Your brain can learn to crave junk food

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Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in Cologne and Yale University have revealed something unsettling about our eating habits.

They found that our brains can actually learn to prefer high-fat and high-sugar foods over healthier options.

How Was the Study Conducted?

In the experiment, one group of volunteers was given a pudding high in fat and sugar for eight weeks, while another group received a lower-fat pudding with the same calorie count.

Brain scans before and after the study showed that those eating the high-fat, high-sugar pudding had significant changes in the brain region associated with motivation and reward.

What Does This Mean?

This study indicates that regularly consuming unhealthy foods could change how our brains are wired, creating a preference for such foods.

While the study didn’t show weight gain or altered blood values in participants, the researchers argue that the acquired preference for unhealthy foods would likely persist, making it harder to opt for healthier alternatives.

Why Is This Important?

This newfound understanding emphasizes the need for making mindful food choices.

Once our brain gets ‘hooked’ on unhealthy options, it might be difficult to break the cycle, highlighting the importance of early and consistent healthy eating habits.

Tips for Healthy Eating Habits

  1. Diversify Your Diet: Include a variety of foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  2. Limit Unhealthy Options: Cut down on foods high in added sugar and processed items.
  3. Opt for Whole Foods: Choose foods closest to their natural form.
  4. Portion Control: Be aware of serving sizes and avoid overeating.
  5. Eat Slowly: This helps you feel fuller and prevent overeating.
  6. Stay Hydrated: Drinking enough water can help you feel full.
  7. Meal Prep: Planning meals in advance ensures you always have healthy options.
  8. Home Cooking: Cooking at home lets you control what goes into your food.
  9. Listen to Your Body: Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.
  10. Seek Professional Guidance: If you find it hard to maintain healthy habits, consult a registered dietitian.

Additional Reading

For those interested in nutrition science, consider studies that suggest whole grain foods might extend your life, vitamin D supplements may significantly reduce cancer death rates, plant nutrients could help lower high blood pressure, and flavonoid-rich foods might improve survival rates in Parkinson’s disease.

The study was led by Dana Small and is published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and vitamin D supplements strongly reduce cancer death.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about plant nutrient that could help reduce high blood pressure, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.

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