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It’s as if the universe wants to put us to the test. The food that we find most difficult to renounce is frequently the one that is worst for our body.
If you are told you have to stop eating cucumber, spinach, carrots … The sacrifice does not seem so big. But and give up some fries or a sweet? There is something that makes them almost irresistible.
But, no, the fault is not yours. It is not because of lack of will or because of a genetic defect. The fault is that the food that we most want to eat is the one that most fattens the brain.
A research team from Yale University in the United States has studied how our brain responds to food and found that those that contain both carbohydrates and fats excessively activate their reward center.
Dana Small, leader of the study published in the journal Metabolism Cell (Cell metabollism , in English ) recorded with his team of researchers at the brain activity of a group of volunteers who were shown pictures of food with a high carbohydrate content , others with a high fat content and other photographs of products that contained both.
Then they were asked what food they would bid on more if they were submitted to an auction.
Compared to products that contained only sugar or only carbohydrates, the team saw that foods with both components, such as donuts, generated much more activity in the striatum of the brain , a region involved in the production of dopamine , the neurotransmitter of pleasure.
In addition, they were also willing to pay more money for a food with sugar and carbohydrates.
Deceptions of modern food
Small believes that this may mean that the brain has different systems for evaluating fatty or high-carbohydrate foods. If both are activated at the same time, this induces the brain to produce more dopamine and thus obtain a greater sense of reward.
But that is an effect caused by the food we consume now. The researcher maintains that our ancestors were not faced with a double stimulus when their diet was based on animals and plants.
“Our brain is used to receiving a single signal but modern food is cheating the system.”
The finding coincides with studies in rodents that revealed that these mammals can regulate their calorie intake when given foods that contain only fats or carbohydrates, but overfeed and get fat when they eat foods that contain both components.