It's all in good fun?

By now many of us are familiar with the infamous news of the man who suffered a heart attack last week while eating a Triple Bypass Burger at the Heat Attack Grill in Las Vegas. The very sad part is that onlookers thought it was a stunt and were actually taking pictures of the man’s suffering. Thankfully, as of today, he has survived, but this incident brings up the question, “How did we, as a culture, get to this point?” How did we go from my parents’ generation of surviving the Great Depression by eating dandelion greens and growing gardens out of necessity ~ to today’s Heart Attack Grill slogan that touts, “Tastes Worth Dying For,” and having their 575 lb spokesman die last year at the age of twenty nine?  

And it’s not just the Heart Attack Grill, but popular TV reality shows like Man v. Food where the “big food” offerings of different American cities face off against a pre-existing eating challenge at a local restaurant. During one episode, the show’s host and a group of 40 regional eaters attempted to set a Guinness World Record by eating a 190 pound burger in two hours, in which case “food” won the epic battle with about 30 pounds left of the burger. The Travel Channel, which hosts the show, received its highest rating ever when Food v. Man debuted. Reviews claim, “It’s all in good fun.”

Believe it or not, there’s actually a term for all of this called “food porn.” Basically food porn is glamorizing high fat, high calorie foods and exotic dishes that arouse the desire to indulge in and glorify food. There are many high profile restaurants now sprouting up all over the US that are famous for serving extreme, artery-clogging entrees that customers boast about eating as if they accomplished an Olympic feat.        

All of this reminds me of the story of the frog who died in the pot of boiling water. A frog was sitting in a pot filled with tepid water that was placed on top of a stove. One day, someone came along and turned the burner on; and slowly, but surely, the water became warmer. It was such a gradual, incremental increase of temperature that the frog didn’t notice the heat until it was too late and the boiling water killed it.

Have we become so incrementally desensitized by the sensationalism and preoccupation of eating for disease (aka food addiction) that it’s actually celebrated as a victory to achieve such demise? Is it any wonder that a bag of Doritos can now be considered an afternoon snack before a Super Size Big Mac Meal and large Dairy Queen Blizzard?

It’s all in good fun?

What are your thoughts?






image credit:  flickr by Joel Washing

High Fat Foods Can Lead To Brain Scarring

The intimate link between what we eat and the chemistry of our bodies has been demonstrated once again in a provoking new studying published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.1  This study found that high-fat foods, like hamburgers, onion rings, oily pizzas and other regularly consumed fatty foods, actually lead to brain scarring and damage to the hypothalamus- the area of the brain responsible for hunger, thirst and the body’s natural rhythms and cycles.  While the study was done on rodents, its findings remain insightful about what might happen to the human brain when we feed our bodies the unhealthful, high fat diets consumed by most Americans. 

The most prominent finding of the study was that inflammation, or neuron injury, developed in rats and mice just three days after consuming foods fatty meats and refined oils.  Additionally, when the rats remained on this diet long term, permanent damage to the neurons occurred. On the long-term high fat diet, the brain’s attempt to heal the injured neurons resulted in gliosis, a process that leads to scarring in the central nervous system.  The brain’s POMC cells, which play an important role in the body’s fat control system, regulate appetite and prevent excess weight gain, were reduced by over 25 percent.

Given these findings, scientists on the team surmise that losing these critical brain cells is related to why most people who attempt to lose weight by simply reducing calories and exercising more fail to keep the pounds off- they are still consuming high fat American fare that continues to damage the brain’s receptor cells for appetite control and weight gain prevention.

There is much reason to believe that brain damage due to greasy, high fat diets occurs in humans as well as rats.  When examining MRIs of obese and normal weight humans, obese individuals had significantly higher levels of gliosis (brain scarring) that those at healthy weights.  Further studies need to be conducted to determine the connection between brain scarring, brain functioning and weight loss, but it’s safe to say that it’s a good idea to pass on the French fries and cheeseburger. 

It’s also worth noting that fat itself is not bad; it is the type of fat that counts.  The rats in this study were not fed whole food, healthy fats in the form of nuts, seeds and avocadoes, but high fat animal products and fried foods, the deleterious processed types.  As Dr. Fuhrman mentions in detail in his book, Super Immunity, low fat diets can lead to dry skin, thinning hair, muscle cramps, insomnia and poor exercise tolerance among other health problems. 

The moral of this blog post is to avoid processed high fat foods and get enough healthy fats in the form of nuts, seeds, and avocadoes and from supplemental docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to keep your brain healthy and in tip top shape.



1. Baskin DG, Dietrich MO, Fischer JD, et al. Obesity is associated with hypothalamic injury in rodents and humans. J Clin Invest. 2012;122(1):153–162.