Sweet food tricks your brain

It makes you think you’re still hungry

By Sandra Roycroft-Davis, founder of Thinking Slimmer

Fifty years ago, food scientists discovered that corn could be turned into high fructose syrup that was 20% sweeter than sugar and a third cheaper. Today it is in everything from ketchup to burger buns, from processed meals to pizza toppings.

Most of all it is used in fizzy drinks like Coke and Pepsi. The problem is that fructose is very efficient at turning into fat with the associated problems of heart and liver disease plus type 2 diabetes.

Worse, fructose plays havoc with the appetite by suppressing the natural hormone leptin, which tells the brain “You’ve had enough, you can stop eating now.” So because your brain’s fuel gauge has been disabled, you keep filling up – with disastrously predictable consequences.

Dr Robert Lustig, of the University of California, explains: “Fructose makes the brain think you’re starving, even when you’ve just eaten.

So now what you have is a vicious cycle of consumption, disease and addiction – which explains what’s happening the world over.” Professor Philip James, chairman of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, says it’s wrong to blame overweight people for their size. “Everyone who says ‘it’s your own fault’ should forget it – the evidence shows it’s the exact contrary.“

Dr Lustig agrees. “Food manufacturers know the sweeter they make it the more you will buy,” he says. At Thinking Slimmer we use unconscious persuasion to retune people’s minds to have a new relationship to food and exercise.

Our 10 minute Slimpod recordings use various neuroscience techniques to alter the brain’s reward system so that the pleasure no longer comes from burgers, chocolate or sugar but from making healthier choices. We are also able to reverse the leptin suppression caused by fructose by sending a “full” signal through their neuro-circuits so they eat less and usually leave a little on their plate.

The power of the mind to mind to affect our bodies in this way has been proved by Dr Tony Goldstone, of the Imperial College Faculty of Medicine. By scanning the brains of people who are being shown photographs of high-calorie food such as chocolate cake or pizza he can see which parts of the brain are being activated.

“High sugar foods activate the brains reward system,” he says. “What food looks like, smells like, tastes like, sounds like and even its crunchiness all influence the brain’s reaction. “These factors combine in the brain to influence whether we reach out and buy something or choose it in the shop or restaurant. This is what the food industry spends a lot of time developing.”

Interestingly, Dr Goldstone has also proved what millions of people suspect and what Thinking Slimmer has always known – that diets don’t work. He has evidence that starving the body (which is what a diet does) creates chemical changes in the brain which produce irresistible cravings for the high-calorie food the body is being denied.



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