Obesity and your Brain

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This just in from the Society for Neuroscience. For many years, throughout my yo-yoing (one friend calls herself Queen of the Weight Lost & Found Dept.) I joked that I was a food-a-holic. Now science is indicating I may not have been wrong!

Yet, I believe that just as any addict can beat their addiction with proper realizations and treatment, anyone can beat their bad food cravings and habits. My 60-day juice fest was my “rehab” and when I was done I had zero desire for refined carbs & sugars.

Check out what the science is saying:

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Health Implications
Stemming an obesity epidemic

fear chart
Fat cells produce a hormone called leptin, which travels through the body’s blood stream and acts on a brain region called the hypothalamus. Leptin helps to regulate appetite and metabolism. A lack of leptin, or its receptor in the brain, can lead to uncontrolled food intake and obesity. Credit: ©1997 Society for Neuroscience, Illustration by Lydia Kibiuk

Thanks to decades of systematic research, scientists now better understand how the brain tightly regulates body weight. Why, then, do obesity rates continue to climb? New research is investigating how complex environments — including the increased availability of highly palatable but nutritionally poor foods in developed countries — affect brain chemistry. The findings indicate the importance of healthy choices in maintaining weight and suggest new avenues of treatment.

Food as an Addiction

Neuroscientists have recently learned that fatty food taps the pleasure centers of the brain, the same areas that are associated with heroin and cocaine habits. For addicted individuals, eating becomes compulsive, regardless of negative health or societal consequences.

Research shows that after extended periods of excessive eating, brain connections are permanently altered on a molecular level. In rats fed a high-fat, high-calorie diet, the brain pleasure centers become less responsive over time, just as they do following drug use. Moreover, when the rats were offered healthy food after weeks of junk food, they were less likely to eat it than rats fed healthy food only. These findings suggest the difficulty in changing established eating habits and highlight the importance of obesity prevention.

 

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