Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Obesity changes your brain

From a 2012 article in the journal, Nature Neuroscience, there are links to a high fat diet, neurogenesis and obesity in mice. The study put mice into two groups: those fed a normal diet and those who feasted regularly on high fat foods. After 1 month of chowing down, adult mice on high fat diets had quadruple the rate of new brain cell growth in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain responsible for regulating many metabolic processes. How does neurogenesis play a role in obesity?

To answer this question, researchers irradiated the newly created portions of rats’ brains. Not only did radiation inhibit 85% of neurogenesis, but irradiated mice gained significantly less weight and fat mass compared to the group that kept their new neural growth—even though all of them stayed on the same high fat diet. Furthermore, irradiated mice used more energy and were more active despite their unhealthy diet.

Our methods to treat obesity link, between diet and exercise, leave our the neural impacts on the brain. It's rather is thought-provoking, the connection has yet to be completely figured out in humans. There is still a mystery that lies within our genes, gene expression, hormones, stomach bacteria and how certain foods trigger desire for other foods.

Social scientists are pointing at the addiction to food in the brain and the link to chemical additives in what we eat. A 2012 study from the University of Amsterdam found that challenging cognitive training lowered addiction symptoms in individuals with a drinking problems. People who trained not only drank less—they actually improved memory capacity as well.

We must retrain our brains by diligently adhering to a plan. Set yourself up for success by planning for your week on Sunday; cut prep, plan your exercise and execute your plan. When you go off plan, make a mental note as to why, what prevented you from sticking to it, how you can do it better, and get right back on plan. Avoid idle time in front of the TV, if you are sitting in front of the TV, you could be exercising. In a recent study, LSUHealth Science Center found people ate 25% more when they had meals in front of the television, as oppose to those who sat down as a family to eat together at the table.

Change your lifestyle, change your life. You might still have genetics to fight, but you are one step closer to breaking bad habits and reprogramming the chemicals in your brain to like doing good things for yourself, like eating healthy foods and exercising. You may never love them, but doing them will help you do good for yourself.

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