Binge Eating High Fat Foods May Rewire Brains
A recent study on rat behavior from the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute may shed light into how overeating wires the brain to perpetuate unhealthy eating habits.
Associate professor Stephanie Borgland says the study suggests eating high fat foods could modify our brains within relatively short amounts of time, assuming our brains react similarly to the mice involved in the study.
“We show that when you pig out on something that is sweetened and high fat, that those synapses will change and that message will be strengthened and drive your food-seeking behavior the rest of the week and make you eat more,” Borgland told CBC News.
This change in brain wiring could potentially have much more serious long-term consequences as well.
“It might have been beneficial in a time where there was not as much food around,” she said. “But now that we are in an environment where there is lots of palatable food … it is going to lead us to overeat if those cues are always present.”
Borgland says more research is needed to confirm the findings and recreate the findings in human studies, but the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States provides some key takeaways.
“We know that our reward system drives food-seeking and when the food is more palatable, obviously we are more motivated to get it. But we have to engage more inhibitory control mechanisms, like willpower, to stop us from eating,” she said.
“That is a skill that we have to engage in now.”