In a new study, researchers found eating a diet of high-fat foods can change the brain super quickly.
The diet contributes to irregularities in the hypothalamus region of the brain. The hypothalamus regulates body weight homeostasis and metabolism.
While research has pointed to how an unhealthy diet correlates to obesity, researchers haven’t explored how diet can bring about neurological changes in the brain.
In the study, the team evaluated how the consumption of a high-fat diet—specifically diets that include high amounts of fats and carbohydrates—stimulates hypothalamic inflammation, a physiological response to obesity and malnutrition.
The researchers reaffirmed that inflammation occurs in the hypothalamus as early as three days after consumption of a high-fat diet, even before the body begins to display signs of obesity.
The researchers observed hypothalamic inflammation in animals on a high-fat diet and discovered that changes in physical structure occurred among the microglial cells of animals.
These cells act as the first line of defense in the central nervous system that regulates inflammation.
The team found that the activation of the microglia was due to changes in their mitochondria, organelles that help our bodies derive energy from the food we consume.
The mitochondria were substantially smaller in the animals on a high-fat diet.
The team showed the activation in the brain that, when receiving an inflammatory signal due to the high-fat diet, stimulated the animals in the high-fat diet group to eat more and become obese.
The study not only illustrates how high-fat diets affect us physically but conveys how an unhealthy diet can alter our food intake neurologically.
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The study is published in Cell Metabolism. One author of the study is Sabrina Diano.
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