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Study finds it's possible to train the brain to choose healthier food over junk food


Brain health
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(NaturalNews) For many people, it's difficult to break their pattern of reaching for unhealthy, processed foods that are laden with chemicals and a high sugar and fat content. While they're aware that eating more fruits and vegetables is necessary to fight obesity, diabetes, skin conditions and a slew of other health concerns that come as a result of partaking in a traditional junk food diet, it's easier said than done.

Or is it?

New research has shown that it may be possible to train the brain to actually desire the likes of broccoli over foods like French fries and in turn, be a healthier, non-invasive alternative to methods such as gastric bypass surgery. (1)

Scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University and at Massachusetts General Hospital set out to determine how people react to healthier foods over time. (1) Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans of groups of overweight and obese men and women were analyzed by these experts over a six-month period while they consumed a variety of foods, including one specialized healthy-eating program put together by the researchers.

After six months, it was noted that the portion of the brain linked to rewards as it relates to addiction and learning was more sensitive in response to eating lower-calorie, healthy foods than when eating other, unhealthier alternatives.(1)

Weight loss surgery not necessary to train the body to eat healthier

"Although other studies have shown that surgical procedures like gastric bypass surgery can decrease how much people enjoy food generally, this is not very satisfactory because it takes away food enjoyment generally rather than making healthier foods more appealing," says first author and co-corresponding author Thilo Deckersbach, Ph.D., who is also a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.(1) "We show here that it is possible to shift preferences from unhealthy food to healthy food without surgery, and that MRI is an important technique for exploring the brain's role in food cues."(1)

Healthy foods eaten by the participants were primarily high fiber, low-glycemic options.

According to co-author Sai Krupa Das, Ph.D., a scientist in the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA and an assistant professor at the Friedman School, "our study shows those who participated in it had an increased desire for healthier foods along with a decreased preference for unhealthy foods, the combined effects of which are probably critical for sustainable weight control."(1)

Additional health benefits of eating better

Not only is eating healthier linked to weight control and improving other health conditions, but other findings have also linked it with greater psychological growth that includes a heightened sense of well being and a more enhanced desire for curiosity and creativity.(2) "Young adults who ate more fruits and vegetables reported higher average eudaemonic well-being, more intense feelings of curiosity, and greater creativity compared with young adults who ate less fruits and vegetables," say the researches in this particular study.(2)

Healthy eating helps people from both the physical and emotional front; fresh, whole foods that consist mainly of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds can improve energy, build stronger bones, regulate mood, control weight, help the digestive system and much more.(3)

Sources:

(1) http://www.sciencedaily.com

(2) http://blogs.naturalnews.com

(3) http://www.livestrong.com

About the author:
Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general. >>> Click here to see more by Michelle

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