A new study shows that sugar and fat change the brain

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Our brains are altered by sugar and fat, which makes us crave them more and more. This is the result of a recent study by the Max Planck Institute. The craving for unhealthy food promotes diabetes and obesity. What happens in the body?

The Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in Cologne was able to show that the brain changes as a result of the regular consumption of foods high in fat and sugar. As a result, it virtually tells us to prefer unhealthy foods. We want more of it. This is fatal because we find it difficult to resist this learned craving.

Sugar and fat activate the reward system in the brain
There is a direct connection between the brain and the gut: when food reaches the small intestine, various sensors register whether the food contains sugar and fat. This information is transmitted to the brain via various nerve connections. The signals reach the brain’s reward center, making us feel good and triggering a desire for more. However, the current study shows that there is more than just a short-term effect on the brain.

For the study, two groups of normal-weight test subjects ate a small pudding every day for eight weeks in addition to their normal diet. The pudding had the same number of kilocalories in both groups. However, the pudding had a lot of fat and sugar in one group while having a lot of protein in the other. Before and after the eight weeks, the test subjects were given milkshakes to drink, which contained different amounts of fat and sugar. They underwent MRI scans to see what effect this high-fat and high-sugar food had on their brains. The test subjects who had been given the fat- and sugar-containing puddings in the weeks before tasted particularly fatty and sugary shakes better than those without fat.

Reprogramming of the brain networks
This sensation was also reflected in the images of the brains of the study participants: the reward system was particularly strongly activated in the participants trained on fat and sugar. New neural connections had developed there as a result of the regular consumption of the puddings. As a result, the test subjects had learned to crave fatty and sweet foods more strongly. The researchers concluded that a reprogramming of the brain networks had taken place in the brain.

These changes in the brain networks are persistent. This suggests that they could ensure that people will inadvertently always choose foods that are high in fat and sugar in the future. This could promote weight gain. The Western diet satisfies our cravings for foods high in fat and sugar. Particularly fast food and prepared meals are high in fat and sugar. In nature, there are no foods that are high in both fat and sugar. That’s why the combination is so dangerous for our health.

Sugar and fat promote obesity and diabetes
Once the brain has become accustomed to high-fat and high-sugar foods, it not only wants more and more of them but also tends to reject foods with less fat or sugar. All people have an innate taste for sweets, but if this preference is cultivated over time, healthy foods eventually lose their flavor. And sooner or later, this can lead to health problems such as obesity or metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

Eliminating sugar and fat can “reprogramme” the body and brain.
Once the brain has become accustomed to eating a lot of fat and sugar, it is not easy to undo this. This is because eating patterns that have become ingrained over many years are difficult to eliminate. However, it is also possible to “reprogramme” the body and brain to become accustomed to eating less fatty and sugary foods. According to nutritionists, the body needs around 60 days to make this change.

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