Processed, sugar-laden foods and drinks…
PepsiCo Chief Executive Officer Indra Nooyi calls them “fun-for-you” choices, if consumed in moderation – and many would agree with her.
But more and more research is suggesting the fleeting feel-good fix such ‘treats’ promise comes at a higher price than most consumers realise.
In fact, as many newspapers and other news sources have reported over the last week, a growing body of scientific evidence now points to the same disturbing conclusion: processed foods and sugary drinks have more in common with mind-altering drugs than with foods.
Nora Volkow, director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, recently commented that the data is now “so overwhelming” it can no longer be dismissed.
Just one of the drug-like attributes of sugar and other junky non-foods that has made the mainstream news this week is that they cause the same dulling of the brain’s reward centres as seen in chronic drug abusers.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released in the brain in response to rewarding experiences such as exercise and sex. Drugs such as cocaine, heroin and amphetamines also stimulate its release, and in super-sized quantities – but, as science is now discovering, so do junk foods.
Dopamine receptors are known to become progressively unresponsive in drug abusers, causing them to progressively increase their intake in pursuit of the same high, and studies suggest the same happens in the brains of those who abuse sugar and other processed ‘foods’.
But the shocking facts that have made news headlines this week represent just the tip of a very large iceberg. I recently wrote an in-depth report on why refined sugar is a mind-altering drug not a food, and I can safely say there is no substance that is so socially acceptable we feed it to our kids, yet so dangerous as this one.