Your brain makes you crave for junk food and that can be stopped, says Japan study

Junk food
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A little tweak in your brain can make you crave for carbs over fatty food, says a study by Japan's National Institute for Physiological Sciences. The research team has found that activating a subset of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)–positive neurons in the paraventricular hypothalamus (PVH) will induce a dietary preference for carbohydrate over fat.

The prevalent sedentary lifestyle has seen an increase in the intake of a high-fat diet, partly due to carbohydrate craving that is often triggered by stressful life events and mood disturbances. However, the factor responsible for these two types of diet craving remained unknown till now.

Though food selection is generally regulated by likeness for the taste, sometimes body prefers to judge the nutritional value of the food. This was proved with an experiment done on mice.

When fasting rodents were given choice between a high-carb diet and high-fat diet, they preferred the former. The researchers found that activation of a subset of CRH–positive neurons was responsible for inducing carb craving. This, in turn, resulted in the rapid recovery from the change in ketone metabolism – one of body's technique to combat food deprivation.

Researchers hope that this study will help people switch from fat-loaded sugary diet to a better alternative. However, corresponding author Yasuhiko Minokoshi told AFP that it would be difficult to immediately apply the findings to improving human diets. Also suppressing the neurons suddenly could trigger side effects.

This study will be published in the online edition of the US journal Cell Reports

"Dysregulation of food selection behavior is associated with stressful life events in humans. CRH neurons in the PVH are activated by stress. This study will contribute to the better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of stress and obesity on food selection behaviour," says Yasuhiko Minokoshi.