August 21, 2008
Damage To Appetite Control Cells Causes Obesity?

If neuroendocrinologist Dr Zane Andrews has it right aging of appetite control neurons reduces appetite suppression in the brain and thereby causes excess eating.

A Monash University scientist has discovered key appetite control cells in the human brain degenerate over time, causing increased hunger and potentially weight-gain as we grow older.

The research by Dr Zane Andrews, a neuroendocrinologist with Monash University's Department of Physiology, has been published in Nature.

Dr Andrews found that appetite-suppressing cells are attacked by free radicals after eating and said the degeneration is more significant following meals rich in carbohydrates and sugars.

Yet another vicious cycle. Your brain becomes damaged by the carbs. That makes you want more carbs. Hey, carbs are like cocaine. Insert my recurring comments about a lack of free will here.

"The more carbs and sugars you eat, the more your appetite-control cells are damaged, and potentially you consume more," Dr Andrews said.

Dr Andrews said the attack on appetite suppressing cells creates a cellular imbalance between our need to eat and the message to the brain to stop eating.

"People in the age group of 25 to 50 are most at risk. The neurons that tell people in the crucial age range not to over-eat are being killed-off.

The proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons get hit by free radicals. We need neural stem cell therapy to replace POMC neurons to get our appetites under control. Imagine that. Stem cells for weight control.

"When the stomach is empty, it triggers the ghrelin hormone that notifies the brain that we are hungry. When we are full, a set of neurons known as POMC's kick in.

"However, free radicals created naturally in the body attack the POMC neurons. This process causes the neurons to degenerate overtime, affecting our judgement as to when our hunger is satisfied," Dr Andrews said.

The free radicals also try to attack the hunger neurons, but these are protected by the uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2).

Oh what wretches we are. Dietary advice to replace fats with carbs might have sealed our fates and doomed us to early deaths. Even if we turn away from potatoes and buns today the damage has already been done.

Dr Andrews said the reduction in the appetite-suppressing cells could be one explanation for the complex condition of adult-onset obesity.

"A diet rich in carbohydrate and sugar that has become more and more prevalent in modern societies over the last 20-30 years has placed so much strain on our bodies that it's leading to premature cell deterioration," Dr Andrews said.

Dr Andrews' next research project will focus on finding if a diet rich in carbohydrates and sugars has other impacts on the brain, such as the increased incidences of neurological conditions like Parkinson's disease.

We lack free will. It gets worse as we age. We need stem cell therapies to restore at least the illusion of free will - as well as make us skinnier and younger looking and feeling.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 August 21 10:10 PM  Aging Diet Weight Studies


Comments
Christopher Rasch said at August 21, 2008 10:53 PM:

Great stuff! Thanks!

Mary Titus, Orange California said at September 12, 2008 8:57 PM:

I am a 51 year old woman who has been indulging in the low carb diet for nearly 6 years. Over that period of time I have observed and more and more examples of how healthy and therapeutic the low carb diet is...I will not allow anyone tell me that my diet is unhealthy. It is especially notable that a extremely low carb, high fat ( ketogenic ) diet is used to treat epilepsy. I would like to see what other neurological maladies especially some forms of dystonia that can be helped. I am not a doctor but I would wager that ketogenic diet can help some forms of dystonia. The ketogenic diet has already been used to treat Parkinsons and Alzheimers with much success. I have documentation on that. However, I have no documentation on focal dystonia. Please consider this for research...it is needed.

Mary Titus, Orange California said at September 12, 2008 9:12 PM:

Another point I would like to make is how my story finally makes snese. As a kid, it was very difficult for me to overeat. This made it very easy to be skinny. The problem with that was, I wasn't trying to be skinny. I tried so hard to put on weight but my inability to overdose on food prevented any significant weight gain. Most foods that I had difficulty with were carbs. I couldn't eat bread, doughnuts, rice, pasta etc. It didn't "fit" in my system. What did fit, was meat and vegetables. Eventually, as I got older, I began acquiring a taste for this junk and guess what happened by the time I turned 30? Yep, I began gaining weight. I gained close to forty lbs, over night. The food that I once hated became foods that I craved. So you young people who think that you are protected from the hazards of high carb food...be aware of what's to come. Do what you can to make low carb, your dietary habit.

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