High-fat diets cause new brain cells to sprout in an area of the brain that seems to regulate eating.
Does your diet consist of eating too many French fries and burgers? Then, the effects would not only show up in your weight but also in your brain, scientists say.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US have discovered that high-fat diets cause new brain cells in mice to sprout in an area of the brain that seems to regulate eating.
Interestingly, the new brain-cell growth was stopped, the mice gained less weight and stayed more active even while eating their “supersize” diet, the researchers said.
“We really don’t understand the function of these neurons in the normal brain,” study researcher Seth Blackshaw was quoted as saying by LiveScience.
“Our data suggests that these neurons may have an important role in regulating feeding,” he said, adding the finding may lead to developing new diet-regulating therapies for humans too.
According to the team, the cells are located in a part of the brain, called the median eminence, which lies at the edge of a fluid-filled chamber and therefore outside of the blood-brain barrier (which keeps toxic substances out of the brain), but it extends deep into the hypothalamus.
The hypothalamus plays a role in regulating how our bodies spend the energy they take in and sends out signals to the body through the pituitary gland to control hunger, thirst and behavior.
Because the median eminence is in contact with areas of the body outside the blood-brain barrier, the researchers think it may be detecting chemicals in the blood and transferring signals about the condition of the body into the hypothalamus, which can then make decisions about eating.
In the study, published in journal Nature Neuroscience, the researchers wanted to see how brain cells in the median eminence reacted to a high-fat diet, so they put mice on a “Big Mac” diet — which contained 60 per cent fat instead of the 35 per cent fat in regular mouse chow.
The researchers found that on the high-fat diet, creation of new brain cells in the median eminence increased from one per cent to five per cent.
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Via Times of India