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Bad diets damage the brain?


According to Louis Aronne, M.D., scientists are finding the reasons why people seem to find it impossible to lose weight, even though they have tried several times very seriously by dieting and exercising. What they discovered is actually quite shocking: By over-eating for many years like many of us do, the brain is actually damaged. The eating habits actually damage the signaling pathways to the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates metabolism.  So in a nutshell, what happens is that the brain keeps giving wrong messages about appetite, hunger, and fullness. (from Melanie Haiken, www.forbes.com).
If you think about it, the scientific findings confirm what we actually already knew: a person who is over-eating is hungry for more during the day, and often also during the night, while actually the body has already consumed all the calories it needed to perform. Some scientists and nutritionists relate this to sugar levels or other triggers, but this study relates it to actual damage of the nerves that conduct the signals to the hypothalamus.I always come back to why I believe specifically Americans are so much over-weight, which is the abundantly availability of Fast Food and the lack of time and effort to cook a good meal at home. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition statistics from a 2010 report show a staggering increase in the availability of food products in the USA from 1909 to 2007 (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/91/5/1530S.full). According to the report “added oils increased from 16.1 to 39.4 kg/y, meat increased from 56.3 to 91.2 kg/y, cheese increased from 1.7 to 14.9 kg/y, and frozen dairy products increased from 0.7 to 11.5 kg/y. From 1970 to 2007, per capita availability of sweeteners increased from 54.1 to 62.0 kg/y.” And we all know it, right?  When you are my age or older you know that our fridges are much more full nowadays than 30, 40 years ago. I remember that we only had soda on Saturday evening – which was a real treat – and on week-days we drank water if we were thirsty. So with all that food that is available to us we tend to eat more than we really need and once the brain is overstimulated or damaged, we keep increasing the food intake. And we hardly have to use energy to get to all that food. We just drive by the fast-food window and most of the energy we spend is by lifting the bag into the car.
So how to lose weight?
To lose the weight you will have to reduce the amount of fatty food and change to more healthy diet that cuts calories and reduces fat. In principle, any weight loss diet will work as long as we stick to it. And that is where the hard part comes in. Starting a weight loss diet is one thing, keeping it up is another. Every time we walk past the fridge or drive by the fast food restaurant we are tempted to listen to the brain and to start eating (too much) again. The reason that weight comes back after being on a diet has everything to do with returning to bad habits again. And if the study is right and the brain is damaged by eating fatty foods for a long time, it also will take time to heal the brain. And only when the brain is sending the correct signals about appetite, hunger and fullness we will be able to withstand the fast food lane.
So get on a reduced calorie diet fast and follow it for a longer period (several months to a year). And only then you might be able to keep the weight off. And the fast food lane? Don’t go there for a long, long time.
Okke Alberda
Cambridge Diet Arizona

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