Q. I have heard you make comments about some studies on addictive foods and you mentioned pizza. Pizza? Are you kidding me? Our family loves pizza! We eat it at least three times a week or more often but we are certainly not addicted! Please comment.
A. Studies at the University of Michigan (using the Yale Food Addiction Scale), reported pizza as the number one addictive food among research participants. The wheat and cheese combination, commonly found in pizza, is almost a guarantee of eating more and more. Cheese contains casomorphins that bind to opioid receptors in the brain, receptors that also bind with drugs such as morphine. The refined wheat crust triggers a blood-sugar spike in the brain that results in dopamine being released. Dopamine is the “feel better chemical” from which the word “dope” appears to have originated. Refined wheat flour (estimates are that the average American eat about 55 pounds of it every year) is thought to be a main source of calories for many people.
White bread and sugar both trigger similar blood sugar spikes. And it’s not just white flour. Whole wheat is now thought to spike blood sugar more than almost any other food. Most of the carbohydrates in wheat are thought to come in the form of amylopectin A, a substance that is rapidly converted into glucose. According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating just two slices of whole wheat bread spikes your blood sugar more than drinking a can of soda, eating a candy bar, or helping yourself to six teaspoons of table sugar. Rapid rises or spikes in blood sugar with resulting insulin spikes, promotes inflammation.
Alessio Fasano, MD, pediatric gastroenterologist and researcher, who holds the W. Allan Walker Chair of Pediatric Gastroenterology at Massachusetts General Hospital, reportedly is studying the way in which current wheat products produce inflammation in the human body. Inflammation may underlie many if not most chronic diseases and it is undesirable in the brain.
Not addicted? You might want to re-evaluate that. Studies from the National Institute on Drug Addiction have shown that food addiction is a real thing.