Foods Containing Both Fats And Carbs Hijack Our Brains: Research

Maricruz Casares
Junio 17, 2018

Senior author Prof Dana Small, director of the Modern Diet and Physiology Research Centre at Yale University in the USA, said: "Surprisingly, foods containing fats and carbohydrates appear to signal their potential caloric loads to the brain via distinct mechanisms".

He says the problem lies with the overwhelming urge we have to consume carbohydrates and fats and it often happens subconsciously.

"Surprisingly, foods containing fats and carbohydrates appear to signal their potential caloric loads to the brain via distinct mechanisms", Small said. It also suggests people are willing to pay more for them, even those who don't like eating fatty and carb-rich foods.

"People were really good at estimating how many calories were in fat, but they were bad at estimating how many calories were in different carbohydrate foods", Small said.

The volunteers' brains were scanned as they decided how much to bid for reach snack.

When we are faced with foods both high in fat and carbohydrates, like many processed foods are, the part of the brain in charge of processing reward is kicked into a higher gear when compared with foods high in one or the other, according to a team of researchers in the U.S., Germany, Switzerland, and Canada.

Well, the study showed that majority were willing to more for the food items such as hamburgers or donuts, which contained both carbohydrates and fats together as compared to the food items that contained just fats such as salami or cheese or those with carbohydrates and no fats such as pretzels and bread. "They are affecting our physiology differently", Small said.

"Consistent with this suggestion, rodents given access to fat alone or carbohydrate alone regulate their total daily caloric intake and body weight but given unrestricted access to fat and carbohydrates, they quickly gain weight".

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They also asked their volunteers to estimate how many calories were in the foods offered. "In nature, these sorts of foods don't exist".

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate mostly woody plants and animal meat, the researchers said.

"These results provide the first demonstration that foods high in fat and carbohydrate are, calorie for calorie, valued more than foods containing only fat or carbohydrate and that this effect is associated with greater recruitment of central reward circuits", the authors write.

There is no natural equivalent of a doughnut or a burger, for example.

This suggests that foods with both fats and carbs activate the reward centers in the brain and are more alluring and habit-forming, nearly the same way drugs are addicting.

"It's not a conscious response", Small said.

"I am partial as well", she said.

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