Indigestion, cavities, diabetes, heart disease… no doubt you know why you shouldn’t be eating heaps of junk food. Now, there’s another reason to steer clear of the vending machine: Junk food can actually harm your brain. In fact, scientists have learned over the past ten-plus years that a diet high in fat can impede your brain’s ability to form new cells — and that can affect your mental processing.
If that information makes you worry about your less-than-perfect diet, take heart. Fascinating research published in the British Journal of Nutrition by a team of researchers at the University of Liverpool suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may help slow the damage junk food can wreak on the brain.*[i]
For this review, researchers analyzed data from 185 studies (185!) about diet. They were looking for evidence that omega-3 fatty acids could help people lose weight and counter the negative effects of sugar and saturated fat. Their conclusion was that omega-3s do help, although the effect is not direct.*
You see, refined sugar and saturated fats block the brain’s capacity to regulate food intake. Since omega-3s stimulate areas of the brain that regulate hunger, learning, and memory, they help negate junk food’s ability to hijack the brain.*
Dr. Lucy Pikavance, one of the researchers, commented, “Fish oils don’t appear to have a direct impact on weight loss, but they may take the brakes off the detrimental effects of some of the processes triggered in the brain by high-fat diet.” She went on to say that “…including more oily fish or fish oil supplements in our diets could certainly be a positive step forward for those wanting to improve their general health.”[ii]
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can rush to the nearest convenience store and stock up on all the candy bars and chips you can eat, as long as you take an omega-3 supplement first. But it’s nice to have an insurance policy for the times you do indulge in a naughty treat.
* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease.
[i] Yon MA, Mauger SL, Pickavance LC. Br J Nutr. 2013 May;109(9):1573-89.
[ii] University of Liverpool. ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, May 14, 2013. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130514101455.htm