News / USA

Some Fatty Foods Trigger Natural High

Fatty foods can trigger the production of endocannabinoids,  the same class of feel-good brain chemicals that marijuana stimulates in the brain.
Fatty foods can trigger the production of endocannabinoids, the same class of feel-good brain chemicals that marijuana stimulates in the brain.

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Jessica Berman

Ever wonder why foods that are bad for you - such as fat-laced potato chips and French fries - taste so good? It turns out they follow the same pleasure-inducing biochemical pathways through the body as marijuana does, encouraging people to keep eating even when they know they should stop.

There used to be an old television commercial in the United States that boasted a certain brand of potato chip tasted so good, you could never eat just one.  It turns out there is a biological reason for that.

Fat is an important component of healthy human cell membranes and high-fat foods, which are rare in the wild, and were prized by early humans as a rich source of energy. As a result, says Daniele Piomelli at the University of California, Irvine, humans developed a biological preference for fatty foods.

“The mechanisms that have evolved to make animals eat as much as possible now are turning against us because now fat is everywhere," says Piomelli. "We have fat in our refrigerators, in our cabinets in the kitchen and it is very easy for us to eat too much of it because of this long evolution that has taught us that it is rare and hard to find.”

Piomelli's team has discovered a biological pathway that encouraged ancient humans to eat large quantities of the scarce nutrient - whenever they found it - to ensure their survival. Today, eating fat still provokes feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, similar to the high people get when smoking marijuana.

According to Piomelli, when fatty foods are swallowed and hit the upper digestive tract, they trigger the production of endocannabinoids. That's the same class of feel-good chemicals that marijuana, or cannabis, stimulates in the brain.

Endocannabinoids in the gut send a surge of cell-signaling to the brain, which shoots back a message telling the body to keep eating.

Piomelli's team discovered the fat pathway in research with rats. The rats didn’t like sugar water or water laced with protein as much as they liked oily water. The animals continued to consume the oil water until they were full, which is the body’s natural signal to stop eating.

But since fats contain more calories than carbohydrates or proteins combined, waiting for satiety, or fullness, is not necessarily the best strategy to limit consumption of fatty foods.

Piomelli says researchers are interested in developing drugs that target endocannabinoids in the digestive tract to help people with their fatty food cravings.

“When some people eat fat, they eat it in large amounts - for example a pint of ice cream or a whole bag of potato chips.  And hopefully by using these type of medications, we can decrease overweight and obesity.”

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid