I am fascinated by the science of appetite control (because I know it is the holy grail for weight control), and this study really grabbed my attention. In this investigation, Yale scientists learned that when our brains detect a drop in blood glucose (glucose is the only source of fuel for brain cells), several distinct changes take place in critical areas of the brain involved in appetite regulation. These specific brain changes ultimately drive us to eat and make it more difficult to consciously control powerful impulses emanating from the brain’s pleasure centers to seek food.
To perform this study, the investigators manipulated the blood glucose levels of study subjects and simultaneously monitored activity in various regions of their brains using functional MRI scans. When blood glucose levels dropped, strong signals to eat were generated in the reward areas of the brain, while opposing signals from the prefrontal cortex areas of the brain were blunted. These “go eat now” impulses were especially pronounced if the study subjects were shown pictures of high calorie foods. In obese study subjects, this precarious response was notably dramatic. (Journal of Clinical Investigation, October 2011)
The important take-aways from this study are:
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