Dieting IS mind over matter: The size of regions of your brain determine whether or not you can stick to healthy foods
- Researchers from France and California looked at two regions at the front of the brain
- One has a role in evaluating rewards and the other plays a role in decision making
- Dieters often believe that your success is all a matter of willpower and dedication
- The team found that those who had greater volume in these two regions were more likely to pick healthier food options
Differences in how your brain is structured could affect your ability to succeed on a diet, a new study has revealed.
When two areas at the front of the brain are larger in volume, you are more likely to pick healthier foods.
But when they are smaller, you are more likely to go for higher-calorie options, according to the researchers who hail from various institutions including the Sorbonne in Paris and the California Institute of Technology.
Dieters often believe that success is all a matter of your willpower and dedication.
However, the scientists say this is new evidence that – no matter how hard you try – it is actually the size of your brain that determine what food choices you make.
Differences in how your brain is structured could affect your ability to succeed on a diet, a new study has revealed
The researchers looked at data from four different studies that examined two ways that people select food options.
The first method involved participants making their dietary choices based on tastiness, healthiness, or making food choices as they normally would.
The second method had participants try to distance themselves from foods they crave that are high in calories.
All of the study members – 78 women and 45 men between the two – also underwent MRI scans.
After analyzing the scans, the researchers found that those who had greater volume in two regions at the front of the brain – the dorsolateral and ventromedial prefrontal cortex – had more self-control and made healthier food choices.
The role of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex centers around cognitive skills that include working memory , attention and evaluating rewards.
Meanwhile, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex plays a role in the ability to control emotions and in the decision making process.
The paper, which was published in JNeurosci, is among the first to suggest that these size markers play an important role in how we make decisions when it comes to health.
The team noted that brain structure can change over time due to a person’s lifestyle – meaning that what you eat can directly alter your brain formation and how it functions.
Studies have shown when the body is deprived of good quality nutrition that fights against free radicals – or molecules that inflame cells – brain tissue is more easily damaged.
The researchers hope that further dietary interventions that focus on promoting healthy food choices will include looking at these two brain regions.
The new research builds on a recent study that found healthier diets were associated with larger brain tissue volume.
Conducted at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the study found that overall better diet quality was related to larger total brain volume, grey matter, white matter, and hippocampal volume.
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