With veganism and healthy eating as the newest fads among our generation, many people are beginning to make the switch to a more plant-based diet. However, the top three foods most people report as being the toughest to give up are milk, cheese, and butter – and it’s no coincidence.
If you find the stringy, greasiness of fresh cheese on pizza enticing at any hour of the day, you’re not alone. And what’s more than that, there may be a scientific get-out-of-jail-free card as to why you suffer from this dairy dependency.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the protein commonly known as casein.
Milk is made up of two types of protein: whey (20 per cent) and casein (80 per cent). When the casein protein breaks down in digestion, the amino acid chain casomorphin is formed, which is a type of opioid. This opioid attaches to the receptors in the brain, producing euphoric effects and triggering an addictive response – it’s been compared to heroin in terms of the strength of addiction and mood disorders it produces.
The process of breaking casein down requires quite a bit of effort, and thus, it isn’t so kind on your digestion system. This is probably why a whopping 70 per cent of the world’s population is reported to be intolerant to dairy. In fact, dairy has also been linked to skin issues such as acne, redness, rashes and irritation. So if you’re looking for a little extra motivation to cut back on your dairy intake, just think of the flawless complexion that could be awaiting you.
A study done by the Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCFR) found that cheese is the most concentrated source of casein – and because of that, the most difficult to refrain from (we’re looking at you, pizza). It takes 10 lbs of milk to make 1 lb of cheese, and in this process, most of the water is removed, leaving behind only the concentrated casein fat. So you’ll definitely be coming back for more.
But wait, why are there high levels of opiates (and even morphine) in milk?
It boils down to simple evolution. The same study by the PCFR reported that the opiates from mother’s milk have a calming effect on the baby, forming a bond between them. “The mother’s milk actually has a drug-like effect on the baby’s brain that ensures that the baby will bond with Mom and continue to nurse and get the nutrients all babies need,” Dr. Neal Barnard says. “Like heroin or codeine, casomorphins slow intestinal movements and have a decided antidiarrheal effect. The opiate effect may be why adults often find that cheese can be constipating, just as opiate painkillers are.”
We’re always down for FroYo, but are we really just trying to get our daily fix? Just like other opiates, dependence can develop with a continuous administration. It’s no wonder that when we try to kick it to the curb we go into unbearable cheese withdrawal.
So if you’re currently singing the dairy blues, you’re not alone. Heck, it was practically out of your control.
Do you suffer from cheese addiction? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below, or tweet us @ViewtheVibe.