Most of us have at least one product that has the effect of a stimulant that we have indulged on and eventually becomes an addiction. These include exercise drinks (they come in cans and look like cola), fizzy aerated drinks, tobacco, betel nut, betel leaf, strong coffee, strong tea, ma huang (an ephedrine-like compound consumed in china), and alcohol.
Before we dig deeper on why we should avoid these products, let’s understand first why we consume them in the first place.
Our Obsession Over These Stimulants has Existed for Ages
It’s a common knowledge that these products, when excessively consumed, can severely harm our bodies. Yet, we still find them hard to resist. Our obsession over these stimulants has existed for ages: humans (and many animals) have always indulged in food that gives emotional high. In clinical terms, this means rapid heartbeat, a little sweating, dilation or constriction of the pupils of the eye, a warm flush on the face, and a sense of greater sensitivity, concentration and perception.
These sensations of ‘high’ die down within a few hours and leaves us feeling listless and low. Then, it leads us craving that food again, longing to experience the high one more time. And without knowing it, we’re stuck in this vicious cycle.
The Physiology of Addiction
The physiology of addictions is as follows:
When you eat an addictive food, it stimulates the hormone like substances found at the end of your nerves. Then, it triggers an avalanche of similar stimulatory substances which results to the “high” experience. Eventually, the substances near the nerves are depleted. By this time, you are now in the low phase which leads you to crave that food again. This yo-yo phase of nerve stimulation and depletion leads to a pattern of addiction.
Our Addiction And Its Effects
Despite the revolution in health consciousness, our indulgence into these addictive foods never dies out. Maybe knowing their negative effects will help change our minds.
Below are some side effects of certain addictive foods:
Alcohol Addiction: Erosion of stomach and intestinal lining, liver damage, nutritional deficiency.
Tobacco: Erosion of gum and tongue can lead to cancer of the buccal mucosa.
Betel nut: Erosion of the lining of the mouth, Leads to the discoloration of teeth, and cancer of the mouth and upper tract. It also leads to heart problems among people who already have a weak heart.
Ma huang: It contains ephedrine and leads to heart problems.
Aerated drinks: High doses of caffeine.
Caffeine and Xanthine: Found in tea, coffee. These become harmful only in very high doses; don’t consume more than five cups a day.
Mixed drug reactions: People who consume medications for the heart, hypertension and asthma must be very careful about the interactions of the drugs with stimulant foods, as mixing the two can be fatal.
After years of experience, all doctors know how that it is a struggle to break this food addiction. So, like them, I can only advise a good compromise. If you can’t break the addiction, then at least you should practice moderation.