Scientists Believe They Can Rewire Your Brain to Like Healthy Foods

How would your brain respond to seeing an image of grilled chicken? How about a plate of french fries? It turns out lean and overweight women's brains respond very differently to healthy and unhealthy foods.

If you're having trouble avoiding junk food, just rewire your brain. Easy, right? Researchers say it's all about control and finding a healthy taste to curb away from unhealthy habits.


Robert Boos from Living on Earth sat down with researchers that have made headway in the field of food temptation. Susan Roberts, a co-author of the study, and her team of researchers published their findings on cognitive restructuring in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes, which says that people can, indeed, rewire their brains to respond to differently to certain foods. The researchers weren't able to provide a sure-fire way to restructure the brain's priorities, but they did find some interesting results when they put overweight and lean women through an MRI machine.

The study compared the brain patterns of 50 women in total (31 of them were lean and 19 were overweight or obese). Researchers placed the participants in an MRI machine and watched how their brains responded when shown images of healthy food and junk food. Their brain patterns couldn't have been more different. Researchers reported that lean women's brains responded to protein and fiber-rich foods and were unresponsive while viewing fatty foods. Whereas the obese women had the opposite results.

What's more the higher the overweight women's BMIs, the more their brains responded to the unhealthy images of food. With brain activity levels that approached what scientists normally see from drug addicts. 

These results don't mean that lean people are immune to unhealthy habits. Roberts explained to Boos:

“You could definitely backslide. I mean, the power of this approach is that people say they're less tempted, and so they're less likely to stop for that doughnut.”

As for how to go about getting to this state of mind. Roberts offered a vague explanation: 

“One of the ways we get rid of the cravings is that we give people a taste they like, but the composition is about a composition for control and cravings."

Read more at Living on Earth

Photo Credit: Rennett Stowe/Flickr

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Caplan & Horowitz/arXiv

Diagrams illustrating the different types of so-called nuclear pasta.

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