Many research studies have explored how unhealthy diets are related to a spike in obesity levels. However, not many of them have explored the neurological changes caused by diets in the human brain. A Yale University study has found that diets, which are rich in fats, can cause irregularities and troubles in the brain’s hypothalamus region, which is responsible for regulating body metabolism and weight homeostasis.
Sabrina Diano led this study, which evaluated the relationship between the continued consumption of diets rich in fats – specifically those diets that are rich in carbohydrates and fats – and the stimulation of hypothalamic inflammation, which is a physiological bodily response to malnutrition and obesity.
These researchers also discovered that inflammation starts occurring the brain’s hypothalamus region within 3 days of consumption of high-fat diets, which is way before the human body even begins to show obesity symptoms. Diano stated that her team was intrigued that fast changes could occur in the brain before any weight changes occurred. They wished to study underlying cellular mechanisms that were responsible for this.
These researchers discovered that hypothalamic inflammation, which was seen in several animals on high-fat diets, could produce physical structure changes in the animals’ microglial cells. These cells also happen to defend the CNS and aid it in regulating the body’s inflammation levels. Diano’s team discovered that microglia activation was a result of changes in the mitochondria, which are organelles responsible for helping the human body obtain energy from consumed food substances.
When animals were on high-fat diets, there was a sizeable diminishment in the size of the mitochondria. UCP2, a protein was responsible for triggering this size change. It is responsible for regulating energy utilization procedures in the mitochondria and affecting its control of glucose homeostasis and energy. Removal of this protein from the microglia caused high-fat diet animals to consume less and resist weight gains.