The brain’s fussy eater defence makes food look yummier

ghrelin on a shopping spreeBe warned, even broccoli will be appealing if you go shopping on an empty stomach.

Okay, maybe to turn broccoli into something desirable would take a miracle, not just a dose of ghrelin. But as a rule, the body chemistry that drives hunger, makes food in general look far yummier.

A dangerous situation if you’re weight watching.

The hunger hormone

Our gut produces several chemicals which are able to communicate it’s status to the brain. The brain interprets these signals and then responds by either putting a break on our gastronomic desires or winding them up.

There are several chemicals that let the brain know we are running on a full tank, but only one, tells the brain the “cupboard” is bare. Ghrelin is that hunger hormone.

The body’s defence against the fussy eater

A hungry body can escalate to a hungry brain. A hungry brain is not just a rumbling sensation, but a metabolic crises, so the body is wired to make sure the brain is constantly supplied with food.

Fussy eaters pose a threat to brains. Just like mothers, the brain worries about what might happen, if the fuss pot refuses to eat because of a shortage of NICE food. So the brain has taken out a little insurance against fussy eaters. If you are hungry enough – all food starts to look good, thanks to ghrelin.

NOTE : Your child will not actually starve to death ! Ghrelin will turn no go food into something acceptable. once juniour is hungry enough, if your nerves can stand it – just hold your ground.

Yummier food

A dose of ghrelin stimulates the munchies in both fat and thin people. When people are injected with ghrelin and then let loose on a buffet table, they eat far more than when there is no ghrelin.

Researchers from Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University scanned the brain’s of 12 people using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to understand the ghrelin effect better.

Participants in the study didn’t actually get offered REAL food, but as they were wired up, the activity in their brain was recorded when they were shown pictures of food and other things (not food).

Food, glorious food

Looking inside the brain’s of people who had been injected with ghrelin revealed that these people had food on the brain. In addition to the effects on the hypothalamus, the brain’s feeding centre, several other areas of the brain showed spikes in activity.

The food images fired off neurons involved in visual processing allowing them “to see the food better”, quite literally. Ghrelin also helped connect the images with memories, potentially creating feel food feelings. Finally ghrelin also set off activity in areas of the brain associated with feeling good and addiction.

In short, they had food on their mind. And the food looked good.

Food on the mind

When you’ve got food on the brain like that, the odds of succumbing to foody temptations is enormous. In today’s world of plenty, fussy eaters can usually find something to please their palates, so the fussy eater defence tends to pack on the pounds.

Don’t tempt fate – avoid shopping on an empty stomach. You may not be in full control of what is going in the trolley or your mouth.

PS. If you feel you need a little help activating the self control muscle you might find this post useful.

Ghrelin Modulates Brain Activity in Areas that Control Appetitive Behavior. Cell Metabolism, 2008; 7 (5): 400. Saima Malik, Francis McGlone, Diane Bedrossian, Alain Dagher.

Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind your appetite ?

Subcribe to E-spoons, to get e-mail updates once a month to learn how to keep your body chemistry balanced so you don’t end up pigging out.

NOTE : Privacy & spam policy. Spoonful of Science will not rent, trade or sell the e-mail list to anyone. You can unsubscribe at any time by following the unsubscribe link.

Know someone who will find this post useful ? Share it on facebook, linkedin, twitter

Further reading

Sugar low causing aggression hungry for nice things brain counting the calories
Are you more likely to snap if you are  “hungry” ? Why stress makes you feel hungry for nice things Sucralose may taste good on the tongue but it doesn’t quite cut it in the brain

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

balance eicosanoids rein in insulin dial down stress sleep vitamin D microflora think
Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

Hire Dr Sandy from a Spoonful of Science to be the keynote speaker at your next event.

Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below

This entry was posted in Obesity and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] The brain’s fussy eater defence makes food look yummier [...]

  2. By » Blog Archive » Round up 2 Jan – 6 Jan on January 6, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    [...] The brain’s fussy eater defence makes food look yummier [...]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>