Now, 'train your brain' to favor low-calorie food
A new study had found that training your brain to low-calorie foods over unhealthy foods may just be possible.
According to the scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University and at Massachusetts General Hospital, a brain scan study in adult men and women suggests that it is possible to reverse the addictive power of unhealthy food while also increasing preference for healthy foods.
Scientists have suspected that, once unhealthy food addiction circuits are established, they may be hard or impossible to reverse, subjecting people who have gained weight to a lifetime of unhealthy food cravings and temptation. To find out whether the brain can be re-trained to support healthy food choices, they studied the reward system in thirteen overweight and obese men and women, eight of whom were participants in a new weight loss program designed by Tufts University researchers and five who were in a control group and were not enrolled in the program.
Both groups underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans at the beginning and end of a six-month period. Among those who participated in the weight loss program, the brain scans revealed changes in areas of the brain reward center associated with learning and addiction. After six months, this area had increased sensitivity to healthy, lower-calorie foods, indicating an increased reward and enjoyment of healthier food cues. The area also showed decreased sensitivity to the unhealthy higher-calorie foods.
First author and co-corresponding author Thilo Deckersbach said although other studies had shown that surgical procedures like gastric bypass surgery could decrease how much people enjoy food generally, it wasn't very satisfactory because it took away food enjoyment generally rather than making healthier foods more appealing.
The study is published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes.
(Posted on 02-09-2014)