While working on my Snack Smart
Solutions content over the weekend, I found myself writing a
sentence about how junk foods are like drugs. It got me thinking
about addictive behaviors, which, in the right environment, is
something we are all capable of having. While many are in disbelief
about Philip Seymour Hoffman's heroin addiction and death, it has
me wondering about other people's vices.
I see so much in social media about being a "diet coke addict,"
"fueled by coffee," (which is a drug BTW), "carb-lover," "must have
cheese," and "Chocoholic" to name just a few. We all have something
we are "addicted" too, yet we don't realize the long-term damage it
essentially does to our health.
Have you ever wondered why you just can't put a bag of chips
down? It contains chemicals that essentially change our brain's
chemistry. Autolyzed Yeast, you may know this as MSG, is a known
and classified neurotoxin. It can excite the neurotransmitters and
change the way we ultimately behave (think hyperactivity, ADHD,
tantrums, etc.). It can leave us with headaches, brain fogginess
and cause forgetfulness. Autolyzed Yeast is found in crackers,
chips, salad dressings such as Ranch, French, Italian or in
flavored snack foods such as Doritos, Fritos and Cheetos. You will
find Autolyzed Yeast in many broths you use to make your soups.
What are some other neurotoxic food chemicals?
Those are just a few of the 3,000 FDA-approved chemicals allowed
into our food supply. Many of them that have not been tested for
long-term human consumption and some were not tested at all. And if
you don't believe me that these toxic chemicals are changing our
brain chemistry, this recent study from the
Lancet stated: "Untested chemicals should not be presumed to be
safe to brain development, and chemicals in existing use and all
new chemicals must therefore be tested for developmental
Let's take a quick look at Diet Coke, Pepsi, Crush, energy
drinks and all the pops on the market. While we all know there is
nothing good or nutritionally beneficial that comes from drinking
these toxic cocktails, it is the combination of how the soda is
made along with the artificial sweeteners that changes the way the
brain processes these drinks. (Remember Coca Cola originally had
cocaine in it). Soda can pull magnesium, zinc and calcium
from your bones, essential trace minerals needed for every organ to
function. Ever hear of
Mountain Dew teeth? Over time, it can wear down the enamel of
your teeth causing discoloration and cavities. It often looks like
teeth of a "crack addict." When it gets to the teeth, you know it
While I enjoy a good cup of coffee each morning, many have found
that if they try to cut it cold turkey, they will get a headache or
the shakes. This is the same thing many drug addicts experience
when they try to stop, too. To stop their body from detoxing they
take another hit and you drink another cup of coffee to take the
edge off. Too much coffee makes our adrenal glands work harder than
they should, causing our bodies excess stress and fatigue. Thus the
cycle begins the next time you drink coffee to "stay awake."
How about sugar? Did you know Americans consume 150 pounds of
refined sugar each year, including 25 pounds of dextrose? Dextrose
is a derivative of corn found in many "healthy" foods, such as
lunch meats, bars, infant formulas and snack nut mixes. Dextrose is
just a fancy name for glucose. The name dextrose is a creative
marketing ploy to make consumers feel better about eating it since
most view glucose in a negative way. We can't get away from sugar
because sugar is in everything we eat and once it hits our taste
buds there is an immediate satisfaction that our brains
When we crave sugar, our brains need serotonin to help balance
the neurotransmitters. However, 90 percent of our serotonin is
produced in our guts. When we give it sugar, it sends feel good
feelings to our brains, which gives off the immediate gratification
both brains and guts need. It is a short-term fix. Our cravings are
an imbalance of neurotransmitters that stems from many things such
as lack of sleep/insomnia, poor diets and high sugar diets.
I saw a lot of judgmental comments about the death of Philip
Seymour Hoffman. "How could he be so selfish leaving behind three
kids?" "How could he not get the help he needed for his kids'
While we all know he tried, but there is something in the brain
that keeps calling back the addictive behavior.
So what about you? What food are you so addicted to that you
just can't stop? Try it for a few days. You will get withdrawal
effects and you will go a little crazy. Can you do it for a week? A
month? Three months? We all have the capabilities to be heroin
addicts, we all just choose our own unhealthy, addictive vices.
Jasmine blogs to inspire you to make positive, healthy changes.
See more of Jasmine's stories here.
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