All of our suspicions have been confirmed.
Not only have I known quite a few cheese addicts in my lifetime — I have cheese addicts in my family. Whenever my relatives come to visit me, we need to find an artisan cheese shop immediately because their cheese craving is always present.
While they'll travel to Spain, Italy, and France to try cheese, I also know a cheese addict who will just eat old shredded cheddar cheese out of the bag. What is it about cheese that makes people need to have it?
According to a new study from the University of Michigan published in the United States National Library of Medicine, researchers investigated which foods were more addictive than others and found that cheese is a super-addictive food.
What is it that makes cheese so addictive? Well, to start: it has morphine. In 1981, Eli Hazum and his team at Welcome Research Laboratories made a remarkable discovery while analyzing cow's milk — they found small amounts of morphine it them. It turns out that cows make morphine in their bodies the same way that certain plants do (like poppies).
Trace amounts of morphine, along with codeine and other opiates, are produced in cows' livers and can end up in their milk. But that was just the start; the researchers found that cow's mik and/or the milk of any other kind of species, has casomorphins, also known as dairy crack. Casomorphins play with our dopamine receptors and trigger that addictive element.
Casomorphins are protein fragments that come from the digestion of the milk protein, Casein. Casomorphins have an opiod effect. Opiods are the world's oldest known drugs and people react just like with any addictive drug — they enjoy a feeling of euphoria, and develop a dependence on the substance.
So, when you start jonesing for a grilled cheese or are hanging around outside the cheese shop asking strangers to get you a taste of artisanal gouda, it's not you — it's your addiction.