Fat change the brain similarly to drugs, researchers found

© Fotolia / lculigКрысы. Archival photoFat change the brain similarly to drugs, researchers found© Fotolia / lculig

. Eating fatty foods is changing the way that runs the pleasure center in the brains of animals, making it more sensitive to the hormone dopamine, which may explain why people gain weight, says the article, published in the journal eNeuro.

«We found evidence that regular consumption of fatty foods in late adolescence increases the sensitivity of the pleasure center to the dopamine. At this time, the brain of humans and animals are maximally vulnerable to the action of fatty foods. Given the fact that teenagers eat more nutritious food and are more likely to suffer from obesity, all this may indicate the primary mechanism of development of such problems,» — says Guillaume Ferreira (Ferreira Guilllaume) from the University of Bordeaux (France) and his colleagues.

In the last few years, scientists are finding indications that obesity and its related problems with metabolism occur not only for genetic reasons, or have problems with will power in obese people, but due to the fact that eating these foods alters brain function.

For example, two years ago, biologists have found that high calorie foods disrupts the normal operations of the gene controlling the activity of cells in the satiety center in the brain of mice, and a year ago, scientists discovered that obese people have an unusually high sensitivity to the taste of the food, and believe the sweet food is more delicious than other people, because of changes in their taste buds and other regions of the brain.

Ferreira and his colleagues found a possible cause for the development of all these violations, observing changes in the pleasure center in the brain a few rats, they were fed high-calorie and fatty just diet.

These changes scientists have tracked a fairly simple and original way – they introduced into the body of the rodent amphetamine, a stimulant of the pleasure center, similar in structure to the hormone dopamine, and watched as their appearance will be to respond to nerve cells.

Similar tests, as scientists tell will normally be applied in assessing what changes in the brain occur when taking a variety of drugs, including the amphetamines. Their essence is very simple — repeated intake of low doses of amphetamine causes similar responses of cells in the brain of a healthy animal, while the brains of drug addicts respond to drug stronger with each use.

As it turned out, fatty foods changes the brain in much the same way rats are fed fatty foods, were much more responsive to repeated doses of amphetamine than their relatives, which biologists were fed a normal diet. This was manifested in increased activity of nerve cells in the pleasure center, and in the behavior of the animals became much more active after taking the second or third dose.

Most strongly these changes manifested themselves in the case, if the rats ate greasy food in the past weeks and months, their «teenage» age. All this, according to scientists, indicates greater vulnerability of the adolescent brain to the action of fatty foods and speaks of the need for their extra protection during this critical period.


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