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How your Brain makes you Snack and a Potential Cure in the Future

By Shannon Pierce

As soon as you go on a diet or try to cut back on the sugars, or the fat, or the carbs, your body or your brain goes into starvation mode. You find yourself snacking before dinner, after dinner, and even late at night to get rid of that unpleasant feeling of hunger. How does the vending machine all of the sudden seem so appealing? How does the crunchy salty goodness of a chip at midnight seem so enticing? It may be your brain’s fault. 

Snacking, particularly unhealthy snacking, is a leading contributor to the fact that two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.

After studying mice, researchers found a unique system in our brains that make us want to have a snack. The findings in the mice may provide us important hints as to why people are overeating. 

Anytime you feel hunger or thirst, you want that sensation to end, but why do people eat when they are not hungry?

The Nature Journal reports researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus found that mice have the ability to shut off the annoying signal in their brains telling them to eat by doing one of three things. These include eating, seeing food, or visiting a place where they have found food in the past.  A similar solution was found for thirst as well.

The crucial question is, how do you turn those neurons that activate human hunger off?

In the journal of Nature Neuroscience, Dr. Bradford Lowell reports that “therapeutic targeting” of certain cells may help to reduce eating and feelings of hunger.  It could even lead to an effective treatment for obesity. Hooray!

Now, while the studies are being done on mice currently, these studies indicate that there may be a possible drug to target the same cells in humans in the future.

In the meantime, or until a magical drug is created to help us lose weight, here are a few ways to control snacking.

1 ) Remember that a snack is a snack, not a small meal. Try to keep them at about 200 calories max. 

2 ) Make them high in protein. A hard boiled egg, beef jerky, or mixed nuts are great options.

3 ) Now that you have read this article, think of your brain.  Ask yourself, am I really hungry or am I bored? A quick visit to a co-workers desk or a chore at home can distract you.

 

 


 Click on these hashtags to find similar articles.

#hunger #snacking #mice #brain #snack #brains #thirst #cells #journal 
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