Unless you don’t pay attention to your biology teachers, the news, your nutrition labels, or your doctors, you should be well aware of the damaging physical effects of obesity. While most people are aware of how obesity affects the body, people are not as cognizant of how obesity affects the brain. Obesity is rampant in our society, with more than a third of US adults suffering from it. Understanding how obesity affects the brain is key to understanding how people with obesity can be healthier.
While maintaining a poor diet is not the only way to become obese, poor diet definitely plays a huge part in causing obesity. Excess sugar consumption and junk food consumption can change how your brain functions in the following ways:
1. Junk food consumption causes chemical changes in the brain, which correlates to development of anxiety and depression. If your diet consists of a lot of junk food, trying to cut out junk food can cause you to experience withdrawal symptoms. The feeling of being unable to handle stress without junk food causes junk foodies to go back to junk food consumption.
2. People who consume junk food regularly tend to not eat as much healthy food that contains essential nutrients necessary for good brain health.
3. Trans fats, which are commonly found in fast food, displace omega fatty acids, which are crucial to optimal brain function.
4. Sugar consumption activates your brain’s reward system. While occasional activation is fine, overly frequent activation causes intense sugar cravings and increased sugar tolerance.
5. High sugar diets slow the brain by damaging synapses, which hinders both learning ability and memory retention.
6. Junk food tends to cause the release of serotonin, a mood-boosting neurotransmitter. The brain’s supply of this neurotransmitter is limited, and constantly causing the release of serotonin can cause the serotonin supply to be quickly depleted. A lack of serotonin has been shown to contribute to depression.
7. Insulin resistance, high blood glucose levels, and other markers for diabetes, have been linked to greater risk for developing neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s.
The excess consumption of sugar and junk food can change damage your brain in serious ways. But once a person actually becomes obese, there are even more damaging psychological effects that can occur, such as:
1. Harassment from their peers can cause obese people to suffer from low self-esteem, and possibly depression.
2. Obese children may regularly indulge in binge-eating for the sake of stress relief.
3. Obese individuals are more likely to suffer from anxiety and participate in substance abuse.
Taking care of your diet and body is critical. Harm will not only befall your body, but your mind as well. Remember, everything in moderation!