Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Tricks foods play

with 6 comments

The Eldest points out this article by Janet Raloff in Science News:

Most people would never equate downing a well-dressed salad or a fried chicken thigh with toking a joint of marijuana. But to Joseph Hibbeln of the National Institutes of Health, the comparison isn’t a big stretch.

New animal experiments by Hibbeln and his colleagues have recently shown that the body uses a major constituent in most vegetable oils to make its own versions of the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Called endocannabinoids, these natural compounds play a role in heightening appetite. So overproducing them unnecessarily boosts hunger, similarly to how pot triggers the munchies (SN: 6/19/10, p. 16).

If what happens in people mirrors what happens in animals, then the prevalence of soybean oil, corn oil and other polyunsaturated vegetable oils in today’s Western diet means your body is “dumping out a lot of these marijuana-like molecules into your brain,” explains Hibbeln, a nutritional neuroscientist. “You’re chronically a little bit stoned.”

Vegetable oil’s link to endocannabinoids is just one example of newfound and surprising ways that foods can confuse calorie-sensing networks and foster obesity — in some cases by damaging the brain. Especially troubling: Excess body weight itself can exaggerate the risk of the brain telling a well-fueled body that it is running on empty.

By understanding what messes with the body’s satiety meters and why, scientists hope to identify tactics for reducing a diner’s likelihood of becoming another statistic in the obesity epidemic.

Energy in the balance

Responsibility for monitoring calorie input and energy output falls to the brain. And the job is not easy, says endocrinologist Michael Schwartz, director of the University of Washington’s Diabetes and Obesity Center of Excellence in Seattle.

To maintain a constant weight, a 160-pound man would need to consume “about 1 million calories over the course of a year,” Schwartz explains — “and expend almost exactly that same million calories.” Only by integrating hosts of chemical signals day and night can the brain manage this energy-budgeting feat, which it has done quite well for most people throughout most of history.

Though scientists once thought the body controlled appetite through a process of error correction, they now know that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2012 at 9:58 am

6 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Great article I will share with my patients. So important to avoid obesity. Once your set point has been changed it is very difficult to lower it. My experience is that diet drinks are never associated with weight loss. This article has a good explanation for this. Other then soybeans, what other foods are high in linoleic acid?

    James Westcott

    6 October 2012 at 3:45 pm

  2. My own reading has convinced me that the problem is not so much linoleic acid (omega-6), but the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, which is out of whack for most plant-based oils, with olive oil (high in monosaturates) a notable exception. Years ago I stop using corn oil altogether and won’t touch soybean (or cottonseed) oil. I also take wild-salmon oil capsules (4 mg/day). Of course, my diet now has changed a lot from what it once was: much more plant-based eating. See this post for my standard lunch and dinner, plus I have a fruit snack mid-morning and another mid-afternoon.


    6 October 2012 at 3:56 pm

  3. Did this approach provide any health benefits for you. Lower blood pressure, weight loss, etc. I like the variety of vegetables and proteins used in your template. I also believe in the restorative powers of a good glass of wine or a dram of single malt scotch neat.

    James Westcott

    6 October 2012 at 8:20 pm

  4. I lost 80 lbs and despite having type 2 diabetes my HbA1c remains comfortably below 6%, in the 5.4%-5.7% range. I’ve been able to discontinue many meds after losing the weight.

    I in general have paid close attention to various findings regarding diet and health. Right now I am drinking my daily quart (or two) of (iced) white tea with lime juice and pomegranate juice (only 1/2 cup of the latter; the finding was that 3 oz/day significantly improved arterial health). White tea has even more health benefits than green tea.

    I became aware of the importance of omega-3 and the omega-3/omega-6 ratio years ago. I now won’t buy catfish or tilapia because the farmed animals are fed grain and their omega-6 is too high wrt omega-3. For the same reason if I eat beef (quite rarely these days), I buy grassfed rather than cornfed beef.

    I eat a lot of seafood (living in Monterey makes it easy), and I regular eat good sources of various important micronutrients—e.g., oysters, clams, and mussels (B6, zinc, etc.). Greens always included at lunch and dinner. Low on the starch and no bread or white potato or sugar; rice, but converted rice formerly (low glycemic index), but with the recent arsenic findings, I am switching to California rices for white rice, though mostly I eat black rice (more anti-oxidants than blueberries).

    And I walk for exercise—about 45 minutes 5 or 6 days a week, listening (currently) to Don Quixote. Didn’t walk much on the trip or while moving, but getting back into it now.


    6 October 2012 at 8:32 pm

  5. Congratulation on losing weight. One of the harder things to do. The power of a good diet and exercise. Have not heard of white tea or black rice. Will have to look into it. If you see a pretty red head out walking, it could be my sister in law.

    James Westcott

    7 October 2012 at 7:20 am

  6. Well, like many things, losing weight is difficult only until you figure it out—or so it seems to me. After struggling for some six months, I suddenly “got it”, and from then on had relatively little difficulty. I had not realized that weight loss/maintenance was a learned skill, which it seems to me to be. Being enrolled in a good program kept me at it until I grasped the pattern.

    Still: I did add on some pounds on my recent trip, in which I threw caution to the winds (5 Guys makes wonderful hamburgers), but now back into my regular regime.


    7 October 2012 at 7:25 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.