The Body Part That Makes You Fat

brain

Millions of people battle with obesity every year and many of them find it difficult to lose weight which can lead to extreme frustration. Lots of words have been written about the potential causes of obesity but the body part that might have the greatest influence on our body weight is one which might not be the most obvious. That body part? Our brain.


Why Would Our Brain Make Us Fat?
One major reason our brains make us fat is due to hormones. Specifically, the hormones leptin and grehlin. The role leptin, produced by fat cells, plays in our body is that it tells the brain that we’ve had enough to eat, slow down on the appetite and step up the calorie burning. The stomach, meanwhile, produces a hormone called grehlin which is designed to increase the appetite and slow the metabolism.When everything is working as it should, leptin is very good at its job but, the problem comes in when something goes wrong with the system and something doesn’t work the way it should. If your body produces too little leptin, or none at all, then the body doesn’t know when to shut down the appetite and start burning calories and this can lead directly to overeating and obesity.Producing too much leptin can also be an issue. If too much leptin is produced, the receptor in the brain can become overloaded and begin to fail to work properly, leading to a type of leptin resistance.When the leptin receptors in the brain do not function properly, either because there is no leptin to latch onto or because they are resistant to doing so, the brain doesn’t tell the body that it’s had enough and it should start revving up the calorie burners. Once scientists have figured out how they might be able to target and improve those receptors, it could lead to breakthroughs in weight loss. Additionally, research in this area might also help scientists understand how to treat conditions that work similarly such as diabetes.

 

Neurogenesis
Initially, it was thought that our brains stopped growing at some point early in our lives. It has been discovered in recent years that certain areas of the brain continue to generate new neurons for our entire lives via a process called neurogenesis. Those parts of the brain are the hippocampus which is associated with the formation of memories, the olfactory bulb which deals with the sense of smell and the hypothalamus which regulates body temperature, metabolism, thirst, sleep and hunger.Studies with mice have shown that during early childhood, a high-calorie diet didn’t make much of a difference in neurogenesis in the hypothalamus. however, after reaching adulthood, mice consuming a high-calorie diet continued to generate a chemical known as tanycyte that lead to the creation of new neurons in the hypothalamus by a factor of four times over those fed a normal diet. The end result was that these mice eating a high-calorie diet showed an increase in weight gain and a much higher fat mass than the normal mice.While the jury is still out as to whether this increase in hypothalamic neurogenesis has the same effect on humans as it does on mice, scientists and researchers say it would make sense. The purpose of the neurogenesis was likely to help animals, including our ancestors, to survive in the wild by causing them to eat as much as possible when an abundant, calorie-rich food source is discovered. Unfortunately, many of us no longer have problems finding such rich sources of plentiful food. As a result the neurogenesis is detrimental, encouraging us to eat excessively, which leads to fat storage and excessive weight gain.

 

Check Out That Big Brain
Other research, such as that from Emory University, also suggests that evolution may have also just dealt us a bad hand in general. Our brain is focused heavily on eating, however our digestive system hasn’t been designed for the variety and volume of foods we have available today.Humans were initially hunter-gatherers and we eventually evolved to the point that we invented agriculture. Around this dame time, our brains decided that we needed more calories. The study also shows that around the same time, our digestive tract may have shrank. This lead to an energy disparity as the brain needed more energy and the digestive system produced less, leading to a need for high-quality, high-density diet.

 

Can We Reverse These Problems?
Scientists and researchers are just now starting to figure out how the brain affects weight gain and obesity. It may be many more years before the process is fully understood, and there may be additional discoveries made, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the human brain has a lot to do with metabolism, appetite and weight gain.
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