The fasting-style diet seems to result in changes to the human brain

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“The observed changes in the gut microbiome and in the activity in addiction-related brain regions during and after weight loss are highly dynamic and coupled over time.”
Right now it’s not clear what causes these changes, or whether the gut is influencing the brain or vice versa.
However, we do know that the gut and the brain are closely linked, so treating certain regions of the brain could be a way to control food intake.
The changes in brain activity, spotted via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, were in regions known to be important in the regulation of appetite and addiction – including the inferior frontal orbital gyrus.
What’s more, the gut microbiome changes, analyzed via stool samples and blood measurements, were linked to particular brain regions.
“The gut microbiome is thought to communicate with the brain in a complex, two-directional way,” said medical scientist Xiaoning Wang from the State Clinic Center for Geriatrics in China.
In return the brain controls eating behavior, while nutrients from our diet change the composition of the gut microbiome.”
“What specific gut microbiome and brain regions are critical for successful weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight?”

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Researchers attempting to address the persistent obesity epidemic have made a crucial finding: calorie restriction that occurs intermittently alters the gut and the brain in notable ways that may provide new avenues for sustaining a healthy weight.

25 obese volunteers were studied by Chinese researchers for 62 days while they participated in an intermittent energy restriction (IER) program, which entails careful calorie restriction and partial fasting on certain days.

The study participants lost an average of 7.6 kg (16.8 pounds), or 7.8% of their body weight, in addition to changing the composition of their gut flora and the activity of brain regions linked to obesity.

“We demonstrate that an IER diet alters the human brain-gut-microbiome axis here,” health researcher Qiang Zeng of China’s National Clinical Research Center for Geriatric Diseases and Second Medical Center said upon the results’ publication in December 2023.

“During and after weight loss, there are noticeable alterations in the gut microbiome and in the activity in brain regions linked to addiction that are very dynamic and coupled over time. “.”.

Whether the gut is influencing the brain or the brain is influencing the gut is still unknown. Yet, given the strong connections between the gut and the brain, targeting specific brain areas may be an effective strategy for regulating food consumption.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans revealed changes in brain activity in areas of the brain known to be crucial for the control of addiction and appetite, such as the inferior frontal orbital gyrus.

Furthermore, specific brain regions were linked to changes in the gut microbiome, which were assessed using blood measurements and stool samples.

In the case of Eubacterium hallii and Coprococcus comes, for instance, there was a negative correlation found with activity in the left inferior frontal orbital gyrus, an area related to executive function that includes our ability to control our appetite.

According to medical scientist Xiaoning Wang of the State Clinic Center for Geriatrics in China, “the gut microbiome is thought to communicate with the brain in a complex, two-directional way.”.

“Neurotransmitters and neurotoxins produced by the microbiome enter the brain through blood vessels and nerves. In exchange, the gut microbiome’s composition is altered by nutrients from our diet, and the brain regulates eating behavior. “.”.

It is estimated that over a billion people globally are obese, which raises the risk for a wide range of illnesses, including heart disease and cancer. Gaining more understanding of the connections between our gut and brain could be extremely beneficial in preventing and treating obesity.

“We need to determine the exact process by which the brain and gut microbiota interact in obese individuals, even when they are trying to lose weight,” stated Chinese Academy of Sciences biomedical scientist Liming Wang.

What particular brain areas and gut microbiome are essential for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight during weight loss?

The study’s publication can be found in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology.

This article was originally published in December 2023.

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