Grabbing a quick bite to eat at a fast-food place seems more accessible than making yourself a balanced and healthy meal at home. Most Americans eat fast food 1-3 times a week. That works out to about 84.8 million adults eating fast food every day!
Here are some of the most addictive foods we consume every day, why they are addictive, and why they make you feel good as soon as they are consumed.
What Is In Fast Food That Makes It Addictive?
Two main ingredients are in fast food that makes it so addictive. MSG and Sugar. These ingredients are not harmful in small doses, but they can lead to health problems when you eat them more than you should.
The sodium salt of glutamic acid, an amino acid found in your body and most foods, is MSG. It enhances the flavor of food, making it a popular food additive.
In recent years, there has been increasing evidence that glutamate is also involved in addiction, and glutamatergic mechanisms may be responsible for plastic changes in the brain that lead to addictive behavior and relapse. MSG contains glutamate, which activates pleasure centers in the brain. When hunger is combined with MSG’s addictive potential, you have a substance that you may start consuming on a daily basis.
Our bodies are able to release dopamine and opioids when we eat sugar. Addictive behavior is linked to added sugar. Addictive behavior is characterized by the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is a crucial part of the reward circuit.
According to a 2008 Princeton study, rats may become dependent on sugar, implying that addiction includes cravings, binge eating, and withdrawal symptoms.
According to French researchers, the causal link between sugar and illegal drugs isn’t just for dramatic headlines. The researchers determined the rewards experienced by the brain after eating sugar are even “more rewarding and attractive” than the effects of cocaine.
Why Does Fast Food Make You Feel Good Initially?
In the brain, there is a system called the reward system. The purpose of this system is to encourage a person to do things that will help them survive. Eating is an example of primal behavior. A person’s brain knows that they’re doing something right when they eat, so it releases feel-good chemicals in the reward system.
One of these chemicals is dopamine, which the brain interprets as pleasure. Behaviors that release dopamine in the reward system are hardwired into the brain. Compared to whole foods, junk food can cause the brain to receive a much more substantial reward.
A piece of steak or an apple might cause a modest release of dopamine, but eating ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s or grabbing a burger from Mcdonald, is so rewarding that it releases a great deal.
What Are The Most Addictive Foods?
As expected, processed foods are most often rated as addictive. Foods like these usually contain a lot of sugar or fat. Below are 18 of the most addictive foods according to Ecowatch:
- French fries
- Non-diet sodas
- Fried chicken
- Plain rolls
- Buttered popcorns
- Breakfast cereal
- Gummy candy
Various biochemical reasons contribute to people losing control over their eating when they engage in addictive-like eating behavior. Foods that have been processed can cause blood sugar imbalances and cravings. Junk food also releases feel-good chemicals in the brain, which can lead to even more cravings.
Cutting down on fast foods and decreasing your sugar intake can lead to a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.