Gorgeous Grub

Part 6 of 8 in the series Immersion

Concentrating on one course of instruction, subject, or project to the exclusion of all others for several days or weeks; intensive — dictionary.com

Blue Moon Burgers

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“Imagining sucking a lemon…can produce a pH-level change in the mouth and a recognizable brain signal,” asserts neuroscientist Adrian Owen in Nature.1 Science Daily describes a study demonstrating “Pictures of Food Create Feelings of Hunger”:

In a study involving healthy male subjects, Axel Steiger and his research group at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry investigated the molecular processes for the control of food consumption. They examined the specific physiological reaction of the test subjects to images showing either delicious food or non-edible objects. The concentrations of different hormones in the blood such as grehlin, leptin and insulin, which play a role in the regulation of food consumption, were measured. The researchers actually observed that the concentration of grehlin in the blood increases specifically in response to visual stimulation with food images.2

“Food porn is making you fat” claims Tim Barribeau:

At the Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting in Houston, Dr. Kathleen Page is presenting research into the way the brain’s reward systems interacts with sugar intake, and images of food. Her research hooked 13 obese, Hispanic women from the ages of 15-25 up to an fMRI, and took brain readings, while showing them pictures. These images were of high-calorie foods, low-calorie foods, and non-food objects.

And whenever people looked at the food, the areas of the brain that are thought to be related to reward and appetite lit up – and this was truer with the high-calorie images than the low-calorie ones. The subjects were also given 50 grams of fructose or glucose, which also boosted their hunger and desire for savory foods (fructose more than glucose) 3

Science Daily continues:

These results show that, in addition to the physiological mechanisms for maintaining the body’s energy status, environmental factors also have a specific influence on food consumption. Thus, the pervasive presence of appetising food in the media could contribute to weight increase in Western populations.4

“Approximately ten thousand new processed food products are introduced every year in the United States,” writes Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation. “Almost all of them require flavor additives. And about nine out of every ten of these new food products fail.”

The Food and Drug Administration does not require flavor companies to disclose the ingredients of their additives, so long as all the chemicals are considered by the agency to be GRAS (Generally Regraded As Safe). This lack of public disclosure enables the companies to maintain the secrecy of their formulas.… The ubiquitous phrase “artificial strawberry flavor” gives little hint of the chemical wizardry and manufacturing skill that can make a highly processed food taste like a strawberry.5


“It’s not surprising that processed foods are designed to foster addictive behavior,” writes Carolanne Wright for NaturalNews:

Sugar, fat, salt and artificial flavors are manipulated in such a way that after one taste, consumers just cannot help themselves and a vicious cycle begins. Not only ingredients, but texture, shape and ‘mouth feel’ are all heavily researched and refined to create a highly pleasurable experience as well.…

Incredibly, the size and shape of chocolate is big business. For three years, Nestle studied the “detection mechanisms in the oral cavity” and “improving melt-in-mouth quality while simultaneously reserving enough space in the mouth for the aroma to enrich the sensorial experience,” according to their press release. In a nutshell, the round shape will bring greater pleasure and higher consumption rates while increasing corporate profits.…

Consider “sensory-specific satiety.” Industry developers label this holy grail the ‘bliss point.’ The idea is where a food does does not completely satisfy, but is pleasurable enough to induce cravings.…

Interestingly, nicotine and narcotic addictions hijack the brain in a similar fashion.6

Backyard Brains - Neuroscience for Everyone!
Neuroscience for Everyone!

International cooking habits compared

WeGotTaste discusses taste fatigue and possible ways to restore the sense of taste:

Taste fatigue is a condition where the sense of taste becomes diminished. It is sometimes called taste bud fatigue or palate fatigue. The taste buds become ‘tired’ and do not trigger consistently from food stimulus. Several different things can cause this.…

  • Over stimulation. If you eat too much of the same thing in a short time, your tongue may be telling you to stop eating it. Your taste buds can become inflamed and tender. Try the taste fatigue experiment to see how your mouth reacts.
  • Over long periods of time, your tastes may change to encourage you to eat something different. This can be your body’s way of helping you receive different vitamins and nourishment.
  • Bad sense of smell. You may notice that foods do not taste as flavorful when you are congested or have a cold. If a person has had their sense of smell damaged, this can affect the way things taste.
  • Hormonal Changes. Many women experience changes to their sense of taste during their monthly cycle or when they are pregnant. Certain flavors may be dulled or altered. Cravings for bizarre foods may occur … pickles with ice cream?!
  • Aging. As part of natural aging, taste buds or papillae may not replenish as quickly or as thoroughly as in years past.
  • If you are tired, your brain might not properly interpret the signals it is receiving from your mouth.
  • Medication. Like any form of medicine, the chemicals and substance can affect the way your body works. Medicines can cause you to become sleepy, numb, or even hinder your sense of taste.7

WeGotTaste recommends a variety of methods to get over taste fatigue including eating different foods and spices, eating better quality food, taking breaks, and consulting with a doctor about possible drug interactions.

Sources

1 David Cyranoski, “Neuroscience: The mind reader,” Nature, 13 June 2012, at http://www.nature.com/news/neuroscience-the-mind-reader-1.10816 (retrieved: 27 June 2012).

2 “Pictures of Food Create Feelings of Hunger,” Science Daily, 19 January 2012, at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120119101713.htm (retrieved: 27 June 2012).

3 Tim Barribeau, “Food porn is making you fat,” io9.com, at http://io9.com/5921573/food-porn-is-making-you-fat (retrieved: 27 June 2012).

4 “Pictures of Food,” Science Daily.

5 Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (New York: HarperCollins, 2002, 2001), pp. 124, 125.

6 Carolanne Wright, “The ultimate craving – How industry designs food to be as addictive as narcotics (and keeps us coming back for more),” NaturalNews.com, 19 March 2013, at http://www.naturalnews.com/039543_processed_food_cravings_addiction.html (retrieved: 20 March 2013).

7 Taste Fatigue, WeGotTaste.com, at http://www.wegottaste.com/taste-fatigue.html (retrieved: 10 December 2013).

See also

Michael Moss, “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food,” The New York Times, 20 February 2013, at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 (retrieved: 20 March 2013).

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