Brain can be trained to eat healthy food
The brain can be trained to prefer healthy food over high-calorie food, even if a person is addicted to junk food, according to a new study published in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes. They key is to use a healthy diet that does not let people get hungry.
Researchers scanned the reward and addiction center in the brains of 13 overweight and obese men and women, eight of whom were involved in a specially designed weight-loss program. The program focused on changing food preferences by prescribing a diet high in fiber and protein and low in carbohydrates. But the diet did not allow participants to become hungry, which is when food cravings often take over and junk food becomes more attractive.
When the brains were scanned using MRI at the start of the study and then after six months, researchers saw changes in the reward centers of those participating in the special weight-loss program.
When participants were shown pictures of different types of food, the healthy, low-calorie foods produced more activity in the brain's reward center, suggesting that the healthy foods had become more appealing.
The researchers noted that while gastric bypass surgery usually solves weight loss problems, it also can reduce how much a person enjoys food. That's why they believe it would be a big step forward if people could learn to enjoy healthy food.