The battle of junk food versus healthy food is always associated with the thought of one’s physical characteristics such as weight. But newfound science shows that the kind of food you eat greatly affects the physiology of your brain as well. The brain is made up of hundreds of neurons and matter that depend on important minerals and nutrients. Just like the rest of your body, if your brain becomes deficient in these nutrients, it will begin to malfunction and lead to several mental disorders. Here are some ways in which healthy food and junk food affect your brain.
Junk Food Negatively Affects Our Mood
Research reveals that people who eat fast food are 51% more likely to suffer from depression, as compared to people that prefer to eat healthy food. The sugars and carbohydrates in junk food inhibit the production of neurons in the brain, which in turn can lead to mental disorders. This results in a self-perpetuating cycle – as junk food gives you a surge of momentary pleasure, you end up eating more only to make you feel worse.
Healthy Food Satisfies Hunger
Healthy food is rich in essential nutrients and dietary fibers. These are an essential part of the diet which are important factors that signal your brain to trigger feelings of satiety. The fiber content makes your stomach fuller while simultaneously processing the vital nutrients required for your body. Junk food, on the other hand, dulls the sense of satiety in your brain and makes you feel like you are not full yet. This results in eating more to obtain that feeling of being full without actually gaining any nutritional content.
Junk Food Causes “Brain Fog”
Several studies have shown that the sugars present in fast food have a debilitating effect on the brain’s nerve cells. Sugar catalyzes the production of free radicals in the membranes which inhibits the nerve cells’ ability to communicate efficiently. Such physiological changes in the brain cause you to become slower at remembering instructions, processing ideas, and controlling emotions.
Health Food Improves Learning
Simple memory tests conducted by researchers have indicated that people who eat healthy food perform significantly better than those with unhealthy diets. Unlike healthy food, junk food contains excess sugars that cause a reduction in the size of the hippocampus – a region in the brain responsible for memory, cognition and learning. Whereas, people who eat vegetables, fruits and fish end up with a larger hippocampus. Such foods contain nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins that are essential to a healthy brain.
Junk Food Causes Addiction
Sugar is something that the brain can easily get addicted to. The chemical amalgam in sugars activate brain receptors associated with addictive behaviour. The brain begins to mimic the same tendencies that it would have with drugs and alcohol, as a result of releasing a chemical called dopamine. The dopamine levels also vary in the same pattern as any other addictive substances. Hence, it is important to regulate sugar levels by consuming a more balanced diet.
One might feel like sugar should be completely eliminated from our diet. But this is unnecessary and in fact, a little bit of sugar is important for the body. Instead, what we do need to keep in mind is that sugars and fats need to be consumed in moderation.