Why Are We Addicted to Dairy?
I remember when I was a vegan back in the 2000's the hardest things to give up were milk and dairy products. Meat wasn't too hard to cut out of my diet but that damn dairy - especially cheese!
I missed it a lot.
The cravings altogether are not surprising, as I realised after further reading, that dairy does in fact contain an addictive compound.
As stated in an Forbes article that quotes Dr. Neal Barnard
"It turns out there’s a reason behind our cravings. Cheese contains casein. It also contains casein fragments called casomorphins, a casein-derived morphine-like compound. Basically, dairy protein has opiate molecules built in. When consumed, these fragments attach to the same brain receptors that heroin and other narcotics attach to.
'These opiates attach to the same brain receptors that heroin and morphine attach to. They are not strong enough to get you arrested, but they are just strong enough to keep you coming back for more, even while your thighs are expanding before your very eyes.' - Dr. Neal Barnard, author of The Cheese Trap
Some researchers believe this occurs as a way to ensure babies (humans, cows, etc.) continue to nurse during infancy, which helps the survival of the species. That helps explain why we look so happy when nursing and also why it feels so good to eat cheese. For perspective, a cup of milk contains 7.7 grams of protein, 80% of which is casein. When converted to cheddar, for example, the protein content multiplies 7-fold, to 56 grams. It’s the most concentrated form of casein in any food in the grocery store. Basically, if milk is cocaine, then cheese is crack.
Our brain's ‘reward center’ releases dopamine when we eat salty foods like cheese in order to encourage us to eat more of it (many addictive drugs increase dopamine activity). Dopamine makes our bodies become attracted to whatever produced it, including cheese. Which is why so many people crave it, talk about it, and why even animal-loving vegetarians have a hard time giving it up.
No wonder its hard to go off dairy. We are programmed to love it.
In our next blog we will talk about if you are to have dairy, what are the best choices.
Did you want a sneak peek?
TRY THE ALTERNATIVES
SHOP A2 casein products
SHOP goat milk