High fat, high sugar diet changes the brain, leads to stress


If losing weight is one of your New Year's resolutions, the odds may be against you if you’ve indulged in a lifetime of fatty and sugary foods.

Your brain may actually be programmed to crave these foods, so cutting them from your diet could cause symptoms similar to drug withdrawal.

High fat diet creates a different brain

“By working with mice, whose brains are in many ways comparable to our own, we discovered that the neurochemistry of the animals who had been fed a high fat, sugary diet were different from those who had been fed a healthy diet,” said Dr. Stephanie from the CRCHUM and the University of Montreal’s Faculty of Medicine.

“The chemicals changed by the diet are associated with depression. A change of diet then causes withdrawal symptoms and a greater sensitivity to stressful situations, launching a vicious cycle of poor eating.”

Changes happen before obesity occurs

Fulton and her team fed one group of mice a healthy diet, and a second group was fed a high fat/high sugar diet. Six weeks later, the high fat group showed signs of anxiety. These mice were fat but not obese. There were increased levels of dopamine and CREB, which regulates the activation of genes that play a part in the functioning of human brains, including the formation of memory.

Stress and depression side effects of high fat diet

“CREB is much more activated in the brains of higher-fat diet mice and these mice also have higher levels of corticosterone, a hormone that is associated with stress. This explains both the depression and the negative behavior cycle,” Dr. Stephanie said.

“It’s interesting that these changes occur before obesity. These findings challenge our understanding of the relationship between diet, the body and the mind.”

“It is food for thought about how we might support people psychologically as they strive to adopt healthy eating habits, regardless of their current corpulence,” Dr. Stephanie concluded.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, International Journal of Obesity


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