Have you ever tried to eat one homemade French fry or one fresh potato chip? Chances are you will eat deep fryer after deep fryer of French fries or a large bag of potato chips. A new study with rats shows that high-fat indulgence quite literally changes the flora of bacteria living inside the intestines and alters signaling to the brain. The result, the brain does not sense signals for fullness, which can cause overeating, one of the leading reasons for obesity.
Researchers at the University of Georgia, Washington State University, and Binghamton University, presented their findings at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingested Behavior, this society researches all aspects of eating and drinking behavior.
“When we switch the rats to a high-fat diet, it reorganizes brain circuits,” explained
Krzysztof Czaja, DVM, Ph.D., a principal investigator on the study who is an associate professor of neuroanatomy at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. “The brain is changed by eating unbalanced foods. It induces inflammation in the brain regions responsible for feeding behavior. Those reorganized circuits and inflammation may alter satiety signaling.” (Krzysztof Czaja, 2015)
What then happens to the microbes in the intestines after switching to a high fat diet? Dr. Czaja compares the change to a sudden significant change in temperature. Moreover, how it might affect the people who live in the area of impact: some people will have no ill effects; others will become ill.
“In the regular physiological state, many different strains of bacteria live in a balanced environment in the intestinal tract,” said Dr. Czaja. “They don’t overpopulate. There are little shifts, but in general, this population is quite stable. When we start feeding the rats a different diet, there is an immediate effect. Suddenly, different nutrients are changing the microenvironment in the gut and some bacteria begin to overpopulate. Some sensitive bacteria begin to die and some populations may even vanish. So, introducing a significant change in the gut microenvironment triggers a cascade of events that leads to this population switch.” (Krzysztof Czaja, 2015)
“These changes can cause inflammation that damages the nerve cells that carry signals from the gut to the brain, resulting in gut-brain miscommunication.” (Krzysztof Czaja, 2015) Dr. Czaja at al. does not know whether the change is permanent or reversible. They plan to address this topic in the future.
Dr. Czaja states that we should “think systematically” when it involves the diet and its effects on health. “All of the components and receptors in our body are interconnected and should work in harmony. There is not a single receptor responsible for huge physiological outcomes.”
Throughout most of human history until just a few decades ago, we were accustomed to whole foods derived from natural sources. We are not really accustomed to artificial and highly processed foods. This research gives new insight into how “ balance in the intestinal microbiota and gut-brain communication–which was well-adjusted over millennia – might be disturbed by the introduction of modified foods high in fat and sugar. Disrupting that balance leads to the confused brain and inappropriate satiety feedback that can result in obesity.” (Krzysztof Czaja, 2015)
Krzysztof Czaja, D. o. (2015, July 7). Study finds that high fat diet changes gut microbe populations and the brain’s ability to recognize fullness. Retrieved July 9, 2015, from SSIB Society for the Study of Ingested Behavior: http://www.ssib.org/web/press.php
Study finds that high fat diet changes gut microbe populations. (2015, July 8). Retrieved July 9, 2015, from MNT: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/296467.php?tw
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