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Pharmacology Education: Food Addiction
by admin on: February 2nd, 2011

Comfort foods do indeed reduce stress according to the latest studies revealed by Margaret Morris, Professor of Pharmacology, and her PhD student Jayanthi Maniam, from the University of NSW School of Medical Sciences. This is something all food addicts know, but it might help their cause now that scientific experiments have established the fact. Foods that are rich in sugar and fat have the capacity to change the brain’s chemical composition as well as reduce anxiety. The results were shown on rats that displayed the influences of past injury and trauma could be erased by unlimited access to delicious food. The animals were also seen to revert to their non-stressed countenance.

The study involved two groups of baby rats – one group growing with their mother, and the other separated from their mothers for long periods of time. The second group of rats suffered from separation anxiety that lead to trauma and stress. These rats had greater levels of stress hormones in their brains and fewer receptors for steroids in the section of the brain that controls behavior. This trauma eventually vanished when the baby rats were allowed to binge on junk food.

“The control group had no effect from the diet really, but the stressed animals had a deficit … which was restored by the diet. The food seems to affect neurogenesis similar to the way anti-depressants promote nerve growth in the brain,??? reported Professor Morris. She warns that these results might not be applicable to people as such, although they did demonstrate, “the therapeutic value of comfort food.” People who are stressed tend to eat more cakes, chocolates, and sweets rather than fruits, vegetables, and fish. Also, children who have suffered trauma are more prone to be heavy as adults.Dr. Morris cautions that this study was not to be used to endorse the consumption of junk food.

“If you ask people what they eat when they are stressed, they eat more chocolate, cakes, and sweets, and less fish, vegetables, and fruit,” she said. Many other parameters such as exercise, and the pursuit of intellectual and creative activities might have healthier and long-ranging stress-busting benefits compared to eating junk food.

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