If you ascribe to a natural lifestyle, it probably isn’t shocking to hear that what you eat not only affects how you look, but also your brain and how you think. Researchers recently found just how true this is after analyzing the brains of obese patients, concluding that being overweight or obese could actually have detrimental effects on your ability to make decisions and control impulses. In other words, obesity could really be dumbing you down.
According to CNN, the research was presented at the Neuroscience 2012 conference. Using MRI technology to analyze the brains of 29 adults, researchers showed the participants words printed in various colors on a screen and asked them to identify the color used on each word. For instance, if the color was “purple” but it was printed in red, the participant would have to answer, “red”.
Some of the questions were simple, with the color actually matching the word. But, when the questions were more difficult, overweight and obese participants showed more brain activity—they had to think harder about it.
Timothy Verstynene, the lead researchers, said the results suggest those that are obese may have a more difficult time making complex decisions, and these decisions are crucial in controlling impulse behavior. Can you name one thing that may be controlled by impulsivity that could affect an obese person? Yes, overeating. This impulsivity could lead them to overeat, which could lead them to gain more weight, and so on and so forth.
This isn’t the first such study to link obesity with brain function. In 2006, researchers in France found that obesity is linked to a lower IQ. They gave more than 2,000 people a vocabulary test, and then retested them five years later. Of those with a healthy body mass index (BMI), 56 percent could remember the words after the five year period. Of those with BMIs at an obese level (30 or more), only 44 percent could remember the words.
Of course, the research merely reveals a possible link, rather than a clear cause and effect.
Our bodies are complete systems. The mind is not separate from the body, nor is the mental health separate from the physical health. Everything you eat affects this entire system, along with your kin. Our bodies were designed to eat natural foods, as we have been doing for all of time. To assume we can switch to eating high calorie, processed, and nutritionally empty garbage without horrible effects at every level of health would be a bit… unreasonable.