually eat for many other reasons apart from energy needs: for pleasure, out of frustration, to satisfy a craving,” says Lennerz. This is where food addiction comes into play, which could of course lead to other problems such as obesity.