Tags: rich | foods | drugs | brain

Study: Rich Foods Similar to Drugs

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 11:35 AM

Can you be addicted to certain foods? Maybe not. But new research by the University of Montreal suggests rich foods can, in fact, cause chemical reactions in the brain’s “reward centers” that are surprising similar to those triggered by illicit drugs.
What’s more, the repeated “come downs” after eating rich foods can also produce neurochemical changes that may lead to depressive symptoms, according to the study published in the International Journal of Obesity. As with drug addicts, “a vicious cycle sets in where ‘food-highs’ are used as a way to combat depression,” researchers said.
"In addition to causing obesity, rich foods can actually cause chemical reactions in the brain in a similar way to illicit drugs, ultimately leading to depression as the 'come-downs' take their toll," said lead researcher Dr. Stephanie Fulton of the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre.
"Data shows that obesity is associated with increased risk of developing depression, but we have very little understanding of the neural mechanisms and brain reward patterns that link the two," she added. "We are demonstrating for the first time that the chronic consumption of palatable, high-fat diets has pro-depressive effects."
Researchers based their findings on studies of the effects of rich foods on dopamine – a brain chemical associated with positive feelings – in mice, but said they have significant implications for people, as well.
Fulton said the team’s work aims to help develop new ways to target obesity by contributing to a better understanding of the role of brain chemistry.
"With regards to research, it is urgent that we identify the molecules and neural pathways involved in obesity and obesity-related illnesses,” she said. “My colleagues and I are committed to identifying the brain circuitry involved in these diseases and to improving the tools available to researchers working in the same field."

© HealthDay

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Rich foods can cause chemical reactions in the brain comparable to those triggered by drugs.
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 11:35 AM
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