High Fat DietsEasy experiments with our daily diet can make us understand that unhealthy diets like high fat diets or high sugar diets are actually the most tasty and enjoyable ones. However, they provide our body with very high amounts of calories that leads to weight gain, increased chances of developing obesity and having high risks of many serious health conditions related to being overweight and obese. Healthy diets, including low fat diets, low calorie diets, low sugar diets, and other types of diets, are usually less tasty and bring less satisfaction to us when we switch to them, that is why healthy eating for many people is linked to being less satisfied with their diet. Why do we get so much attached and like high fat or high sugar diets? Scientists have been tried to solve this mystery for many years, and the findings revealed this week in many of the leading mass media can help us get some better understandings of this phenomenon.

As a group of researchers from the University of Montreal suggested, consuming a high fat diet or a high sugar diet is linked to certain changes in human brain chemistry leading to developing natural dependence similar to the one of alcohol or drug addition. Moreover, those who consume one of high fat diets and want to switch to a healthy eating will definitely have to face serious problems because changing the diet in this case causes increased vulnerability to cycles of fasting and binge eating. In other words, giving up fat and sugar in our meals can be something similar to drug withdrawal, thus cause serious cravings with almost the same frequency and severity as the ones that cigarette or drug addicts experience.

Laboratory experiments with mice have shown that neurochemistry of brain of those mice who were fed on a type of high fat diets or high sugar diets is totally different from the one of the mice fed on a healthy diet. ‘The chemicals changed by the diet are associated with depression. A change of diet then causes withdrawal symptoms and a greater sensitivity to stressful situations, launching a vicious cycle of poor eating,’ Dr. Stephanie Fulton, one of the authors of the research, said. High Sugar DietsThe six-week experiment involved working with different groups of mice fed on various types of diets, including a low fat, a high fat, a low calorie, a high sugar, a low sugar, and other types of diet, followed by comparing the effects of such types of diets on brain chemistry and behavior of the animals.

One type of the high fat diets used for the experiment was the one with fats presenting 58 per cent of total calorie intake, and a low fat diet used was the one with fats going as low as only 11 per cent of the calories. The researchers could see that consuming the given high fat diet led to over 11 per cent increase in waist size. In addition, it became apparent to the Canadian scientists that the mice from the group fed with a high fat diet demonstrated much clearer signs of anxiety, nervousness and avoidance of open areas in their daily behavior.  That is why the researchers made up their mind to look at the changes of brain chemistry in order to understand better the processes that going on in the brain of those mice that were fed on a high fat diet.

After looking at neurochemistry of mice’s brain, the scientists looked closer at dopamine levels. Dopamine is a special molecule known for bring us good feeling and get satisfied causing certain behavior patterns. Dopamine works the same in humans and small animals like mice. Dopamine production is controlled by a special gene known as the CREB molecule, and those mice who were fed on one of high fat diets had much higher levels of this molecule causing increased dopamine production. At the same time, it turned out that increased levels of the CREB are also linked to higher levels of corticosterone, a hormone that causes feeling of anxiety, nervousness, and being depressed. ‘These findings challenge our understanding of the relationship between diet, the body and the mind,’ the study leader underlined.

Author Info: Hi! My name is Carla and I am a 5th year medical student at HYMS. I am interested in alternative medicine and I have done months researching the topic of herbal medicine. Besides, I like interviewing people and learning more about their experiences with one or another type of herbal treatments. I am willing to contribute to this site with my knowledge, and I would be happy to help you out to the best of my ability with any specific questions or problems related to alternative medicine.

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