July 12, 2011 Leave a comment
Not exactly the take-home point of this really interesting research about how fatty food stimulates chemical reactions in our gut, but still:
Scientists in California and Italy reported last week that in rats given fatty foods, the body immediately began to release natural marijuanalike chemicals in the gut that kept them craving more…
In the recent rat studies, by a team from the University of California, Irvine, and the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa, the goal was to measure how taste alone affects the body’s response to food. Among rats given liquid diets high in fat, sugar or protein, the ones who got the fatty liquid had a striking reaction: As soon as it hit their taste buds, their digestive systems began producing endocannabinoids, chemicals similar to those produced bymarijuana use.
The compounds serve a variety of functions, including regulation of mood and stress response, appetite, and movement of food through the intestines. Notably, they were released only when the rats tasted fat, not the sugar or protein. The findings were published online last week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
There’s even some potentially really cool practical applications from this in that drugs that block the endocannabinoids in the gut totally stopped the craving for fat. In rats, that is. Still, this could have tremendous implications for humans down the road. And, of course, this is just more evidence that, in many ways, the yummiest food is not all that different from illegal drugs in how our brain and body respond.