Have you ever wondered why people who are already obese continue to gain weight? Is it laziness, a lack of desire to lose weight, or something else? Two new studies that have been published by the Journal of Clinical Investigation shows that it might be something else: their hypothalamus works differently.
The hypothalamus part of the brain controls how often we feel hungry or thirsty, in addition to controlling our need for sleep and our body temperatures. This means that when the hypothalamus is not working properly, someone might still feel hungry even if he or she has already eaten a lot of food.
In one of the studies, it was found that neurons that surround the hypothalamus of obese humans and obese rats are often damaged by inflammation. This inflammation could be caused by high-fat diets, which are notorious for causing inflammation throughout the body. Although it takes weeks or months for inflammation from high-fat diets to occur in other parts, it only takes a few hours for the same thing to happen in the brain.
The other study found that mice that ate a high-fat diet were slower to replace the old, non-functioning neurons. This could also hamper the hypothalamus’ ability to regulate hunger and other bodily functions.
These studies provide some very interesting information about how what we eat affects how our brain works. Also, the fact that these changes can be seen in less than 24 hours makes it apparent that we should avoid high-fat foods in our daily diets, for the sake of our waistlines and our brains.
January 6th, 2012