When we reach into a refrigerator, and we take that pint of ice cream, there are a lot more things happening than we think. A new study has found a similarity between two very interesting things. Eating fat and smoking marijuana. The next time you indulge in a juicy steak or a hot fudge sundae, consider this: The high you get from eating all that fat may be related to the one you might feel if you smoked marijuana.
The same mechanism that gives pot smokers the "munchies" -- that is, a nearly irresistible desire to eat -- appears to help explain why people like fat so much, according to a new study.
At issue in the study are chemicals in the brain known as endocannabinoids, which scientists think are crucial to regulating things such as mood, anxiety and appetite, explained Piomelli, director of the UCI Center for Drug Discovery & Development. Fat appears to activate the chemicals, as does marijuana.
It makes sense that appetite and pot-smoking would be connected, Piomelli added. After all, besides helping people relax and feel less anxious in many cases, marijuana can trigger the "munchies" -- a desire to consume food, especially junk food.
They found that only fat appeared to turn on the endocannabinoid system by a signal that traveled to the brain and then to the intestines via a certain nerve bundle called the vagus, and that happened early in the process of digestion.
In English Please!!!
Basically, The fat hits the tongue, the cannabinoids kick in and the craving for more fat follows. It is basically nature's way of making sure that animals eat enough fat when it is available, so that they have the energy they need to survive as a species. The problem comes in modern life, when the animals known as humans often have plenty to eat. Believe it or not, before the invention of the refrigerator, fats were hard to find. In modern life, fat is EVERYWHERE!!!
The findings of this study make perfect sense to me and I think we all know what this study is talking about. We've all had that bowl of ice cream in front of us, and we've all had that second bowl in front of us, and some of us....I'll just stop there :)
So what's going to happen now?
This study provides more support for finding ways to manipulate hunger -- particularly our desire to eat more than we need. The problem, he said, is that drugs designed to do just that have made people irritable, depressed and anxious. That's why they're no longer being developed. The challenge is finding a drug that affects the endocannabinoid system but doesn't enter the brain and cause the psychological side effects.
For people who might benefit from this type of medication, hopefully it will become available in the future, and hopefully doctors keep prescriptions to it on a tight leash so it's not abused.
For those who would truly qualify for such a drug, imagine being able to block this mechanism so that when you reach for your pint of ice cream, you have one or two spoonfuls and that would be fine.
Until then...self-control everyone!
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