Prof Gary Wenk: Surprising Similarities Between Food and Drugs

For example, we know that men who eat dark chocolate everyday tend to live longer than men who don’t eat dark chocolate, all things being equal. We also know that people who take statins to lower their blood cholesterol live longer than people who don’t. We know that individuals who were smoking marijuana back in the 1960s and 1970s today are not getting Alzheimer’s at the rate they were. We know that people who smoke cigarettes don’t get Parkinson’s disease as often as other people…

So, if one day we decided that all drugs, chemicals, foods should only be considered on how toxic they are, how helpful they might be, what would change is that we would have to outlaw alcohol and make marijuana legal. We would have to outlaw aspirin because it is so toxic to the gut; it has many toxic side effects in the liver. We probably have to outlaw chocolate because it has so many psychoactive ingredients in it…

…you might decide that wearing a nicotine patch is good for you because nicotine as a chemical is very neuroprotective. It rescues cells from things that age them and kills them. We know that, we can prove in test tubes and animals. We can see it in the epidemiology, but no one is going to recommend you go out and smoke some cigarettes unless may be you need the protection that they are going to offer you.

…so that the very first day a mammal nurses, they take mother’s milk, in their gut and in yours and mine as well, milk protein is converted into an opioid-like heroin compound that gets into the brain of a newborn…

If you view heroin and sugar in the same sentence, you will realize that you got to treat them both with care and caution, but when I published a blog on this, the Psychology Today blog, some of the responses were that “That’s outrageous; you can’t compare sugar to heroin” because people do not want to hear that. Heroin is a dangerous thing used by bad people and sugar is something that is delicious and cereal but they are the same from the brain standpoint...

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