Everyone in our FoodFacts.com community knows where we stand on the issue of junk food – it’s best left alone … for so many different reasons. Bad ingredients, sodium levels, fat levels, added sugars … the list goes on. We’ve seen research saying that junk food consumption can be linked to depression and studies that have linked junk food to the obesity epidemic. But today we found even more information that should be a motivation to help us all stay away from it – especially expectant mothers.
New research from the FOODplus Research Center at the School of Agriculture Food and Wine at The University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia was published in the latest issue of The FASEB Journal. It suggests that pregnant mothers consuming too much junk food can cause changes in the development of the opioid signaling pathway in the brains of their growing babies. As a result, their newborns will be less sensitive to opioids which are released when consuming foods high in fat and sugar. These children are born with a higher tolerance to junk food and need to consume more of it in order to experience the same response as other children. In other words, they are born “junk food junkies.”
The researchers studied the offspring of two different groups of rats. One group of rats had been fed a regular diet while pregnant and nursing. The other group had been fed a variety of human junk foods during their pregnancy and nursing period. After the offspring of both groups were weaned, they were given injections of an opioid receptor blocker each day in order to block opioid signaling, thereby lowering the intake of fat and sugar by inhibiting the release of dopamine. The opioid receptor blocker was less effective at reducing the fat and sugar intake of the rats of the mothers who were fed human junk food than it was in the offspring of the mothers who ate a regular rat food diet.
The study clarifies the idea that junk food can be a real addiction. It employs the identical body chemistry as opium, morphine or heroine. And the junk food addiction can be passed on to a baby developing in its mothers womb … creating a lifetime of battling the problems that the over-consumption of junk food brings with it for yet another generation.
FoodFacts.com hopes that this new study gains worldwide attention. It’s really eye-opening to learn that our cravings for junk food can start before we’re born and to see in such an explicit manner the importance of maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy. We can affect the health and well-being of the next generation … and generations to come by making sure that our own diets meet the nutritional standards our bodies deserve.