Well at least for rats, but since virtually everything that is tested for humans goes through the rat test first, there is little reason not to accept this news, especially as it is repeating other studies drawing similar conclusions. For people who identify as sugaraholics, this is not news, though. We know the powerful impact sugar has on our brains.
Yours in learning,
Nan aka Sugarbaby
Here is the latest:
Oreos just as addictive as cocaine — in rats
Colton Rhodes (R) watches as his cookie stack falls over as he competes against Brian Gates in the Nabisco Oreo Cookie Stacking competition at Busch Stadium. wy/bg/Bill Greenblatt UPI
NEW LONDON, Conn., Oct. 15 (UPI) — Eating Oreos is just as addictive as cocaine, at least in rats, and like many humans, rats eat the smooth sweet filling first, U.S. researchers say.
Professor Joseph Schroeder and his students Jamie Honohan, Becca Markson, Gabriela Lopez and Katrina Bantis of Connecticut College in New London found rats formed an equally strong association between the pleasurable effects of eating Oreos and a specific environment as they did between cocaine or morphine and a specific environment.
They also found that eating cookies activated more neurons in the brain’s “pleasure center” than exposure to drugs of abuse.
“Our research supports the theory that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” Schroeder said in a statement. “It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”
To test the addictiveness of Oreos, the researchers measured the association between “drug” and environment.
On one side of a maze, they would give hungry rats Oreos and on the other, they would give them a control — in this case, rice cakes.
Then, they would give the rats the option of spending time on either side of the maze and measure how long they would spend on the side where they were typically fed Oreos.
“Just like humans, rats don’t seem to get much pleasure out of eating rice cakes,” Schroeder added.
The researchers compared the results of the Oreo and rice cake test with results from rats that were given an injection of cocaine or morphine on one side of the maze and a shot of saline on the other.
The study showed rats conditioned with Oreos spent as much time on the “drug” side of the maze as the rats conditioned with cocaine or morphine.
The researchers measured for neuronal activity on the brain’s pleasure center — or how many cells were turned on in a specific region of the brain in response to the drugs or Oreos, Schroeder said.
The Oreos activated significantly more neurons than cocaine or morphine, the study said.
“This correlated well with our behavioral results and lends support to the hypothesis that high-fat/ high-sugar foods are addictive,” said Schroeder.
Schroeder is scheduled to present the findings next month at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego.
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Traveling and Avoiding Sugar Pitfalls
Sometimes I could travel and do fine, but other times I would cave and then slide into a binge. Struggling to stay free of binges I examined what places I was most vulnerable, and in those places, what foods tended to be the the ones that started the ball rolling.
Here is an interesting fact about human behavior: we are creatures of habit. We tend to repeat the same behaviors which is why it can be hard to break bad or negatives patterns. But the good thing about this slavish trait is that we can use that knowledge about ourselves to break through the negative.
A couple years ago I read a book on habits by Charles Duhigg, called The Power of Habit, in which he layouts out the powerful nature of habits, why that is good, and why it is a challenge for us to change habits. The short version is there are three basic parts to a habit: 1) a stimulus or cue, 2) to which we respond, 3)to produce the reward or goal. The key to changing a habit is not denial or will power, but taking advantage of the first and third elements, changing only the response. So, if every evening you have an alcoholic drink (response) while watching television (the stimulus), which is relaxing( the reward); you replace the alcoholic drink with another rewarding drink, perhaps a cup of herbal tea you enjoy. Soon the idea for the drink is for the tea, not the booze.
I realized that when I visited a family member’s house where I tended to give in to sweets, the most usual or initial food I was tripped up on was chocolate. Next time I visited I stopped at a market before going to the house and bought some of my favorite cheese and cold cuts. Now I had something to respond to the cue.
I further realized that chocolate was almost always what tripped me up because I can do some chocolate at home, very dark 85% chocolate to which I add some sliced almonds or coconut, and don’t over eat. Away from home the chocolate had a lot of sugar, and that I cannot or will ever be equipped to handle.
Now it will probably take more than one time to make the shift, but if you are determined, you can do it.
Yours in changing unhealthy habits,
Nan aka Sugarbaby
The deep brain desire for sugar does not ever entirely go away, though it can be, as it were, caged by denial of sugar-starch-artificial sweeteners. I am a writer who likes analogy, to have concrete mental images of those more abstract issues. For me, the Clash of the Titans movie, the first one I saw in 1981, had the beast, the Kraken, caged deep in the ocean by Poseidon who controlled it. This was very powerful imagery; as indeed all the Greek mythological gods and creatures were meant to be.
As I struggled with a growing problem of cravings for carbohydrates, those urges/cravings were to me like the Kraken; if I could keep the beast caged, then I would be fine. Admittedly, it took me a while to figure out how to permanently lock the beast deep in my limbic brain. For me that is complete abstinence from modern sugars-starches, and all artificial sweeteners save a small amount of stevia.
Like the mythological Kraken, this is no beast to toy with; either it is caged, or it is running rampant over the landscape of my brain. For me it is extremely destructive on several levels, not the least of which is weight gain. Indeed, many people suffer from mental health issues that seem to miraculously go away once they go on a ketogenic or very low carbohydrate paleo-type food plan.
So, if you are also in the throes of the Kraken, be assured you, too, can cage the beast; but, beware, open the cage a little and it will come roaring to the surface once again, more powerful than ever.
Yours in being in control,
Nan aka Sugarbaby
I read this some months back, kept forgetting to post, but this research gives an indication that behavior is in part driven by dietary consumption. Who knows, maybe that’s why our politicians can’t seem to get any work done–they need to get off carbs.