According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, salty and fatty foods produce chemicals in your brain similar to those in marijuana. These chemicals, endocannabinoids, help create the vicious cycle that forces you to eat the rest of your chili cheese fries even though you were full after 3 bites.
Human skin also produces endocannabinoids, likely used in the same way they are used on pot plants – to shield the skin from harsh elements.
If you’re wondering if these chemicals are linked to the munchies people get when smoking marijuana, they are. Since smoking a joint releases these chemicals into your body, it contributes to your craving for junk food.
Researchers had lab rats consume one health shake, one sugar solution, one protein liquid, and a fatty beverage made from corn oil. Sugar and protein had no effect on the release of these chemicals, but the fatty foods did. Fat on the tongue sends signals to the brain that produce endocannabinoids, which end up telling you to keep on eating. Before you know it your pants are splitting and you’re elbow-deep in a bag of Chili Cheese Fritos.
If the pharmaceutical industry creates a drug to prevent the release of these chemicals, no doubt it will be a hit. Do you think a drug that signals the gut to say “no” to fatty, salty snacks would be a big break in the fight against obesity, or taking the easy way out?
Now I know why I always leave Buffalo Wild Wings feeling like I’m going to either burst or throw up.
Image CC licensed by Michele Hubacek: Chili Cheese Fries