Chocolate and the pseudo-morphine effects on the Human Brain
January 18, 2013
Endorphins are chemicals that are endogenously occurring and are functioning as good and efficient neurotransmitters. These are produced mainly by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus during the experience of pain, excitement, exercise, spicy foods and yes, love.
Another derivative of endorphin, known as enkephalin, is a peptide that is able to do the activation of many cerebral opioid receptors that are responsible for the intense and insatiable drive for eating that can be compared to the same mechanism of narcotics that are bound to kill pain.
Eating in bulk, and even consistent small frequent feedings, are revolved around the idea of being overly compulsive and doing some kind of over-consumption that triggers the brain’s reward and satiety center.
But experts are not fully able to understand yet the whole programming and system of these neurotransmitters that are able to motivate us to binge. Binge eating is somewhat a eating disorder that may stem from a distorted view of an individual's body shape and weight. They have very extreme behaviors in the way they eat and consume food.
Researchers have resorted to testing rats with a synthetic drug that is geared to activate their neostriatum (responsible for their movement, habits and response to stimuli). This appears to activate the region of the brain which is also responsible for the rats’ eating behaviors.
When given chocolate, the rats’ consumption increased by a whopping 250% as they consumed an average of 10 M&M’s within 20 minutes. Their insatiable eating binge triggered a surge in their enkephalin – a naturally occurring peptide resembling opium that is responsible for the elevation of binging tendencies.
The rats also exhibited a diminishing case of marginal utility, meaning they less and less liked the chocolate, the more and more of it they ended up consuming. The way the rats’ brains lighted up is compared to the way human binge eaters and drug addicts react when they get their reward of choice.
If you're heavy into the science, you can learn more here and follow the links to the study itself.