How Your Diet Damages Your Brain and Weight
From processed foods to added sugars—everything is a threat to your ability to lose weight. But did you know your brain might be your biggest fat loss foe? That food might actually change your brain and cause you to stay overweight?
It’s what the smart folks in white coats are saying. But there’s a good ending to this story—you CAN change it back.
How the Diet Damages the Brain
You didn’t damage your brain overnight, but years of overeating and poor food choices did cause actual changes to your brain.
Scientists have discovered that of all the environmental factors that have an impact on your weight—nutrients are clearly the most influential.
With a normal diet, your hypothalamus and other neuronal processes moderate and correct disturbances in energy metabolism to ensure your body weight stays within its normal limits. It does so via how it responds to food and the hormones it outputs to force bodily reactions.
The body created this response as a result of experience. It’s called brain plasticity. That means your brain makes pathways for signaling and response based on your actions and repeated results.
So, when you’re learning as an infant and toddler, your experiences are literally mapping your brain for expectations. The experience/learning relationship drives your brain pathways and response.
It was once thought that plasticity stops right around puberty, but a super smart guy named Dr. Merzenich disproved that. Our brains can change based on our experiences and learning.
From learning new music and languages to learning new ways to eat—the brain is always listening..and watching.
So how does it happen?
When we eat bad foods like simple carbs and inflammatory fats, the brain experiences a cascade effect of neural response that causes damage. Hormones are released, pro-inflammatory elements are released, neurons are overloaded with the cascade. This causes a neural rioting which damages neurological pathways in the hypothalamus that are used to maintain a normal metabolism.
It particularly impacts the hunger hormones leptin and grehlin. After repeated exposure to this madness, the simple sugars and inflammatory fats damage the nerves, affect hormonal responses and in turn the body’s metabolism governor is broken. Your body no longer knows how much you should eat, when you are full. It no longer knows how much fat you have stored or how much to store, it just stores. More and more and more.
How Can I Change My Brain Back?
Knowing that you changed your brain with food means you can change it back. First and foremost—you need to stop eating the things damaging it. Simple carbs, sugars, fatty foods, processed foods—stop. If you can’t stop right away, cut way back. The more you eat them, the more damage you’re doing.
Also, the longer you don’t eat them, the less you’ll crave them. Science shows that the brain can unlearn to crave foods if you don’t reward it with the foods you’re craving. Cold turkey doesn’t usually work the best for people—so remove things one by one. No more pop one week. Get rid of sweet junk next. Remove fried foods next and so on.
Replace the bad with the good. You can eat foods that trick your brain into thinking you’re still getting the good stuff. Read about foods that replace cravings here for a list of ideas.
Retrain your brain with one response. When you get a craving for fried foods or simple carbs, simply eat the same exact thing each time you get those cravings until your brain gives up. It’s the Pavlov Dog training that will eventually have your brain bored and your health in a better state.
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