The Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in Cologne was able to showthat the brain changes through the regular consumption of high-fat and high-sugar foods. As a result, it tells us to give preference to unhealthy foods. We want more of it. This is fatal, because it is difficult for us to defend ourselves against this learned desire.
Sugar and fat activate reward systems in the brain
There is a direct connection between the brain and the intestine: when food reaches the small intestine, different sensors register whether the food contains sugar and fat. This information is transmitted to the brain via various nerve connections. The signals arrive at the brain’s reward center, making you feel good and triggering a desire for more. The current study shows that there is more than just a short-term effect in the brain.
For the study, two groups of normal-weight subjects ate a small pudding every day for eight weeks in addition to their normal food. In both groups, the pudding had the same number of calories. But in one group the pudding was high in fat and high in sugar, while in the other group it was high in protein. Before and after the eight weeks, the subjects were given milkshakes that contained different amounts of fat and sugar. They underwent an MRI scan to see what effect the high-fat, high-sugar foods had on their brains. The test persons who had received the puddings containing fat and sugar in the weeks before tasted shakes containing fat and sugar particularly better than those without fat.
reprogramming of brain networks
This feeling was also reflected in the recordings of the brains of the study participants: The reward system was particularly strongly activated in the participants trained on fat and sugar. Apparently, new nerve connections had developed there through regular consumption of the puddings. As a result, the test persons had learned to have an obviously stronger desire for fatty and sweet foods. The researchers conclude that a reprogramming of the brain networks has taken place in the brain.
These brain network changes are persistent. This means that they could ensure that in the future people will always subconsciously prefer foods that contain a lot of fat and sugar. This could encourage weight gain. Cravings for sweets and fats are served by our Western diet. Especially fast food and ready meals have both at the same time: lots of fat and lots of sugar. In nature, there are actually no foods that are both high in fat and high in sugar. That is why the combination is so dangerous for our health.
Sugar and fat promote obesity and diabetes
Once the brain has become accustomed to foods high in fat and sugar, it not only wants more and more of them, but also tends to reject foods with less fat or sugar. Everyone is born with an innate fondness for sweets, but as that fondness continues to grow through habituation, healthy foods eventually become tasteless. And sooner or later this can lead to health problems such as obesity or metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
Avoiding fat and sugar: body and brain can be “reprogrammed”
Once the brain has gotten used to a lot of fat and sugar, this cannot be dissolved so quickly. Because nutritional patterns that have been ingrained over many years are difficult to eliminate. But the body and brain can also be “reprogrammed” again, to get used to foods that are less fatty and sugary. According to nutritionists, the body needs around 60 days for this change.
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