The body's own drugs animate cravings

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The body's own endocannabinoids stimulate the appetite for fatty foods

Cravings tempt most people to go wild. Those who are unlucky suffer as a result of being overweight or even obese. Especially those who try to reduce their body size with a diet will always be confronted with real food cravings. Scientists from the University of Irvine in California have found that these attacks are promoted by an endogenous substance that works in a manner similar to the cannabis plant. The substance is formed in the intestine and leads to uninhibited eating.

Activation of fat intake comes from prehistoric times
The appetite for fatty foods is not a by-product of western industrialized countries, the researchers suspect. "From an evolutionary point of view, it is absolutely necessary for animals to consume fats: They are rarely found in nature, but they are crucial for the function of the body cells," said study leader Daniele Piomelli from the University of California. The researchers suspect that people have inherited the urge for fat from their ancestors in order to consume enough fat. Today, however, the very important flavor carrier is on everyone's lips. Every fast food and ready meal is prepared with excessive simple fats. The more fat, the greater the taste experience. The food industry also knows this and therefore adds a lot of fat to the food. Today, as everyone knows, mass fat consumption leads to obesity, metabolic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

In order to decode the mode of action of the cannabinoid substance, the scientists let rats lick corn oil emulsions in a test setup. However, they prevented the oil from being swallowed. Now they were able to investigate the effects of the fat taste on the organism. The taste of corn oil already triggered the production of endocannabinoids in the animals. At the same time, the researchers measured the concentration of endocannabinoids in the individual brain areas and different body regions. However, the values ​​only increased in the front area of ​​the digestive tract. However, the scientists could not detect an increase in the brain.

Distribution could be blocked
Now the team led by Daniele Piomelli suspects that the active ingredient works like a switch in the intestinal cells. If the body's own drugs are activated, the cravings for fat are also triggered. "This is the first evidence that endocannabinoids in the gut play an important role in regulating fat intake." The substance releases the digestive juices to activate hunger. This hypothesis is now to be proven in further research units. For example, the sensor for dispensing the substance could be blocked to stop the feeling of hunger in obese patients. The entire study was published in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" (PNAS). (sb)

Also read:
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Diet in naturopathy
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