My father had an acquired brain injury due to an infection, one of the side effects of this was that he would always be wanting to eat. He would hide food and then find it later to eat. If food was there, especially sweet food, he would just want to keep eating. We were amazed that he could find room, so had to keep a close eye on him to stop him from putting on weight. He was not alone in having this sort of issue and in aged care centres across the country, staff have to carefully monitor their residents to ensure they do not put on weight or eat someone else’s food.
A recent study has shown that there is a set of neurons within the brain that are the off switch for appetite. In my father’s case, and those like him, these neurons have been damaged or destroyed and therefore the off switch does not work. So we have to do it for them.
The study was published in the journal Nature on 13 October 2013, was done by scientists at the University of Washington, using genetic engineering.
Mice were used in the study to determine that nerves in the gut send messages through to specific neurons containing calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and the appetite is suppressed.
These neurons are found in the region called the parabrachial nucleus, which is in the front of the brain.
Richard Palmiter, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Washington and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, said; “These results demonstrate that activation of the CGRP-expressing neurons regulates appetite. This is a nice example of how the brain responds to unfavourable conditions in the body, such as nausea caused by food poisoning.”
This article has been written by Rachelle Williams – The Green Food Safety Coach