We all know by now that we should be eating healthier. However, obesity rates actually increased in six U.S. states last year. The good news is that a study published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes shows that you it is possible to train your brain to crave healthier foods.

Research has already demonstrated that sugary foods can alter your brain and make you desire unhealthy foods. In fact, people who eat too many high-calorie foods have altered senses of taste and smell, studies have shown.

To find out if these same brain circuits changed by sugary foods could be reset to desire healthy foods, researchers at Tufts University and the Massachusetts General Hospital followed a group of people participating in a weight-loss program designed by scientists at Tufts, as well as a control group. They performed MRIs on study participants at the beginning of the study and then six months later, after following the diet.

At the end of the program, researchers found that the brain circuits of the group of dieters showed significant changes, particularly in the areas that control addiction and reward.

According to study co-author Sai Krupa Das, PhD, “The weight-loss program is specifically designed to change how people react to different foods, and our study shows those who participated in it had an increased desire for healthier foods along with a decreased preference for unhealthy foods, the combined effects of which are probably critical for sustainable weight control.”

For the first time, we can see brains actually being reprogrammed to desire different foods and alleviate unhealthy cravings, and the internal, chemical rewards for such cravings.

“To the best of our knowledge this is the first demonstration of this important switch,” Krupa Das added.

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