If you're the type of person who can't stop eating cheese once you start, it may not be your fault. You may be addicted.
That's the conclusion of a doctor and author who says that cheese has "morphine-like compounds" called casomorphins that attach to the brain's opiate receptors, making the food even harder to resist than its high levels of fat and salt already do on their own, according to a report in Thrillist, a website on food, drink and travel.
"In cheese, we get massive concentrations of fat and salt, which our highly evolved brains continue to love. Combine this with the opioid-like casomorphins, and cheese suddenly goes from 'very delicious' to 'obscenely tempting,'" the report said.
Cheese is "dairy crack"Leading the charge against cheese is Dr. Neal Barnard, founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. He's the kind of guy who calls cheese“dairy crack.” If that sounds a tad dramatic, consider what happens in your body when you digest cheese, a process Dr. Barnard explains in his book, 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart, and summarized in an email.
It turns out that cheese really is kinda sorta like dairy crack, since your brain reads a component of cheese as an addictive substance. The culprit is casein, a protein in dairy that gets super concentrated during the cheese making process. When you eat a hunk of Roquefort or a slice of Brie, your body has to break down the casein contained therein.
Your brain is built for cheeseIt turns out that the human brain evolved to really, really, really enjoy fat, especially when combined with salt. Fat is a calorie-dense substance, which makes it attractive to a hunter-gatherer type always in need of efficient energy sources. In cheese, we get massive concentrations of fat and salt, which our highly evolved brains continue to love. Combine this with the opioid-like casomorphins, and cheese suddenly goes from “very delicious” to “obscenely tempting.”
Of course, part of what makes cheese so attractive -- its fat and salt -- is also what sets it apart from real drugs. You don't get any nutrients when you're shooting up or snorting lines. Quite the opposite: Many drugs render nutrition impossible or irrelevant.
It’s not your fault if you struggle with excess cheese consumption.