welcome back to another insightful episode of me Andi Health up I'm your host Anthony Harcher I'm a clinical nutritionist and lifestyle medicine specialist the purpose of this podcast is to enhance and Enlighten your well-being and today I'm going to be doing that just for you we're going to.
Be talking about decoding weight gain and the Neuroscience behind it yes weight gain it's something that I constantly see in my clinic lots of clients wanting to lose weight and wondering why they gain it and so I've decided to dig deep into the literature around the Neuroscience behind it is there something that we have hardwired.
In our brain is it a genetic predisposition to weight gain well it's probably all of the above it's multifactorial as I've seen through the research and there's so many factors incorporated or involved or associated with weight gain there's over well over 108 driving factors behind weight gain and so it's not only just the.
Environment that we live in but it's the wiring within this as well and obviously there's genetic factors that give us a predisposition and a tendency to probably go in waight but at end of the day we have more control over that we can rewire our brain we understand neuroplasticity so yes as as much as it may have been hard wide since you're a.
Kid the associations around food and how great certain foods are and how much how enjoyable they are and in what context you love having them in and how much you desire to have them in those contexts as you get older and so these can become Hub wide within us and we can become very unconscious of our behaviors and they become habits and we just keep.
Doing them and as a result of keep doing these habits that are associated around food we can gain weight and I'm going to be talking about some of these areas of the brain that lit up when they've done studies on people that are obese compared to people that aren't obese and they've given them visual cues such as a chocolate milkshake and certain areas of.
The brain have lit up on the MRIs the magnetic resonance imagery so yes so certainly you show someone a chocolate milkshake what areas of the brain are going to light up well let's start with what we saw in one study was the orbital frontal cortex and you're probably wondering where is that it's the forbrain it's our executive function so.
I'm going to point to the where it is on our bra rain it's our you know the forehead like behind the forehead okay that's the uh prefrontal cortex and a particular area in that prefrontal cortex is the orbital frontal cortex and that area is lit up uh and when truly lit up when has when you see these visy sensory information so they lit up a.
Whole lot more that area of the brain lit up a whole lot more when a chocolate milk shape was showing to people that have carried large amounts of weight or have large amounts of weight and are carrying them around um so what does that era the part of the brain what does it do it's heavily involved with decision- making okay so yes decision-.
Making so whether we're going to drink that chocolate milkshake or whether we're not going to have that chocolate milkshake it's it's very much linked to that and has a strong link to a factory sensory information which is from our nose Okay so the the smells and from our visual area of the brain the visual cortex uh is heavily linked um and.
Associated with this area of the brain so it has the sensory input the smell and the sight and this area of the brain responds accordingly and it makes a decision based on what it sees whether it sees more gain and more Advantage than disadvantage and so what do you think the decision is going to be well it's going to be had the chocolate.
Milkshake and so it's part of that brain it it also provides us some sort of initiative to want to fit in uh so that social connection either so when those areas of the brain are heavily lit up it means that we want to fit in we want to feel that we can relate to others and associate with others and be part of the large group those that area of the brain.
Isn't strongly functioning or it's strongly it functions but it is isn't strongly associated with uh fitting in socially uh so some people can be more comfortable standing out in terms of this area of the brain and its amount of activity around this area of the brain so those that don't carry large amounts of weight this area of the brain's not.
Heavily lit up or not as strongly lit up on the MRIs and so I guess these people can make a you know they don't get as excited over the chocolate milkshake as those that have put on weight now the other area of the brain that is lit up in obese people or people that are carrying large amounts of weight is the.
Hippocampus okay what's the hippocampus um sorry it's not the hippocampus it's actually the hypothalamus okay so I'm just getting a bit carried away there but the um the hippocampus is associated with memories so this is past memories of good times around having food so yes it would get lit up but in terms of this study that.
I'm referring to it's the hypothalamus and the hypothalamus sits below the thalamus the thalamus is where all the sensory information comes in and we filter it right we filter it in the thalamus and the hypothalamus sits below the thalamus and this hypothalamus is there to regulate so it helps us regulate our body it regulates.
Temperature it helps you know keep us in a safe operating temperature um so when we get too hot it will obviously activate areas of the body to help cool us down such as our sweat glands and it will you know helps regulate our respiration heartbeat and all those areas that are important that we have that regulation and it obviously.
Regulates appetite so that's one of the so the hypothalamus regulates appetite and what they found in obese PE people is that this is enlarged okay this is an enlarged part and they're thinking okay is it inflammation and that and and what they've found is yes it's it's inflamed this part of the brain the hypothalamus is inflamed in obese people so people.
Carrying weight this part is inflamed and they've also found strong correlations between a high saturated fat diet and a inflamed or a enlarged hypothalamus so it goes we don't know what leads the other where it you know does the person have a enlarged hypothalamus that then leads to that you know them not having the ability to.
Regulate what they eat um as well or as efficient as others and so therefore they eat more saturated Foods or is it the fact that because they eat more saturated Foods so it's sort of that chicken in the egg which one came first we don't know okay so that's another area of the brain the hypothalamus the orbital frontal cortex is two areas of.
The brain that get lit up and obviously you know when I mentioned the hippocampus then it would bring up past experiences uh so when we see this chocolate milkshake then if we have strong associations with past experiences of having a chocolate milkshake in a good setting and Good Times associated with that chocolate.
Milkshake then obviously it would retrieve memories from the hippocampus so yes it you know our brain is linked and what they found is in another study that there was a strong uh Association linkage between the basil electric frequency so that's our inic nervous system it's the nervous system that is around the gastrointestinal tract okay.
So yes we have a a second brain you've you've sometimes heard of that gut brain that's the inic nervous system and this in nervous system contains anywhere between 200 and 600 million neurons um and it's yeah it's its own brain it it takes in uh sensory input and gives out motor output um motor function so this GLE the gastric the gastric basil.
Electric frequency is strongly linked to brain activity so obviously uh people with obesity have a strong connection between the second brain the gut brain and their brain okay and what what they found is that less ability in the brain to go up and have multimodality connections or associations so as we go up in our brain.
We've got more associations more linkages more Pathways and more things that we can take into consideration before making a decision okay what they found was in this study was the strong correlation between the gut brain and brain activity lower level brain activ like lower down in the brain so that's the round the midbrain um it doesn't go.
Much up to the prefrontal cortex uh in terms of what they found in their study so therefore there's less Pathways that you think okay I know that eating this food has this negative Health consequence you're not sort of doing that assessment it's probably more that desire to want it and not to think too much about it that it drives so yeah.
There they're the sort of three studies that I dug up in terms of decod ing weight gain and what areas of the brain are strongly correlated or associated with gain of weight so what can we do about it you're probably wondering at this moment I've shared all this Theory and the latest you know research and what parts of the brain light up well.
Yes we can we have the ability to rewire our brain we have this neuroplasticity which we can we can break down old wiring and we can create new wiring through uh neurons so associating neurons having new associations get them to fire together they wire together and the more we get them to fire together wire together the.
Stronger the wiring the more hard the wiring so obviously with people that have this strong propensity to gain weights they have a strong linkage strong hardwiring between food and the benefits it brings them and another study showed that people with obesity or have you know carrying large amounts of weight also need more.
Food to get the same feeling or the same outcome as to having that like so when we eat food we get a boost of Serotonin and dopamine and so what happens is the more food we eat we our body desensitizes the effect of it because it wants to keep you alive and surviving and so it's it's thinking well um I don't want to have have too much strong.
Hard wiring and too much positive Desiring towards this because we need to keep you alert to other things and do other functions and uh keep you alive and so you're going to have to have more of that in order to get the same hit because it it was it turns it into white noise so to speak so it turns that uh Buzz that you used to get you need more.
Of it in order to get that buzz so it's like with anything so same with drugs so when you're taking drug drugs you will need more and more of that drug because the body gets better at breaking it down it produces the enzymes that break it down to get excessive quantities out of the body and also with our cells they become more and more uh desensitized.
They don't become as strongly activated by that and same with the neurons um so the neurons require more of the uh input or uh linkage to that food the the more of the food you have the I guess you're going to need more serotonin and dopamine in order to get the same hit as what you originally got so that essentially our body is desensitizing.
Becoming more and more desensitized the more and more of things we have common things so the more you know it's probably you know it's the same as exercise obviously to get the same hit with exercise to get that same high you need to keep exercising more and more okay it's h in order to get that that that same elevated height.
So there's that desensitizing effect and that also causes people that like food and have strong associations with food to eat more of it in order to get the same hit or the same feeling as before so what can we do about it we can we wire the brain how how do we start out about that well it's working out what benefits you are getting from eating.
Particular Foods uh in this case it's probably highly calorific Foods so you might have a propensity to eat highly fatty foods or highly sugary foods and so you've got this hard wiring to I want to eat more or more of that because of the positive associations you have with eating that food so what you want to start listing down is what of all the.
The benefits you get from eating that food what you know what does it bring to you you know how is it serving you because there's obviously benefits there's there's more Pros than cons hence why you keep doing it and it's become such this automated Behavior but you keep doing it because it brings benefit to you it makes you feel better.
It gives you a sense of a way of managing stress could be one of the things one of the benefits so list down all the benefits of what it brings you in terms of eating those foods and then what you want to do is then look at other ways you can get those benefits so how else could you get that serotonin that dopamine feeling or uplifting how.
Else could you uplift yourself how how else could you bring that what what else brings you fulfillment what else brings you that inner sense of Joy what else does that for you so start thinking about the other things that can bring you that sense of fulfillment in terms of what the food is doing such as the saturated fats or the highly sugary.
Foods so what else can bring you those other than Foods what else can bring you that it might might be connection with friends it could be exercise it could be playing a you know a particular sport game or doing a particular hobby whatever it is start listing out the things that can give you the same benefit but it's doing something else so.
I get you know Joy from doing these podcasts okay it brings you know fulfillment within what else brings that fulfillment within going for a walk in nature is another way in which I can get that fulfillment what else brings that fulfillment hanging out with you know playing with my children or spending time with my children.
Or my partner my wife Adriana so how else can you get this fulfillment so that's what you want to think about and list those that you know the other ways you can get the Fulfillment okay so we're now creating an alternative to the current hardwiring pathway of eating and then how that new way is going to further enhance the outcomes that you.
Are seeking in relation to health so that alternate way so that alternate way of getting that fulfillment how is that going to provide a stronger benefit so look for all the benefits it's going to provide uh in addition to that feeling of fulfillment so it's going to bring you health benefits and what is the health benefits going to bring you it.
Will being healthier will bring you more energy it will you won't feel as tired you'll be able to do more you'll be able to do more of the things you love doing you'll be able to spend time quality time without being tied you you know around people that you want to hang out with you'll be able to you'll have more time at the end of the day or more.
Energy at the end of the day in order to do your hobbies so start listing all the primary benefits associated with you adopting this new habit that brings the same fulfillment as eating and start stacking them up start stacking up those associations and then what are the secondary benefits of that okay so if I'm spending more time with my friends.
Because I have more energy and I'm developing a deeper connection with them how else is that helping me how else is that providing further fulfillment you know I get to know them we get to spend more time together and how else does that help you fulfill what's important to you so there's that element that you get to talk about your.
Day you get to be uh you get to relate to someone someone else can relate to what you're going through uh what else what are the other benefits so there's a mental health benefit associated with this additional connection is that you feel connected it gives you a sense of uh further connection it starts uplifting you because you're spending.
Time with someone else and you H get energized from this and that additional energy what can that bring you now so what else can that what you know what's another benefit of now the benefit of the mental health so it means that you will be stronger more resilient and how is that serving you in terms of being more resilient more adaptable well you.
Can you're more adaptable to stress so that yeah so you start looking at all these additional first start with the primary benefits of this new Behavior then go to the secondary benefits of this new behavior and how it serves the areas that are important to you so if your mental health is improved and you're more resilient then how does and.
You value your family then how does that flow on your family well you're going to be more upbeat and more positive and you'll be happier and you'll bring that energy into your relationships within the family Dynamic so the family Dynamic will improve you'll develop stronger bonds within the family better connection within the family and then.
How does that benefit your health okay and then you know so start linking St so what you're doing is finding all these additional associations beneficiary associations to adopting this new behavior that brings fulfillment that's not eating that's not eating the saturated fats or sugar so you want to start stacking them up and what you're.
Doing is creating more neural Pathways and lighting them up in your brain and the more associations you find the more Pathways you're lighting up and the more you can visualize how this is going to better serve you and what's important to you and bring equal fulfillment then you start to and then you start acting on that you start doing these new behaviors.
Then the older Pathways will start to untangle they they'll start to unwrap they'll start to dissolve and you'll start to adopt these newer habits and how you can FastTrack that is then look at the old habit and look at how it doesn't serve you what are the disadvantages of the old habit and continuing doing the old habit what are.
The disadvantages and start stacking up the disadvantages of the the old habit and so you've got this new habit that you're going to go on and inact and apply and start hardwiring that pathway and at the same time you're stacking up the disadvantages or the negative associations with the old habits so eating those saturated foods and how.
It's not serving what's important to you and so you start stacking them up to a point where you think no I really don't want to get that fulfillment by the old pathway I want to get the Fulfillment in this new new pathway that's going to have that has more associations to what I value to what's important to me and it's going to bring me more overall.
Fulfillment than going down that old that old hardwiring pathway and and what the brain does is start to untangle that it starts to unlink that and and eventually that habit will be broken and the more you start enacting these new habits and so after this so after doing all this visual Association of How It's benefiting you these new habits what you.
Want to do is then start putting down the action steps you're going to take in order to start acting out these new and start you know further adding more hard wiring to these new ways of getting that fulfillment so start putting down your to-do list as to what you're going to do and then what you want to do is uh start thinking about where is it that you.
Typically trip up and then start having ways in which you can say okay that's a visual cue to enact the new pathway okay once I once I get this sort of Link then okay I'm GNA jump on and do this so I see that chocolate milkshake okay I don't want to do that what I'm going to do is I'm going to go and play with my children instead and and then that's the.
Cue is the V the the milkshake is now a cue to go and play with your children as opposed to drinking the milkshake so I hope that helps in terms of um decoding weight gain and you know explaining the Neuroscience behind it and how you can rewire your brain and if you need help with this please you know reach out to me Anthony me andyw wellness.com.
My link will be in their show notes so please reach out to me go to the show notes if you want some further help in this area in terms of re reprogramming your brain and until next time take care and continue to tune in and health up podcast disclaimer this podcast and any.
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