Food in the end, in our tradition, is something holy. It’s not about nutrients and calories. It’s about sharing. It’s about honesty. It’s about identity. ~ Louise Fresco
You may already know that junk food is bad for your health, but you may not realize how bad it can be. A new study from the School of Medical Sciences at Australia’s University of New South Wales points to profound brain changes that junk food causes, making a junk food habit “more deadly than war, famine, and genocide”.
Say what? Yep, the food war is real, and though the UNSW study was conducted on rats, the brain changes observed matter to us humans. As mammals we share similar brain functioning in the orbitofrontal cortex, the part of our gray matter responsible for sensing and evaluating the pleasurable aspects of food.
Makers of junk food know it is highly addictive, but the UNSW study proves unequivocally that junk food alters behavior by causing near-permanent changes in the brain’s reward circuiting, an alteration that can trigger obesity.
The study abstract concluded:
“We observed that rats fed a cafeteria diet for 2 weeks showed impaired sensory-specific satiety following consumption of a high calorie solution. The deficit in expression of sensory-specific satiety was also present 1 week following the withdrawal of cafeteria foods. Thus, exposure to obesogenic diets may impact upon neurocircuitry involved in motivated control of behavior.”
While mammals developed a natural trigger over our evolutionary history which prevents us from over-eating, a phenomenon termed “sensory-specific satiety,” the consumption of junk food overrides this natural ‘kill’ switch that allows us to regulate the calories we consume.
Junk food consumption also causes mitochondrial dysfunction and tissue inflammation, which leads to a host of other diseases. Perhaps most troubling, though, is that these fake foods also mess with our internal motivation and reward system – which causes us to seek more nutrition-less junk. It’s like programming a time bomb and just waiting for it to blow. …
Need I point out that fast food is especially consumed by people who don’t have the time to prepare real food at home (i.e. the working poor)? “Organic food” used to be called just “food”. Now through the miracle of marketing and the steady erosion of the middle class, it’s considered a luxury.
As Republicans prepare to cut billions of dollars from food stamps, a Bay Area activist has stirred a hornet’s nest on the left by questioning how much the program ends up benefiting corporations that peddle soda, candy and other junk food to low-income people.
Michele Simon, a public health expert in Oakland who has battled food marketing to children, issued a report last month, “Food Stamps: Follow the Money,” that called the program the “largest, most overlooked corporate subsidy in the farm bill.”
Simon opposes cuts to food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP and renamed CalFresh in California. But she said the best defense is to make sure the program is doing its best to help the poor, rather than Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mars and General Mills.
“Nutrition shouldn’t just mean not going hungry,” Simon said. “It should mean actually feeding people nutritious food.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not collect data on what people buy with food stamps. Tobacco, alcohol, pet food and vitamins are banned, but candy, soda and ice cream are allowed….