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Craving pizza or chocolate? Blame your brain!

by , 17 April 2018
Craving pizza or chocolate? Blame your brain!
Do you often feel like gobbling things like pizza or chocolate when you're stressed or under pressure? Don't feel bad - it might not be your fault!

A study published online in the journal Cell Reports has isolated the neurons that drive a craving for carbs and found that your brain may be to blame when the carb cravings strike. Read on for more.

Japanese researchers find that your brain may be to blame when you’re craving carbs…

The study was conducted by a team of researchers at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan. They found that activating neurons known to respond to social stress increased the appetite for carbs in mice.
Mice with the neurons activated ate high-carb food at a rate of three times the rodents under normal conditions. They also roughly halved their intake of high-fat food, the team noted.

This study is the first to demonstrate the role that the brain plays in the preference for carbs or fats, said study leader Yasuhiko Minokoshi, who’s a scientist at the institute. The team concluded that their findings could help find a way to shift people away from gorging on sugary treats or unhealthy junk food.

We usually select what to eat based on taste, but the exact mechanism has remained a mystery

Many researchers speculate that a specific mechanism could be responsible for prompting some animals to choose high-protein food, however, a definitive process hasn’t yet been discovered.
“Many people who eat sweets too much when stressed tend to blame themselves for being unable to control their impulses,” said Minokoshi. “But, if they know it’s because of the neurons, they might not be so hard on themselves,” he added.
Minokoshi cautioned that it would be a challenge to immediately apply the findings of the study to improving human diets. The neurons play a number of other important roles, so simply suppressing them could trigger side effects.
“However, if we could find a particular molecule in the neurons and target it specifically to suppress part of its activities, it could curb excessive eating of carbohydrate-heavy food,” he said. On the flip side, a substance to activate it could be used to treat people who eat high amounts of fat.
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