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Diet Stress

By Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on April 23, 2007

Individuals typically change their diet in an attempt to improve health and well-being. However, a new study finds that there may be physical and psychological effects from a changed diet that can reduce the chances for success.

In fact, in a mammalian model, the term food addiction is accurate as once mice became accustomed to a high fat or high carb diet they experienced high stress upon a change in diet and, in fact, displayed risky behaviors in an attempt to return to a high fat diet.

As published in the May 1st issue of Biological Psychiatry, researchers found that mice withdrawn from high-fat or high-carbohydrates diets became anxious and showed changes in their brains indicating higher stress levels.

Using a variety of standard measures of mouse behavior, researchers acclimated mice to either high-fat (HF) or high-carbohydrate (HC) diets, abruptly replaced those diets with standard chow, and observed behavioral changes. The brains of the mice were also examined for increases in corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF) levels which can indicate high stress levels.

Writing in the article, Tracy L. Bale, Ph.D., states, “Our behavioral, physiologic, biochemical, and molecular analyses support the hypothesis that preferred diets act as natural rewards and that withdrawal from such a diet can produce a heightened emotional state.”

Once deprived of their preferred diet, mice would overcome their natural aversion to bright environments to obtain the HF foods, even when standard food was available.

The authors continue, “These results strongly support the hypothesis that an elevated emotional state produced after preferred-diet reduction provides sufficient drive to obtain a more preferred food in the face of aversive conditions, despite availability of alternative calories in the safer environment.

Our results may suggest that, similar to the case of an individual who is in withdrawal from a rewarding substance, these mice effectively are displaying risk-taking behavior to obtain a highly desirable substance, supporting the powerful rewarding aspects of the HF food.”

Source: Biological Psychiatry

 

APA Reference
Nauert, R. (2007). Diet Stress. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2007/04/23/diet-stress/774.html

 

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