When excessive amounts of non-nutritional foods as well as foods that are unhealthy are eaten, binge eating develops. When a binge eater stops eating junk foods, withdrawal symptoms set in., Binge-eating can be reduced, however.
Scientists have found that a cellular protein called Sigma-1 causes people to have insatiable junk food cravings. When Sigma-1 is blocked, binge-eating can be reduced.
Binge eating is a disorder that is similar to alcoholism because of its addictive nature. Over 15 million Americans suffer from binge-eating disorder. The experiment was done by giving one group a diet of chocolate and another group a regular diet for approximately two weeks. The chocolate-eaters began to eat significantly more food than the regular dieters ate.
The researchers concluded that the decision-making processes in the brain became dysfunctional when the subjects ate nothing but junk food. The Sigma-1 receptor stopped sending binge-eating signals to the brain when the receptor was blocked, however.