According to a study conducted at the University of Georgia, Washington State University and Binghamton University, adopting high-fat diets can literally change the population of microbes residing in the gut. The intriguing findings also suggest that these diets alter certain signaling pathways to the brain, paralyzing the senses, including the feeling of fullness. Consequently, it results in overeating and medical problems arising due to one being overweight.

The study is to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, the society that conducts research on the various aspects of eating and drinking behaviour.

Consuming Fatty Diet– Effects On The Brain

Associate Professor of Neuroanatomy at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, Krzysztof Czaja, DVM, PhD was a principal investigator on the study. Dr. Czaja explained that consuming unbalanced foods causes inflammation in the part of the brain that regulates feeding patterns. When their experimental subjects – rats – were shifted to high fat diets, it literally altered their brain circuits. This alternation, along with inflammation might be involved in upsetting signals of satiety to the brain.

High-Fat Diets And The Gut

Dr. Czaja further explained the effects fat-rich diets have on the gut microbiome. In a proper physiological state, there is a specific balance between various strains of bacteria that can be found inside the gut. Generally speaking, these populations remain relatively stable. When the research team fed rats a diet rich in fats, a cascade of deleterious events was observed. Certain bacterial strains were seen to immediately overpopulate, changing the entire microenvironment of the gut. Some sensitive species even began to die, while others could ultimately vanish.

Similar to altered brain functioning, changes in the microbiome causes inflammation and damage to nerve cells carrying signals to the brain from the gut – known as ‘gut-brain miscommunication’. Further studies are required to assess whether this change is temporary or reversible.

New Insights Into Eating Practices

Dr. Czaja says that we must ‘think systematically’ about how our dietary practices affect our health. “All of the components and receptors in our body are interconnected and should work in harmony. There is not a single receptor responsible for huge physiological outcomes.”

The findings provide new insights into the detrimental impact of consuming artificial and processed products instead of natural foods, especially fatty and sugary foods. It also highlights the importance of maintaining brain signalling and gut-brain communication. Disrupting these well-adjusted balances can lead to a confused brain and inadequate satiety feedback, leading to obesity and other diseases.