What you eat may fool your brain into packing on the pounds
By Janet Raloff October 6th, 2012; Vol.182 #7 (p. 24)
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.
.............The rest of the article is here: http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feat.../345277/title/
It is very interesting, especially the parts about linoleic acid, diet soda and the changes in the brain affected by diet.