While people may have cravings for a variety of foods, some foods have truly addictive characteristics. Cheese is one of these foods, and many people have great difficulty giving it up, even if it wreaks havoc on their digestive system.
One of the main reasons that cheese is so addictive is that milk actually contains low levels of opiates, and in cheese, they become concentrated. In 1981, researchers at Wellcome Research Laboratories in North Carolina analyzed samples of cow’s milk, and found that it contained traces of morphine.
They found that morphine, along with other opiates including codeine, are naturally produced in the livers of cows and may be excreted into their milk.
Additionally, any milk that comes from any species contains casein, which is a protein that when digested breaks up into casomorphins, another class of opiates. When cheese is produced, the casein levels are concentrated, and some cheeses have more than others. When milk is made into cheese, the water, lactose sugar and whey proteins are largely removed, leaving a large amount of concentrated casein.
The presence of casomorphins may be one reason that many people experience digestive disturbances when eating cheese, even if they are not lactose intolerant. Opiates are notorious for causing constipation, and casomorphins, although they do not possess the strength of a painkiller, are no exception.
If the cheese you choose is processed, it may well increase its digestive distress quotient, besides adding an array of chemicals that your body does not need and often cannot properly digest.
Another compound in cheese that may increase its addictive nature is phenylethylamine (PEA), which is similar to an amphetamine in composition.
A study published in 2011 in the European Journal of Cancer analyzed the eating habits of 200 bladder cancer patients, as well as a control group of 386 cancer-free volunteers. The researchers concluded that eating more than 53 grams of cheese per day increased one’s risk of bladder cancer by 50 percent.
This study was small in scale, and the researchers assert that more studies are needed to assess the link between daily cheese consumption and bladder cancer, but the results do emphasize that this is one food that should be eaten in moderation, at best.
If you do choose to eat cheese, grass-fed, organic cheese is your best bet, as it does not contain the growth hormones and other chemicals used in processing commercial cheese varieties. However, the naturally addictive properties still exist even in organic cheeses, so be wary.
If you are looking to break away from a cheese habit, know that there are plenty of vegan cheese recipes available, which may not provide the ‘fix,’ but will certainly provide some great flavor to your meals.
-The Alternative Daily