Nutrition

The Science Behind Your Junk Food Cravings

If you cannot seem to put down that packet of chips and bar of chocolate, know that you are not alone. We have all been there and despite knowing all the health risks that come with junk food we still continue indulging in it. A food scientist, Steven Witherly has dedicated 20 years of his life studying why is it that junk food is so addictive. According to his research this is because of two pleasurable experiences; the first is the sensation of eating the food. The taste may it be sweet, sour or salty. What is smells like, the aroma that reaches your nose. Lastly, what it feels like inside your mouth, the texture of it. This is also known as ‘orosensation’. Food companies give this a lot of importance when developing their products. The crispness of a perfect potato chip or the perfect amount of fizzle in a carbonated soda. All this makes your brain react to food in a favorable way. The second experience is the macronutrient makeup of food meaning the fats, proteins or carbohydrates that are in it. Junk food focuses on salt, fat and sugar since that is what most excites the human brain and makes you crave more.

12241-1_nFood manufactures have many factors that make junk food addictive. The first is known as dynamic contrast. This means getting different sensations from the same food. Something that is crispy on the outside but soft in the middle for example éclairs or Oreo cookies. They play with food to make the experience of the first bite so pleasurable that you keep going for more. Second is salivary response. When we salivate while eating, the food flows throughout our mouth and covers every taste bud. For example ice cream, butter or chocolate. It is for this reason that people cannot help themselves but want glazes or sauces with their food. Third are the kinds of food that rapidly vanish or give the melt in your mouth sensation. This makes your brain think that you are not eating as much as you could. The purpose of this sensation is to make you think that you are not full despite the calorie intake you are taking and make you overeat. For example, puffy potato chips and Hershey’s kisses. Forth factor is called the sensory specific response. This is based on the fact that we do not like eating the same thing over and over again. The sensitivity of our taste buds towards it decreases with time. However junk foods are designed in a way that your brain does not get tired of eating them. It is more this reason that it is impossible to put down that bag of cheese Doritos! Junk foods also convince you that you are actually getting energy from eating it, even though you really are not. This particular psychological thinking is known as calorie density. Lastly, we have the memories of past eating experiences. When you eat something tasty, the brain registers and remembers. The next to you or smell that food, the brain triggers memories that make you respond and crave towards it.

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Nutrition

Benefits of Organic food

In the last decade the word organic food has been thrown around enough for all of us to wonder what exactly it is. It refers to any farming products that have no man made fertilizers, livestock feed additives, growth regulators, pesticides and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). All around the world organic food chains have opened up that are catering to a number of people who have become more conscience of what they are eating and how it effects their health. The companies producing organic food make it a point to advertise that they are indeed superior to other food types, which is why they often come with a hefty price tag. Regardless of this, one cannot deny the benefits it has especially over non-organic food.

2009Apple_ChartThe first is Antioxidant capacity. Many researches have shown that they have more of an impact when coming from organic foods. This can be due to the lack of foreign chemicals interacting with the vitamins and minerals present in the organic compounds of your food. This is also said to prevent diseases like cancer, heart diseases, vision problems and cognitive malfunction. It is really simple, eating things as they naturally grow without the addition of any enhancers is the best decision. Secondly, organic food consumers take pride in the fact that there are no pesticides used which are toxic substances released into the farm fields to keep the crops from being attacked by insects.  There is no doubt that they do the job and protect the crop but these powerful compounds are unnatural and not suitable for human consumption. One of these is known as Organo-phosphorus that has been linked to several development problems like Autism and ADHD. Many people are opting for organic food to make sure that their children grow up healthy. Organic farms let the livestock free range and graze on grass and do not opt for any additives in their feed to boost their size. This in turn increases the amount of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is a heart-healthy fatty acid that can improve our cardiovascular protection when the meat or milk of such animals is consumed. The same applies to vegetables. Opting for genetic modification to make them bigger in size or seedless may seem convenient now but it has bad long term effects on human health. Primarily it weakens the immune system that leads to increasing birth morality, sexual dysfunctions, cancers and high sensitivity to allergens.  Moreover, since non-organic farms use antibiotics to feed their livestock, you could develop resistance to these as well. It has to do with the betterment of your health overall. Those who consume organic food truly believe that it tastes better than non-organic food since it is available in the market and is always fresh compared to frozen vegetables. Lastly, organic farming means no use of chemicals and artificial fertilizers. So there is minimal soil, air and water pollution which means environmental safety is maintained as well as a healthier world for the future generations.

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