Scientists Warn Cheese Is As Addictive As This Drug – Imagine to get your cheese fix you had to meet a man down a dark alleyway. He turns up late as usual and you ask him, “What you got?” He takes a cautious look around and responds, “ What are you after? I’ve got Cheddar, Camembert, some of that homegrown Monterey Jack, Gouda, Feta and if you’ve got the dough I can sort you some of that potent Serbian Pule”.
You tell him you’re actually a bit broke and so he opens up his jacket to reveal a packet of Kraft cheese slices. That stuff does nothing for you anymore so if ask him he’s got any of that strong Mexican Cotija he had last week. “Sorry dude”, he says, “There was a big bust at the border. But I’ve got some Nova Scotian Dragon’s Breath Blue coming if you can hang on a few days”.
This might sound utterly ridiculous to you, but tell us how ridiculous it is after you watch this show. We don’t need to tell you that people love cheese. It’s pretty much a universally eaten thing, and where you find cows, buffalos, goats,or sheep, you’ll usually find cheese. In fact, we’ve been eating this stuff since before recorded history, so we don’t really know who came up with the concept of cheese.
We also don’t know who first started making it, but it’s thought that once we had domesticated sheep some 8,000 years ago we soon had cheese. It could have been a lucky accident, because back in those days milk and other liquids were transported in the leak-proof organs of animals. It’s thought that the milk on the stomach lining when warmed would have curdled it.
Voila, accidental cheese. And that happy accident led to cheese eating in ancient Egypt, ancient China, ancient Rome,and other places. There is plenty of proof of cheese-eating all around the world from ancient times. Roman texts show us that cheese-making was seen as an art form, and those Romans were excellent at the art.
Cheese-making spread through northern Europe and then we saw different kinds of cheese,such as aged or blue cheeses. So, how much do we eat? Well, first of all we eat more cheese from cow’s milk than any other animal. Next is goat cheese, sheep cheese and buffalo cheese. Cheese data tells us that in 2018 US$32.1 billion worth of cheese was exported around the world.
You can find reports stating that the cocaine market is much bigger than that, but according to the book Narconomics the market value of cocaine is sometimes exaggerated because there is an astronomical difference between how much it costs to make and how much it is eventually sold for. 500 kilos in Peru taken by police is not worth the amount it’s worth on the streets of the USA.
It’s also not as if cocaine traffickers and dealers are handing in monthly reports to the government. It’s estimated that around 4 percent of the population have tried cocaine at least once in their lifetime, but estimates vary and it’s really hard to get to the truth. What we can say is it’s not as popular as cheese by any stretch of the imagination.
Cheese consumption is also hard to pin down, with some sources saying the Danish eat the most cheese per capita and others say it’s the Greeks. All sources tell us that the Europeans eat the most cheese, but the Americans are not too far behind in per capita terms. EU countries produce the most cheese altogether, with Germany out front and Italy behind, but the USA produces more cheese than any other nation.
Reports state in 2018 the USA produced a whopping 5. 88 million metric tons of cheese and production has been steadily going up over the years. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American in 2017 ate 15 pounds of American cheese and 22 pounds of imported cheese. That’s quite a lot of cheese.
That department also says the most eaten variety in the U.S. is Mozzarella, followed by cheddar. Why are we giving you all these numbers? Well, just to show you that people in general consume vast amounts of cheese. You could ask a cheese fan why he or she consumes so much of this stuff and no doubt they’ll tell you the reason is because it’s simply delicious. They like it.
They like how it makes them feel, but they wouldn’t tell you they were addicted to it. You might ask a regular cocaine consumer why they spend every evening hovering up white lines from their coffee table and they would tell you that they like it, it makes them feel good. You would then assume they are likely addicted. You might also wonder, though, if cheese could be addictive like cocaine?
It might seem silly to even ask, but if you look at news reports from 2015 you’ll find many media organizations citing a scientific report that claimed that people were hooked on cheese, that parmesan dust was just as addictive as the fine white powder originating from a coca leaf. Researchers from the University of Michigan wrote that cheese is what you might call very moreish.
They used something called the Yale Food Addiction Scale to measure how people crave cheese,and they said people crave it like they might crave a drug. The reason for this they said was because like other dairy products it contains the chemical casein, and this can trigger the brain’s opioid receptors and give a persona feeling of well-being.
The cheese eater takes a bite and soon feels slightly euphoric. No doubt he’ll go back for more at some point. People in their study were also asked to pick the foods they thought were the most addictive,and it turned out that food containing cheese was craved a lot. You might think, well, if that’s down to the casein chemical, then why don’t I crave milk?
The researchers wrote that in cheese it’s far more concentrated, so you get a much bigger hit. You get it in milk, but less so. One of the authors of that study wrote, “This is a first step towards identifying specific foods, and properties of foods, which can trigger this addictive response. ”She also said by accepting some foods have addictive properties we can better tackle obesity, and cheese in high doses packs a lot of calories.
Ok, so does this mean after that report we had CA groups: Cheese-aholics Anonymous? “Hi, my name’s Chris and I’m a cheese addict. This is my seventh day of sobriety”. Well, it’s nothing new that some things we consider innocuous or fairly innocuous provide us with a dopamine hit. That’s just how the brain works; its reward system gives us a feeling of pleasure for certain activities.
We’ve all heard how Facebook can be addictive, or singing a religious hymn can make us feel great. Well, it’s really about damage control. With Facebook, research has shown how people can’t seem to get off the platform and this has caused some amount of distress or depression for some hardcore users.
Over-consumption of cheese might also help you to pack on the pounds, but it’s hardly comparable to the mess, pain, and problems, a bad drug addiction will cause. Going out for a pizza should not be even remotely related to scoring a gram of China White and putting that stuff into your veins.
Cheese addiction has been called scaremongering, and as we said, while it might give someone a light buzz because of something called the mesolimbic reward pathway, so do many things we do all day, every day. We couldn’t live without these rewards. We need dopamine, our artful “pleasure chemical”. Food stimuli is nowhere near as powerful as drug stimuli.
Addictive drugs are craved for more by users than a cheese slice. We usually don’t hold up a convenience store so we can get that one final hit of French Brie. We don’t get restless legs and come out in sweats, throw up and experience depression between 24 and 48 hours after our last plate of Swiss Emmental.
Still, cheese seems to stimulate our dopamine receptors more than say a carrot, or a stick of celery. Other nutrition scientists came out after the ‘cheese-is-addictive-as-cocaine’ media fest and said a cheese addiction seems impossible. Granted, they said, cheese does contain opiate-like substances, but that doesn’t mean a person will get a full blown addiction.
Time magazine tackled the issue and concluded that no, cheese is not as addictive as cocaine. The writer said indeed when cheese is eaten casein releases these substances called casomorphins. The researchers of the study said these have an effect on the brain like morphine, but this might not actually be true.
It might not be the addictive element of cheese at all, and it might just be the fatty content of the stuff. They also point out that other very sweet and salty foods scored high on that craving scale, such as chocolate and chips. We should also say that the researchers themselves would later say that the media misstated the mand oversimplified their work.
They weren’t really saying that cheese is as addictive as cocaine, but hey, a headline like that pulls in readers. We are in some ways addicted to food, otherwise we would die. We need some amount of stimulation from eating so we eat and stay alive. Just as a neuro scientist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda said, drugs exploit the reward systems we have.
Drugs take over them, and as some of you will know, some people hooked on drugs sometimes forgo regular eating or perhaps love-making and instead get their kicks from the substance. This isn’t the same as liking cheese. Lots of things that give us pleasure are not bad for us, and cheese is hardly enemy number one.
Another neuroscientist said this about the addictiveness of cheese compared to cocaine, “Addictive drugs do things that food doesn’t do that make them more addictive. To put those foods on par with something like cocaine is pretty inflammatory. ”So, while you might have heard the term “Dairy Crack” or “This is your brain on cheese”, and even though you could have a very mild fondness for eating cheese, you really don’t need to worry about eating cheese.
If you are very overweight and think you eat a lot of it, well, maybe it’s time to cutback a little. You won’t have to attend Cheese-aholics Anonymous, though, and at no point in the future will you be having to buy your British Stilton on the Dark Web or from that guy that hangs around on the corner of the block.
Other researchers tell us that this fondness for cheese might just be linked to our fondness of drinking milk when we are babies, and the same goes for young animals. That mother’s milk is our lifeline, and cheese is just a stronger version of that milk. The cheese business might think about us as addicts, though.
Listen to this. Forbes came out with an article in 2017 and it talked about a presentation once given by Dairy Management Inc. The discussion was how to get people eating more cheese. Forbes writes that the presenter said what was needed was people to be triggered into eating more cheese. He also said there were two kinds of cheese eaters, “enhancers” and “cravers”.
The former are people who just sprinkle a bit of cheese here and there and they weren’t worth targeting. The latter were people that eat cheese in bulk, the need-cheese-everyday people, not the weekend dabblers. They said the way to target the heavy-hitters was to put cheese in all sorts of things,and that’s why you see the word “cheesy” these days before a lot of food stuffs.
There is nothing too nefarious about this, though, business merely exploits the things we crave. These people could hardly be labeled Cheese-pushers. They do need to get rid of more of it, though, because not long ago the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that at least in the USA there was a 1.4 billion-pound cheese surplus.
NPR wrote that there was enough stashed cheese in the U.S. to wrap about the Capitol building. The reason given was people were drinking less milk, while more Americans were turning their backs on the processed varieties that has driven the U.S. market in the past and have turned towards the European varieties, the hard stuff and the soft stuff. More Americans apparently now are looking for a more exotic cheese hit.
Do you think you are addicted to cheese? Is it addictive? Tell us in the comments.