“We think the brain learns this preference,” explains Sharmili Edwin Thanaraiah, lead author of the study.
Foods high in fat and sugar they change our brains and if we regularly eat even small amounts of them, the brain learns to consume them in the future. This was found by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in collaboration with Yale University.
Why do we like unhealthy and fattening foods so much? How does this preference develop in our brain? “We think the brain learns this preference,” explains Sharmili Edwin Thanaraiah, lead author of the study.
To test this hypothesis, researchers gave a group of volunteers a small pudding high in fat and sugar every day for eight weeks, in addition to their normal diet. Another group received a pudding that contained the same number of calories, but less fat. The volunteers’ brain activity was measured before and during the eight weeks.
The brain’s response to high-fat, high-sugar foods increased significantly in the group that ate the high-fat, high-sugar pudding after eight weeks. This particularly activated the dopaminergic system, the area in the brain responsible for motivation and reward. The researchers hypothesize that the preference for sugary foods will continue after the study ends. “New connections are made in the brain and they don’t break down as quickly. After all, the whole point of learning is that once you learn something, you don’t forget it so easily.” explains Mark Tietgemeier from the same Institute, who led the study.
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