It’s Not Your Fault

First,  I need to share some exciting news with you: there is now not only a website (www.myckdexperience.com) associated with What Is It And How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, but also a phone number: (623) 266-2609, AND (thanks to Nima who has worked as a publicist) a twitter address: WhatHowEarlyCKD.  Looks like I’m going to learn how to tweet (or is it twit?).     
 
Back to work now.  I knew it wasn’t all my fault and I resented taking all the blame – although it’s clear I’ll still have to take the responsibility for this.  For what?  Haven’t you read the book? For being obese, of course.
 

I discovered this article (via a tweet? twit?) on today’s New York Times Health Blog.  While it may absolve those of us who are obese from blame, as mentioned, it’s still our responsibility to watch our weight.  Obesity can be a cause of Chronic Kidney Disease, even if indirectly.

 

When Fatty Feasts Are Driven by Automatic Pilot

By TARA PARKER-POPE
Stuart Bradford

“Bet you can’t eat just one” (as the old potato-chip commercials had it) is, of course, a bet most of us end up losing. But why? Is it simple lack of willpower that makes fatty snacks irresistible, or are deeper biological forces at work?

Some intriguing new research suggests the latter. Scientists in California and Italy reported last week that in rats given fatty foods, the body immediately began to release natural marijuanalike chemicals in the gut that kept them
craving more.

The findings are among several recent studies that add new complexity to the obesity debate, suggesting that certain foods set off powerful chemical
reactions in the body and the brain. Yes, it’s still true that people gain weight because they eat more calories than they burn. But those compulsions may stem from biological systems over which the individual has no control.

“I do think some people come into the world, and they are more responsive
to food,” said Susan Carnell, a research associate at the Columbia
University Institute of Human Nutrition. “I think there are many
different routes to obesity.”

In the recent rat studies, by a team from the University of California, Irvine, and the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa, the goal was to measure how taste alone affects the body’s response to food. Among rats given liquid diets high in fat, sugar or protein, the ones who got the fatty liquid had a striking reaction: As soon as it hit their taste buds, their digestive systems
began producing endocannabinoids, chemicals similar to those produced by
marijuana use.

The compounds serve a variety of functions, including regulation of mood
and stress response, appetite, and movement of food through the intestines. Notably, they were released only when the rats tasted fat, not the sugar or protein. The The findings were published online last week in The proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The most surprising thing to most people, including me,” said an author of
the study, Daniele Piomelli, director of drug discovery and development
at U.C. Irvine, “is the findings provide a window on how we relate to fatty foods.”

Since fats are essential for cell functioning, Dr. Piomelli continued, “we have this evolutionary drive to recognize fat, and when we have access to it, to consume as much as we possibly can.”

The finding that the signal to eat more fat is released from the gut offers hope for potential new diet drugs. A Food and Drug Administration committee already has rejected one diet drug that blocks endocannabinoids, called Acomplia in Europe, where it was later withdrawn because it had severe psychological side effects, including suicidal thoughts. The new research suggests that the focus might be shifted to endocannabinoids in the gut, which could alleviate side effects in the brain.

In the rat studies, the researchers injected a cannabinoid-blocking drug into the intestines of the rats and found that they lost interest in the fatty food. “The effect is remarkable,” Dr. Piomelli said. “They are no longer interested
in feeding. They stop completely. We were amazed.”

A drug based on the research is still years away, but the findings offer practical advice to consumers about the powerful biological forces at play when they snack on fatty junk foods.

“We think we eat it because we like it, but it’s not just because we like, but because we want it,” said Dr. David Kessler, former head of the F.D.A. and author of the book “The End of Overeating” (Rodale, 2009). “It has a lot more to do with our brains and the feedback mechanism to our brains than we realize.”

Other studies have shown that the body’s brain reward centers are strongly affected by the foods we eat.

For example, when obese women were shown pictures of high-calorie foods,
their brains showed greater activity in regions associated with anticipating reward than did the brains of normal-weight women. “Reward centers were activated just by saying the words ‘chocolate brownie,’” said Dr. Carnell of Columbia.

The question is whether some people are born more responsive to certain foods, or whether a lifetime of overeating leads to brain and body changes that promote a stronger food response. To shed light on that issue, Dr. Carnell is conducting studies looking at normal-weight teenagers who have obese parents, and as a result are at risk for becoming obese themselves. “I’m interested in whether the brain is responding differently even before they become obese,” she said.

Dr. Kessler notes that consumers need to be aware that the body’s natural signals are often overwhelmed by the abundance of choices and messages about food, so they must be extra vigilant about healthful eating.

“The pull is very strong, and there is a biological reason why food has such power over us,” he said. “It’s a real struggle, and it’s not just a question of being lazy or lack of willpower.

“But just because your brain is being hijacked, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a responsibility to protect yourself.”

You can read the article online at: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/11/when-fatty-feasts-are-driven-by-automatic-pilot/?partner=rss&emc=rss

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to test that theory about not being able to eat just one.

Until Friday,

Keep living your life.

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Published in: on July 12, 2011 at 9:57 am  Leave a Comment  

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