Researchers from The University of North South Wales have for the first time established that ‘comfort eating’ may perhaps reverse the effects in the brain of psychological trauma experienced early in life.
Consuming delicious food rich in fat and sugar could possibly alter the chemical composition in the brain. Moreover, it may able to change ameliorate anxiety-like behaviour induced in early life. The research findings appear to be added evidence of the flexibility of the brain and its ability to re-map neural networks.
“What’s exciting about this is that we are able to reverse a behavioral deficit that was caused by a traumatic event early in life, simply through a dietary intervention,” says Professor of Pharmacology Margaret Morris.
For the purpose of better understanding this criterion, researchers were noted to have examined rats in the lab. They later divided the rats into groups and either isolated from their mothers for controlled periods of time in order to induce stress or given normal maternal contact.
“Many neurological diseases appear to have their origins early in life. Stress hormones definitely affect the way nerve cells grow in the brain. This discovery may be giving us a clue about a different way to tackle a range of conditions that affect mood and behaviour,” explains Morris.
Besides being more anxious, animals that were subjected to stress early in life seemed to have higher levels of stress hormones and less steroid receptors in the part of the brain controlling behaviour. Moreover, both the anxious behavior and the levels of hormones in these rats were observed to have been reversed with the introduction of high-fat foods.
The researcher claimed that eating palatable food seems to affect neurogenesis similar to the way anti-depressants encourage nerve growth in the brain. They may require to test this possibility more and examine other interventions such as exercise.
The findings of the research have been published in the journal, Psychoneuroendocrinology.