A Tufts University group of scientists conducted an experiment that showed the brain may be trained to like low-calorie healthy food than high-calorie ones.
The scientists may be on the way of finding an effective solution to obesity and weight management by discovering that it is possible for the brain to be conditioned to like healthy food without resulting to deprivation, which may then lead to cravings.
According to Professor Susan Roberts in a press release, people's preferences or addiction to junk and toxic food are not inherent but rather gained through constant exposure to them. As individuals eat these types of food, their brains become more conditioned to like them instead of the healthy choices.
To prove that the brain may be rewired toward healthy eating, they conducted a study participated by 13 men and women who are overweight and obese for a period of 6 months. Using MRI scans, they measure the activities in the reward center of the brain before the experiment. The scientists then introduced a healthy eating program to 8 of them with a diet that consisted of 40 g fiber, 50% low-glycemic carbohydrates, and 25% fat and protein. The food to eat should never make them feel hungry.
After six months, the brain activity of the participants was measured again. The scientists showed different images of healthy and non-healthy food. The participants who followed a healthy diet responded more positively to healthier options, with their brain indicating enjoyment and reward. They have also become less sensitive to food that is high in calories.
Despite the positive results from the experiment, the team is also realistic that much more needs to be done to make their conclusion more concrete. They need to increase their number of subjects as well as perform a follow-up over a longer period of time. Nevertheless, they believe this process is a very effective method in controlling weight.