“Junk Food Is The Same As Crack Cocaine”
In his article “Unhealthy Food Triggers Addiction Leading to Weight Gain”, Medical Doctor Joel Fuhrman argues that certain foods create psychological and physiological food addiction, which leads to obesity. We need to eat food to survive. Food provides us with the energy we need to function and with the substances we need to stay healthy. Food provides us with macro-nutrients and micronutrients. Macro means BIG and includes protein, carbohydrates, and fats. While micro means, SMALL and included vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. When we consume the correct variety of foods in the correct amounts, we get all the macro and micronutrients we need. I agree with Dr. Fuhrman’s position on the addictive nature of low nutrient foods, because he brilliantly utilizes a scientific study to back up his claim.
First, Dr. Fuhrman states although we must eat food, all food is NOT created equal. He defines unhealthy foods, as foods which when consumed, supply excessive amounts of macro-nutrients with little to no micronutrients. Examples of these foods includes very high fat low nutrient foods such as processed meats and sweets such as sausage, bacon, and cheesecake. These foods have been stripped of all their micro-nutrients during processing, and are very high in salt and sugar. High salt and sugar are dangerous per Dr. Fuhrman, because high salt intake has been linked to high blood pressure which leads to stroke. And high sugar consumption contributes to excessively high glucose levels leading to diabetes.
More critically however, is Dr. Fuhrman believes the foods which cause weight gain, are also the most addictive to the human brain. Psychology today defines addiction as:
“Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or health. Users may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.”
Dr. Fuhrman utilizes a study concerning food addiction conducted by Scientists Paul M. Johnson and Paul J. Kenny of Nature Neuroscience. They performed a study involving low nutrient foods, and concluded these foods induce addiction in the same manner as illegal street drugs. In their opening statement, they make the following claim:
“A defining characteristic of overweight and obese individuals is that they continue to overeat despite the well-known negative health and social consequences. Indeed, many overweight individuals express a desire to limit their food consumption, yet struggle to control their intake and repeatedly consume beyond their energy requirements. Here we investigated the effects of extended access to a palatable high-fat diet on the sensitivity of brain reward systems in rats.”
People usually do not associate food with alcohol, cocaine, and nicotine, but science now suggests which should. And Dr. Fuhrman suggest we MUST, if we wish to ever curb the obesity epidemic. The results of the study Paul M. and Paul J. conducted was alarming. High fat, high palatable cafeteria food – The Standard American Diet – affected the brain just as heroin or cocaine.
Paul M. and Paul J.’s study provide what Dr. Fuhrman writes in his article. Low nutrient, highly palatable food did the same thing to the brain of rats just as street drugs do. Low nutrient food sends a surge of the pleasure hormone – DOPAMINE – to the brain. The problem is, when the brain receives a huge rush of dopamine over and over, it takes MORE of the stimulating substance for the effect to be the same. And obese people who have chronic levels of dopamine circulating in their brains, stay on a viscous cycle of overeating because their dopamine receptors have been deadened. Paul J. and Paul M. further noted:
“These data demonstrate that extended but not restricted access to a palatable high-fat diet induces addiction like reward deficits, overeating and loss of homeostatic energy balance.”
In addition to psychological addiction noted in the Nature Neuroscience study, Dr. Fuhrman argues low nutrient foods cause physiological food addiction. He argues that low nutrient foods because toxic waste build up in the tissues. The body attempts to repair these irritants via detoxification, which can only occur during the catabolic phase once digestion (anabolic phase), has ceased. The problem is, withdrawal pains occurs during this detox phase, causing people to consume more low nutrient food to halt the catabolic phase. The continuous eating to cease detoxification of the cells during the catabolic phase is what Dr. Fuhrman refers to as “toxic hunger”. Dr. Fuhrman argues “true hunger” is felt in the mouth and throat, and allows one to live in the catabolic phase for long periods of time without feeling uncomfortable.
Due to nutritional scientific studies, such as the one conducted by Paul M. and Paul J., Dr. Fuhrman advocates for the complete elimination of all processed foods. He teaches humans should be consuming a diet where 100% of the caloric intake comes from nutrient-rich foods such as green vegetables, beans, onion, mushrooms, berries, and seeds. If animal protein is consumed, it must come from a clean source of animal. No processed animals or foods allowed, because they are too addicting and too dangerous to our health. Dr. Fuhrman calls eating nutrient-dense exclusive foods, the Nutritarian Diet.
In addition to the scientific study conducted by Nature Neuroscience, I also agree with Dr. Fuhrman’s position because of the documented dangers of excessive body-fat. Per the Center of Disease and Control (CDC), people who are obese, compared to those with a normal or healthy weight, are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.
Considering reviewing the nutritional scientific study conducted by Paul M. and Paul J. of Nature Neuroscience, and the dangers of obesity documented by the CDC, I agree with Dr. Joel Fuhrman. He is correct in arguing for a nutrient-dense, plant-rich Nutritarian diet style. America is in a state of emergency. This nation cannot and will not survive as our population become more obese and sicker thus. Health care costs are nearly too expensive to maintain. The cost of treating obesity related diseases is placing a huge burden on our economy. Foods which stimulate the brain causing psychological addiction should be severely restricted. Proper education concerning the effects certain foods have on our bodies and brain, should become a focus in the educational system of all Americans.