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French fries, burgers and pizza not only have an impact on weight – a study now suggests that the brain also changes when eating too much unhealthy food. Two ingredients in particular are dangerous and affect a certain brain region.
ein a rich buffet or a nicely arranged meal on the plate – the sight of tasty dishes often reminds us of how good it is to eat them. When we are full, a certain part of our brain – the hippocampus – suppresses that memory and accordingly reduces our desire for it.
In the case of junk food such as french fries, pizza or burgers, this neural appetite regulation does not seem to work properly. At least this is the conclusion reached by researchers led by Richard Stevenson from Macquarie University in Sydney (Australia) in a small study. As in the specialist journal “Royal Society Open Science” report, a week of a diet rich in junk food can impair the function of the hippocampus.
The study is part of a large number of studies that provide evidence that too much junk food not only has an adverse effect on the figure, but also damages the brain. Among other things, it has been observed that sugar can promote forgetfulness and can lead to excessive aggressiveness, depression and stress, and can shrink certain areas of the brain. As the team led by Stevenson now reports, an unhealthy diet influences the hippocampus and increases the desire for more – even if you are already full.
In their study, the scientists included 105 young, healthy volunteers who normally followed a healthy diet and divided them into two groups. One group ate junk food for eight days, foods that were high in sugar and saturated fat. For example, there were toasted sandwiches and milkshakes or Belgian waffles for breakfast, as well as a main meal from a fast food chain later in the day. The control group ate their usual meals.
Self-control is reduced
On the first and last day of the experiment, both groups were offered different unhealthy snacks before and after breakfast. The participants had to indicate how great their desire was and then – after trying it out – evaluate how good they had tasted.
The result: in the group that had been eating waffles, burgers and the like, self-control after one week was less pronounced than in the comparison group. The participants’ appetite for unhealthy snacks was much greater, even after they had eaten enough.
The scientists now recommend that the role of the hippocampus be examined more closely: other research would have suggested that this brain region is susceptible to environmental influences, such as insomnia, stress, environmental toxins, depression and type II diabetes – all factors that are particularly prevalent in the western world World occurs frequently. Combined with an unhealthy diet, this could mean not only acute, but also long-term and increasing damage to the hippocampus.
But what if you not only want to do without junk food for the sake of the brain, but also to promote concentration and memory through nutrition? There are already several recommendations on this question. For example, long-chain, complex carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains, help to satisfy the brain’s energy requirements evenly and to concentrate better.
Omega-3 fatty acids from high-fat fish, nuts, as well as rapeseed and walnut oil are said to have a beneficial effect on the nerve cells and their interaction, and proteins from fish, seafood, lean dairy products, legumes and whole grains are also considered beneficial.