Every day brings about new challenges in life which each of us face with great determination. Why do we need to complicate our lives even more by bringing upon problems to our health as well in terms of increased risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other health problems due to increase in weight? There are even research studies showing that Alzheimer’s might also be the outcome of increased obesity rates and sedentary lifestyle. Our food habits and eating practices have taken a 360-degree turn for the worse. We might call our diets modern but the foods that we eat now are capable of packing the entire calorie content of a full meal into a small volume-for instance, a giant soda or a brownie might look small in size but the calorie content is extremely high. Eating a single portion of such foods can shoot up total calorie intake leading toe excess weight gain and higher obesity risk-which in turn lands the person in innumerable health problems in life.
Our diet trends have taken a giant leap for the worse in the last couple of decades-we have got 24-hour coffee shops offering cream-filled cappuccino, burgers and fries and processed foods available anytime during the day or night-all of these foods are ridiculously high in sugar, fats and sodium which not only increase calories consumed but also affects your health. How do we differentiate between tasty and bland foods? Why does our brain always choose high-calorie foods? Taste buds in our tongue are one reason. But how is it that even 5-year-old kids love the smell of noodles and drool over French fries? Brain centres that control the desire to eat substantially also influence our food consumption and the dopamine reward system is one such brain centre-for instance, you feel full after eating a meal outside but still crave for an ice cream for dessert because of the dopamine reward system. The desire to eat overrides the need to eat thus contributing towards obesity.
A new study on the pleasure centres in the brain shows that these centres that produce dopamine and the brain’s biological clock that regulate daily physiological rhythm are linked and that high-calorie foods (that trigger pleasure) obstruct regular feeding schedules resulting in overconsumption. The research was done on a group of mice-the group that was fed a diet comparable to a wild diet in calories maintained normal weight and exercise schedules. But those mice that were fed a high-calorie diet full of fats and sugar snacked at all hours and became obese. Also, another set of mice that had their dopamine signalling disrupted (knockout mice) did not seek the pleasure of the high-fat diet despite being presented with high-calorie foods all through the day. The dopamine signalling in the body regulates circadian biology increasing the consumption of energy-dense foods between meals. Mankind started life as hunter-gatherers seeking food, shelter and protecting themselves from animals eating food whenever available storing all the energy they could. But now food is readily available anytime and anywhere. Also, our body that was used to regular day-night schedules nowadays no more follows appropriate sleep, work or meal timings due to difference in job requirements that alter our metabolism. All of this affect our intake levels and weight changes greatly. Read more about circadian rhythm and its effects on our body health by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.