Rewire Your Brain

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People can train their brains to love healthy foods, according to a study from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. The researchers studied the brain’s reward system in 13 overweight and obese men and women. MRI brain scans were given at the start and after a six-month period where participants either followed a weight loss protocol or served as a control group. Results showed that after six months of eating well, the area of the brain associated with learning and addiction showed significant changes in the weight-loss group. This area had increased sensitivity to healthy, lower-calorie foods, indicating an increased reward and enjoyment of healthier food cues. The area also showed decreased sensitivity to unhealthy, higher-calorie foods. This research provides hope that food addiction is reversible and that the brain can be “rewired” to love healthy foods after a lifetime of poor food choices.
Deckersbach T, Das S, Urban L, et al: Pilot randomized trial demonstrating reversal of obesity-related abnormalities in reward system responsivity to food cues with a behavioral intervention. Nutrition & Diabetes 2014: September 1st.

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