Healthy Food Choices Start in the Brain
Summary: A recent study found a new attribute that may explain why some people are more successful in choosing healthier, whole food options than others.
Although most of us are striving to eat a well-balanced diet, our individual food choices differ significantly. Differences in diet are influenced by various factors, such as socioeconomic status, culture, and individual health needs. However, a recent study found a new attribute that may explain why some people are more successful in choosing healthier, whole food options than others.
By analyzing previously obtained MRI and neuroimaging data, researchers found that the amount of gray matter a person has in certain spots within the prefrontal cortex, called the ventromedial and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, predicted that individual’s success in choosing whole foods over their cravings. The more gray matter that was exhibited in these specific regions of the brain, the higher the person’s ability to make better food choices.1
Gray matter is the part of the brain that is dense with neuronal cells and is involved with memory, sensory processing, emotion, and decision-making. The prefrontal cortex is a region of the brain located in the frontal lobe that is involved in complex processes like personality and behavior as well as decision-making. Since our diet is simply a series of decisions, the results of this study support what is currently understood about the brain and behavior. Choosing whole foods more often and processed foods less frequently is crucial for a healthy diet, and this finding sheds some light on why people differ dramatically in their ability to make these choices on a regular basis.
This study marks an important milestone in neuroscience and health because it correlates the behavior of food selection with anatomical differences in specific regions in the brain. Due to the brain’s plasticity, research like this provides potential targets for future therapies and behaviors that could change the structure of the brain over time to facilitate healthier decisions about food.
Lipids comprise more than 60 percent of the brain’s dry mass. Omega-3’s like Docosahexanoic acid (DHA) make up more than 30 percent of gray matter within the human brain. As scientists continue health and nutrition research, don’t forget to take your doTERRA Lifelong Vitality Pack® supplements, including xEO Mega® Essential Oil Omega Complex, which is packed with Omega-3s, to fill in any possible nutrient gaps in your diet.