Do you fall into the category of people who eat when they’re depressed, and are depressed because they eat? As it turns out, you’re not alone and these vicious circles of eating are due to drug-like up and down response in your brain, activated specifically by rich foods.
Researchers from the Montreal Hospital Research Centre have been looking into brain activity during spells of repeatedly eating fatting foods.
Stephanie Fulton, one of the researchers, explained to EurekAlert:
“In addition to causing obesity, rich foods can actually cause chemical reactions in the brain in a similar way to illicit drugs, ultimately leading to depression as the ‘come-downs’ take their toll. We are demonstrating for the first time that the chronic consumption of palatable, high-fat diets has pro-depressive effects.”
The research team conducted experiments on mice and monitored how different diets affected the animals’ behaviour. Their results, published in the Journal of Visualized Experiments, showed that after deprivation from their respective food stuffs, mice fed higher fat diets got more anxious and depressed, and became more withdrawn, shying away from open spaces.
Now you’re probably wondering how this relates to humans? Mice and humans share the same dopamine-based reward system, so the findings could be applied to the behaviour of humans and what is commonly known as binge-eating – over consuming rich, high calorie foods. As these fatty foods start affecting us, we in turn become more low, even depressed, and eat more.
It might be a more vicious circle than first expected…