Eating junk food can actually change the brain, spurring symptoms of anxiety and depression if you stop consuming it, according to a new study in mice.
Researchers from the University of Montreal found that mice fed diets high in sugar and fat had different chemical activity in their brains and exhibited more signs of withdrawal if they stopped eating it, compared with those fed more healthy foods.
“The chemicals changed by the diet are associated with depression,” study researcher Dr. Stephanie Fulton said in a statement. “A change of diet then causes withdrawal symptoms and a greater sensitivity to stressful situations, launching a vicious cycle of poor eating.”
They found that the mice fed the high-fat diet were more anxious at the end of the study, and also had higher levels of the CREB molecule, which is known to play a role in dopamine production (dopamine helps promote feelings of reward). They also gained weight and the changes in the brain occured before obesity.
This is certainly not the first time junk food has been linked to negative effects in the brain. A Neurology study published last year showed a relationship between having high blood amounts of trans fats anddecreased performance on brain functioning tests, as well as decreased brain volume.
“It’s clear that trans fats are bad — both for your heart and now, we see, for your brain,” the researcher of that study, Dr. Gene Bowman, of Oregon Health & Science University, told HuffPost Food.
It is recommended that people stay away from all trans fats. If there’s vegetable shortening, partially hydrogenated anything… just put it down. You will have some withdrawal, but let it pass and eat healthy food and avoid future issues with messing with your brain chemistry.