Scientists are discovering that our food preferences are much more than a matter of taste, and that taste itself is more complicated than we thought. Psychology also plays a role. An expert discusses what determines preferences, such as why some people like jalapeno peppers & black coffee, and some don’t.
Dr. Rachel Herz, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University, and author, Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship With Food
Addiction has become undoubtedly entangled in modern American society. Whether it’s gambling, food, sex, technology, alcohol or drugs, the deadly disease hijacks the human brain with severe ramifications. Recent eruptions in the number of opiate addicts and overdoses has shined an even brighter spotlight on this critical public health issue.
There is an inclination to equate addiction to a moral failing, lack of willpower, or simply bad judgment. Dr. Rita Goldstein, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, explains that due to our ‘evolutionary legacy,’ the reward center in the brain is designed to make us feel good when we do things like eat food or have sex. Yet, with prolonged addiction, a chemical imbalance occurs, and as a result, the reward center takes priority over rational thinking or the threat of negative consequence. When addictive behavior is continually reinforced, further imbalance occurs, weakening the part of the brain meant to counterbalance impulsive behavior.
The good news; Dr. Anna Rose Childress, Research Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the Pennsylvania School of Medicine, observes that with abstinence, with or without the use of medications for recovering addicts, the brain can begin rewiring pathways created in the midst of addiction. The road to recovery is not yet paved in the golden promise of a cure, but understanding the biology of addiction is a critical component of treating the disease.
Dr. Rita Goldstein, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, New York
Dr. Anna Rose Childress, Research Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
The Trump Administration has signaled it intends to revamp the Food and Drug Administration to speed the approval of drugs. Some FDA commissioner candidates have proposed radical reform, including an end to the requirement that drugs must be effective to be approved. Experts discuss what reform might look like and what the FDA needs to better succeed.
Gluten free diets have taken the world by storm and some experts say for people who do not have celiac disease, the diets can do much more harm than good. One such expert explains which kinds of people would find the diet appropriate and the pitfalls to avoid.
Synopsis: Super Bowl party snacks are prime territory for contamination via cross contamination and being dropped on the floor. A scientist who has studied both phenomena discusses the truth (or lack of truth) in two old myths.
Host: Nancy Benson. Guest: Dr. Paul Dawson, Professor of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Science, Clemson University
Synopsis: Vitamins are essential to our health, and most of those we need we can get through our diets. Many foods are fortified today. Standards for dietary minimums help prevent deficiency diseases, but little is known about whether it’s possible to consume too many vitamins.
Host: Reed Pence. Guests: Catherine Price, author, Vitamania: Our Obsessive Quest for Nutritional Perfection; Dr. Valerie Tarasuck, Professor of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto; Dr. Mara Vitolins, Professor of Epidemiology and Prevention, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center Links for more information:
Synopsis: Scientists are learning that some people can be physically addicted to certain kinds of foods, especially highly-processed foods, and suffer withdrawl when they can’t have them. Experts explain the brain chemistry of food addiction, how it is virtually identical to the chemistry of drug addiction and alcoholism, and what it means for the nation’s fight against obesity.
Host: Reed Pence. Guests: Dr. Ashley Gearhardt, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan; Dr. Vera Tarman, Medical Director, Renascent Addiction Treatment Center, Toronto, and author, Food Junkies: The Truth About Food Addiction