You're So Addicted To Cheese Because It Has The Same Effects As Opium

by Chris Riotta

I don't know if there's anyone I've met who is more of a cheese addict than my dad. I mean, the guy lived in Argentina until the age of 16 and grew up in an Italian household.

His childhood essentially consisted of playing soccer in the streets, drinking traditional mate tea and eating tons and tons of cheese.

José Riotta (along with a whole bunch of other cheeseheads) must have brought his addiction for the magical delicacy to the states in the 1970s.

Back then, the average American consumed just about 8 pounds of cheesy goodness each year, Grist reports.

Now, people across the country are eating a whopping 35 pounds per year, and those numbers continue to rise.

But the reason we itch for cheese may be something deeper than the delicious taste packed in every single bite.

Cheese may actually be just as dangerously addictive as hard drugs such as opium or heroin.

If you're anything at all like me, cheese is just like Frank's RedHot sauce -- I put that sh*t on everything.

There's extra cheese in my omelets, cheese on top of my salads, and don't even get me started on cheese-filled pizza crusts: They are quite possibly the greatest invention since cheese itself.

Cheddar, pepper jack, Swiss, even the traditional lunchbox standard, American cheese -- I seriously don't care. Just give it to me. Give me all the cheese.

Researchers at the University of Michigan found that cheese is way more addictive when compared to other foods, in part due to its processing.

In a study designed to test the addictive qualities of certain grub, scientists found that unprocessed foods (like brown rice or seafood) did not cause the same addictive behaviors in participants as processed ones, like the cheese we love so much, did.

Erica Schulte, one of the study's authors, tells Mic,

Fat seemed to be equally predictive of problematic eating for everyone, regardless of whether they experience symptoms of food addiction.

Of course, cheese just happens to be very processed with exorbitantly high levels of fat.

But what's more unfortunate is that the combination of cheese and crunchy crust has added negative health factors than if you consumed each alone.

Casein, a chemical found in carbohydrates capable of altering the thought process related to rewards in our brains, releases extra dopamine every time we bite into a pizza pie.

The same feel-good hormones are released when we mess around with recreational drugs.

So you're saying my third pizza lunch this week isn't just because of wonderful magic deliciousness? I want my money back.

Part of the reason we may have been spiking our cheese intake is because there's so much science out there that says cheese is actually good for you.

In fact, Cosmopolitan reports on not one, but three studies that show eating cheese may actually have several benefits for our health.

The research shows that people who didn't eat any dairy at all had some of the same negative health symptoms as those of us who indulge a bit too much, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar and a greater risk of type 2 diabetes.

One Swedish study even shows that participants who ate an average of eight full servings of full-fat dairy had a 23 percent lower risk of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than study participants who did not consume any dairy at all.

So what is it? Is cheese good for our souls and our health, or is it all a lie that we're buying way too much into?

The most important takeaway from this entire cheese debate is the key to living a healthy life: everything in moderation. Even cheese, unfortunately.

While one study may show that consuming an unusual amount of dairy is going to protect you from diabetes, it probably won't. But that isn't to say avoiding all cheese completely is going to make you any happier or healthier in life.

A healthy lifestyle consists of light portions, exercise and de-stressing techniques like stretching and yoga, or activities that get your heart pumping for something other than the sight of your food coming out of a restaurant's kitchen -- loaded with extra cheese, of course.

Citations: Grist, Mic, Cosmopolitan