Epigenetics And Dr Van Tulleken

In a recent BBC documentary, Dr Chris van Tulleken ate an 80% processed food diet for a month.

He reported symptoms of headaches, constipation and a lack of satiety, unsurprisingly.

He did MRI brain-scans and blood tests which showed new neuronal connections in his brain which were similar to those of people with addictions linking the “reward centers of the brain with those of repetitive automatic behaviour“.

He also reported a 30% increase in his hunger hormone (ghrelin) and a 30% decrease in his satiety hormone (leptin).

These changes persisted for “more than six weeks“.

What that says to me is that there were a host of epigenetic changes in his brain. There were changes to cause the new neuronal connections between different areas of the brain, and changes that resulted in upregulation of at least one hormone and down regulation of another.

The scary thing for Chris, is not knowing when those changes will be reversed, if ever.

He had children present on the documentary. Would any of those epigenetic modifications now be present in his germ cells? Would those changes be passed on to any future children? These are unanswered questions as far as I’m aware, but they are incredibly important when you consider that many children, whose brains and bodies are undergoing rapid changes, are eating a diet high in processed foods. Will they be more prone to addiction in later life? Will their children?

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