Carbs and Sugar Damage Brain Cells that Regulate Appetite - Study

A scientist at Monash University has discovered that free radicals degenerate brain cells that control appetite – and the damage is worse following ingestion of carbohydrates and sugar, leading to a vicious cycle that only promotes, rather than controlling hunger. Dr Zane Andrews, a neuroendocrinologist with Monash University's Department of Physiology explains, "The more carbs and sugars you eat, the more your appetite-control cells are damaged, and potentially you consume more." The result is weight gain that just gets worse with age, as cellular signals between the brain and appetite hormones become imbalanced.

Normally, a set of neurons, called POMC's tell us we are full. Free radicals attack POMC neurons. Ghrelin hormones, synthesized in the stomach, tell us when our stomach is empty. Disharmony between PMOC neurons and ghrelin hormones tells us we’re hungry when we’re really not, spawning a cycle of overeating from the miscues.

According to Dr. Andrews, “This process causes the neurons to degenerate overtime, affecting our judgment as to when our hunger is satisfied. A diet rich in carbohydrate and sugar that has become more and more prevalent in modern societies over the last 20-30 years has placed so much strain on our bodies that it's leading to premature cell deterioration." The findings might explain the complexity of adult obesity. Dr. Andrews also says people age 25 to 50 are most affected.

Understanding the process that controls appetite and how the body is affected by what we eat should be a motivating factor toward making better dietary choices. Dr. Andrews plans to further explore the impact of diet on the brain, as it might relate to the development of neurological disease such as Parkinson’s disease.

Controlling Free Radicals

Control the ravages of free-radicals in the body. Eat foods rich in anti-oxidants, incorporating two servings into each meal. If you don’t eat three meals a day, provide yourself with snacks that might include carrots or other raw vegetables. Take fruit with you when you go to work, and eat it as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. Five servings a day is still the recommended allotment. When the body has plenty of anti-oxidants, damage from free-radicals can be greatly reduced. Anti-oxidant supplements are not as effective.

Consider a cooking class to learn how foods act synergistically, providing maximum health benefits. For more on food synergy, you may want to read Top 10 Food Synergy Super Foods, from WebMD, and Cook Like Your Life Depends on it.


Related: Brain Plays Key Role in Appetite by Regulating Free Radicals