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WHAT CHEESE AND HEROIN HAVE IN COMMON

BY: ALVA POLETTI


I haven’t tried heroin, but I'm definitely a fan of cheese. Like millions of others, I really enjoy the occasional parmesan on my pasta and mozzarella on my pizza. However, recently I stumbled upon a podcast (typical me, right?) discussing new research linking cheese to food addiction. These studies shed light on the addictive nature of one of cheese's primary components: casein. Some scientists even liken casein to the heroin of food. Here's why:


Source: @alvapoletti


Casein, a protein found in milk and dairy products, including cheese, breaks down in the digestive system, releasing casomorphins – peptides with opioid-like properties. These casomorphins can bind to opioid receptors in the brain, leading to feelings of pleasure and reward. Studies indicate that casomorphins can cross the blood-brain barrier and interact with the brain's opioid receptors, resulting in a cascade of neurological effects. Hence, cheese consumption can induce feelings of euphoria and satisfaction, akin to narcotics such as heroin or morphine.


The activation of opioid receptors by casomorphins can contribute to addictive behavior associated with cheese consumption. You may even experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms when deprived of cheese, leading to a cycle of dependence and overconsumption.


Dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, also plays a crucial role in the addictive nature of cheese. Eating a grilled cheese sandwich, for example, can trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, reinforcing the behavior and encouraging repeated consumption.


While the effects of indulging in cheese may not be as potent or dangerous as narcotics (obviously, haha), the underlying neurological mechanisms share similarities. Both cheese and narcotics can hijack the brain's reward system, leading to addictive behavior and dependence. Pretty crazy, right?


Now, it’s important to remember that new discoveries are constantly being made, and scientific trends evolve. Although there are studies supporting this theory, it’s always just a theory, not an absolute fact. I won’t be swearing off cheese, but after learning this, I'll be more mindful of my consumption. Plus, it’s a fascinating tidbit to share next time I'm at a dinner with a cheese platter, haha!


Over n' out, peeps!

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