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The "right stuff": Can we feed our brain what it needs to stay in balance and … – The Virginian

 


A recent interview by Jennifer Walsh, Live Science correspondent, revealed the following: When dieters starve themselves of calories, they starve their brain cells as well. New research finds that these hungry brain cells then release “feed me” signals, which drive hunger, slow metabolism and may cause diets to fail.(http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43989918/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/t/your-own-brain-thwarts-diet-feed-me-signals/).  At the core of Dr. Singh’s findings is the “starvation” mode the brain goes into when it’s producing the regulation and process of these neurons: Lack of calories = starvation mode. In short, here is the theory: When we starve our bodies (decreased calories) we starve our brain cells. Once the brain begins to feel deprived (starved) certain proteins are released that send our body “feed me” signals to eat, slowing down our metabolism while driving our hunger into full gear. If you’ve ever been hungry, unable to satisfy your appetite, then you most likely understand that sensation. In the case of the research, the mice were created to lack the essential appetite increasing protein(s) found in the brain that created the inability to satisfy their hunger while in starvation mode, resulting in “leaner and healthier” mice.

 

So how does this all work and why are some people prone to produce more of this protein than others?  Scientifically the findings scrutinized nutrition (high fat diets) and how the brain interacts with the proteins, neurons and hormones through “Autophagy”. Autophagy (aka starvation mechanism) is the regulated systematic approach generated through the brain’s hypothalamus, used to break down used cells to recycle and harvest energy while keeping the process going at a continuous steady pace. However, the appetite sensing neurons found in the research increased autophagy, stimulating overeating through the increase of the “feed me” signals. Once the increase occurs, so does the cellular level of “free fatty acids”.  These acids send signals to the brain releasing an appetite inducing protein referred to as AgRP (agouti-related peptide). When the regulation of our AgRP neurons are working properly our body naturally senses the nutrients it needs to satisfy our hunger, telling the brain when it’s time to stop and start eating. However, when the AgRP proteins increase, so will our appetite, in turn producing overeating resulting in the lack of satiety. At present, scientists/researchers are attempting to find ways to interrupt this vicious cycle in an effort to curb appetites and change eating habits. However, from what I have been able to find, their research is driven more toward medical intervention and not nutrition, through blocking autophagy to fight obesity. See article entitled, “Why diets don’t work: Starved Brain Cells Eat Themselves, Study Finds” (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110802125546.htm).  Perhaps the disconnection between the two comes from the understanding of why “dieting” isn’t the goal but “nutrition” is:  “diet” = “starvation” versus “nutrition/diet” = “hormonal balance”.  That’s just my thought but I think its key in “why” medicine alone doesn’t work to correct the problem of obesity.  I highly suspect the research will eventually produce a pill or medical procedure to interrupt the process versus pointing to natural nutrition and proper methods to change the course of action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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