Fatty foods can cause a pot-type high, a recent study reveals, and once you get started, you want to stay high, so you eat more fat. The study, published in the July 5 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences studied rats and what happens when they were fed different types of foods.
When fat foods hit the taste buds, they trigger the upper digestive system to produce endocannabinoids, which are compounds similar to those found in marijuana. These compounds set off reactions in the nervous system to reduce pain and anxiety. Naturally, the body wants less pain and anxiety, so it signals the brain to keep the fats coming.
Here's how that plays out at the dinner table: one French fry tastes so good you want another one and another and another and before you know it, you've powered your way through the 500 calories in that large order of fries. But your body sure feels good about it.
This mechanism made sense during our early evolutionary development. Fats were relatively rare and when our ancestors found them, it was to their advantage to eat as much as they could. Fats provide a lot of energy for their weight and energy gives a survival advantage.
But today, that mechanism causes more harm than good.
"In modern life, fat is everywhere," Daniele Piomelli, lead investigator on the study said, as reported by US News and World Report. "There are McDonalds and Burger Kings. But before the invention of the refrigerator, fats were hard to find."
The study suggests that if drugs could be designed to interrupt the production of endocannabinoids, then we could stop after one French fry. But for now, we'll have to rely on our brains to steer us away from that first fry.