It seems common sense to say no to hot chips and hamburgers if you want to shed some pounds. However, new reports show that giving up fatty foods could send dieters on a downward spiral.
Researchers say dieting can actually make people feel depressed as cutting out fatty foods alters their brains. What’s more, the chemical changes in the brain could cause people to enter a vicious cycle of poor eating.
As sugary and fatty foods cause chemical alterations in the body, the researchers liken going on a diet as similar to drug withdrawal. This can make adopting healthy eating habits much harder.
By working with mice, researchers at the University of Montreal discovered the neurochemistry of the animals who were fed a high-fat, sugary diet was different from those who had been fed a healthy diet. Therefore when a person changes their diet, the brain also alters which can lead to symptoms of depression and negative behaviour.
"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," says study leader Dr Stephanie Fulton.
The scientists also found that the chemical dopamine – which is responsible for making people feel good – was more activated in the brains of the higher-fat mice. This means that some people use fatty foods to make themselves feel better. The scientists linked the dopamine 'high' of junk food addiction with drug addiction.
Dr Fulton believes this research is vital for looking at how we could support people psychologically when they strive to adopt a healthy eating plan. Related content:
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