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BrainFacts.org

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Obesity and the Brain

Studies of feeding behavior in animals and people have led neuroscientists to discover that complex systems in the brain, not just the intestine, determine food intake.

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Physical Exercise Beefs Up the Brain

Engaging in regular, aerobic activity may be as good for the brain as it is for the body.

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Introduction

For better or worse, you are what you eat. Certain foods and activities have beneficial effects on brain health, while others are more problematic. Obesity is deeply rooted in the brain, where hunger signals and eating behaviors are based. Fortunately, scientists are increasingly aware of how the brain processes information about food and physical activity. This information could one day help reduce the numbers of overweight and obese people, and improve long-term brain health. While eating habits were once thought to be a simple matter of self-control, researchers now know the chemical processes in the brain that drive feelings of hunger and fullness are complicated. Recent animal studies show fatty and high-calorie foods activate the brain’s reward system, and excessive eating leads to long-term brain changes. By studying the interactions between genes, brain chemicals, and the environment, researchers hope to develop new ways to address the global obesity epidemic.

Discoveries

Food for Thought: Obesity and Addiction

Source: Society for Neuroscience

Much like cigarettes and alcohol, a diet laden with fats and sugars can become dangerously addictive.


How does the brain use food as energy?

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Just like other cells in the body, brain cells use a form of sugar called glucose to fuel their activities. This energy comes from the foods we consume daily, and is regularly delivered to brain cells through the blood.

Diet and Exercise in the News

Sichuan Pepper's Buzz May Reveal Secrets Of The Nervous System

Source: National Public Radio
Date: 17 April 2014
Researchers wanted to know if the buzz from eating Sichuan peppercorn is connected to the tingling you feel when your foot falls asleep.

Why Chocolate Really is the Secret to Happiness

Source: The Washington Post
Date: 7 April 2014
Chocolate is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug: 1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine by name. 

How Running May Preserve Thinking Skills

Source: BBC
Date: 2 April 2014
Aerobic exercise in your 20s may protect the brain in middle age, according to a U.S. study.