Cheese is an odd one on this list of foods that can make us feel more hungry, as it’s all down to a quirky fact of evolution. Humans are born to survive on their mothers’ milk, but we’re not here to judge anyone who chooses to or is forced to avoid or give up breast feeding. Instead, we’re here to talk about evolutionary science!
Milk, including human breast milk, contains a protein called casein. When we’re born, we’re genetically programmed to want this protein so much, that we form an opioid response to it. In other words, we’re biologically addicted to it. This ensures that we continue to want it so that we stay nourished and healthy as we grow and develop.
As adults, most of us retain this desire for milk based products, including… cheese! Cheese contains casomorphins which are chemically similar to opiates. These casomorphins trigger the release of dopamine from the pleasure and reward centre of the brain meaning that when we eat cheese, we feel so good that we want more. And more and more! So if you’re a cheese addict, you’ll know why – we’re genetically programmed to eat it, even if we’re not hungry.