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How french fries control your brain

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
French fries and other high fat foods can control your brain

University of Georgia, Washington State University and Binghamton University researchers have some new insight into what happens to the gut and brain when we eat a high fat diet. French fries or other foods with high fat appear to alter gut bacteria that send the brain signals to tell us when we're full.


High-fat foods change bacteria in the gut that signal our brain, making us want to continue eating. The findings are presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior.

How fatty foods get into your brain

We all know that overeating is the reason we gain weight. Food that is high in fat makes us want to eat more because it changes brain circuitry to trick us into thinking we need to eat more.

See: How low fat foods can lead to weight gain

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Krzysztof Czaja, DVM, PhD, who is one of the lead study authors and an associate professor of neuroanatomy at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine said in a media release, "The brain is changed by eating unbalanced foods. It induces inflammation in the brain regions responsible for feeding behavior", found in studies the researchers conducted on rats fed a high fat diet.

Czaja and his team found changes in gut bacteria when they fed rats a high fat diet. Some microbes in the intestines overpopulated, while others died. The researcher say the high fat foods fed to rats promote inflammation and damage to the nerve cells that signal the brain.

Dr. Czaja says we should "think systemically." "All of the components and receptors in our body are interconnected and should work in harmony. There is not a single receptor responsible for huge physiological outcomes."

Foods that are high in fat and sugar are known to be inflammatory and promote a wide variety of diseases. The researchers point that our bodies are accustomed to whole foods. Obesity rates have risen in the last few decades with the introduction of artificial ingredients and pre-packaged prepared foods. The study authors plan to continue exploring the gut brain connection to find out if the changes seen in intestinal microbes might be reversible.

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