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.
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.
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