How obesity disrupts you mentally

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October 10th is the World Health Organization’s “World Mental Health Day”. Mental Health can be affected in many ways, and can have many different results on everyday living. For instance, have you ever thought about how some packaged foods can stay fresh until their ‘best before’ date? The reason they can is through the use of chemicals.

Through Stem-cell testing, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center recently studied three specific and common food and household chemicals that are known as “endocrine disruptors’, or chemicals that directly affect the signals sent to the brain from the digestive system by interrupting those signals.

The three chemicals studied were specifically chosen due to their abundant presence in our everyday lives:

  • BHT (Butylhydroxytoluene) is used to preserve nutrients and fats in food;
  • PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) is found in carpets and cookware;
  • TBT (Tributyltin) is found in paint and can infect seafood when it ends up in the water supply.

Stem-cells were used to produce hormone-producing tissues, and then these tissues were exposed to these three chemicals, to see if the signals from these tissues to the brain would be interrupted.  This type of signal disruption could contribute to obesity in humans.

Another element of the study used stem-cells to grow tissue similar to the tissue in the lining of the human gut and to the cells in the brain’s hypothalamus, which controls appetite and metabolism. In this test, the three chemicals were exposed to the tissues both individually and together. It was found that these chemicals neutralized the signalling hormones and also damaged mitochondria. Mitochondria are responsible for the conversion of sugars, fats and proteins eaten into forms of chemical energy that the body can use. Thus these chemicals can directly affect metabolism.

The leader of this study, Dhruv Sareen, assistant professor of Biomedical Science at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Director of the Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Core at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute, said of the overall study, “We discovered that each of these chemicals damaged hormones that communicate between the gut and the brain. When we tested the three together, the combined stress was more robust.”

This study is more evidence that you should be vigilant about decreasing the amount of preservative-laden processed food you eat, and always choose fresh foods whenever possible. Your mental health is at stake and your brain will thank you for it!


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