The Creepy Way Your Diet Could Be Messing With Your Brain

woman eating junk foodThe idea that processed foods are bad for us is nothing new. They're high in calories, fat, salt, chemicals, sugar -- we probably don't need to go on. But here's a NEW reason you should steer clear of that fast food drive-thru: Processed foods affect your brain.

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Healthiest Blog breaks down the results of a new study conducted by researchers from three universities: University of Georgia, Washington State University, and Binghamton University. Scientists looked at rats whose normal diets they switched to that of high-fat foods. What they found was, well, bizarre.

The new diets immediately changed the natural bacteria living in the rats' guts. Some of that important microflora started to die off.  Others grew too fast. And because there's a close relationship between the gut and the mind, the rats' brain circuits went haywire.

More specifically: Suddenly, the rats were unable to sense fullness. Which, you guessed it, led to overeating.

Um, yum?

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This crazy consequence doesn't happen when we eat mostly natural, unprocessed foods, because that's the diet we SHOULD be eating. But when our guts are walloped with tons of fat and tons of sugar? Yeah, something's gotta give, and apparently, it's our brains.

In fact, for some people, junk food addiction is a real thing. Foods high in sugar, fat, and salt stimulate the same reward center in the brain as drugs like cocaine. (And just like drug addicts, food addicts build up a tolerance  -- eventually needing to eat more and more to get the same "high.")

It's scary stuff, considering that we need food to survive and it's only meant to nourish us.

It's unclear whether the brain changes that occur after eating processed foods are only temporary. We're hoping so, but just to be on the safe side, we'll be cooking dinner from scratch at home tonight.

 

Image via © Darkcloud/iStock

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