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Study, foods high in sugar and fat shape the brain

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Study, foods high in sugar and fat shape the brain

The sweets, snacks, foods rich in fats and sugars literally modify our brain, shape the neural connections in a way that favors their repeated consumption: this is demonstrated by a work by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in Cologne, in collaboration with the Yale University, published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Researchers gave one group of volunteers a small pudding containing a lot of fat and sugar every day for eight weeks in addition to their normal diet, while a second group received a pudding with the same number of calories but less fat.

The volunteers’ brain activity was measured before and during eight weeks with an MRI scan. After eight weeks the brain’s response to foods high in fat and sugar increased markedly in the group that ate the high-fat and sugar pudding.

Particularly active was the ‘dopaminergic system‘, which is the brain region responsible for motivation and gratification. This did not happen in the brain of the control group.

“Our brain activity measurements – explains Marc Tittgemeyer, who conducted the study – have shown that the brain transforms with the repeated consumption of chips and sweets.

Learn to prefer this more rewarding food. Thanks to these brain changes, we subconsciously learn to increasingly prefer foods that contain a lot of fat and sugar. Furthermore, according to the researchers, the preference acquired for sugary and fatty foods is not transient, but will also last a long term.

“In the brain – specifies Tittgemeyer – new connections are created which do not dissolve so quickly. The point of learning is that once you learn something, you don’t forget it so quickly.”

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