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Fatty foods vs. the brain

Indulging in the occasional treat is normal, but Big Macs aren’t just dangerous to your waistline—they can also be bad for your brain health. Today, we’re diving into the realm of junk food to find out what exactly happens when you eat your favorite fast food. 

Forgetting things? It may be your diet

Eating a diet rich in fat can make your brain insulin-resistant, significantly impacting your memory, ability to learn, energy levels, and ability to manage your weight. If you’ve found yourself searching for your lost keys more than once this week, it may be time to reduce your fat intake. 

A bigger brain… and that’s not a good thing

In the movie Hitch, Will Smith’s allergic reaction becomes a big (as in swollen!) deal. The high levels of fat and sugar in junk food can cause a similar reaction in your brain. After just five days of a sugary diet, the neuroinflammation in your brain can cause damage to the neurons in your brain and eventually lead to a damaged hippocampus. Since the hippocampus is your “off” switch for food, damage causes a disconnect as it tries to send fullness-signaling messages to the gut, creating a cycle of overeating and more inflammation. 

Feeling down? It’s not you. It’s what you’re eating. 

An article on Harvard Health Publishing‘s website referenced studies that compared depression levels in people on traditional diets, like the Mediterranean or Japanese diet, with those who consumed a more typical Western diet. Those who ate a diet rich in whole foods showed a 25% to 35% reduction in risk of depression. 

The study cited reduced sugar and processed foods and an increase in fermented foods, which act as natural probiotics, as reasons for the health benefits. 

Not all fat is bad fat

When we talk about fat, we’re talking trans-saturated fats—like potato chips, cheeseburgers, french fries, and other processed foods. On the other hand, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good for you. Foods like eggs, nuts, avocados, fish, and olives are high in the good type of fat and can actually lower your risk of disease. 

Combat cravings with cardio

If you’re the owner of a food-motivated dog, you know that tricks must be rewarded with treats. Treat yo’ self culture isn’t limited to man’s best friend, though. 

Our brains are hardwired to seek the pleasure of fatty foods, and the reward center of your brain lights up every time you comply. So how do you go cold turkey on junk food so you can trade Twinkies for, well, turkey? 

A study in NeuroReport reveals a positive correlation between the number of minutes people exercise each week and how their brains respond to food stimuli. 

Want to reduce your cravings without feeling like you’re missing out on something? Increase your weekly exercise, and your cravings will naturally begin to wane. 

Sign up for a private session with Enhancewell Fitness for accountability, support, and results. Your body— especially your brain— will thank you for it! 

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