If you've ever tried going on a diet to lose weight, you know how hard it is to stick to it. A new study published in the Cell Press's Cell Metabolism Journal suggests a possible reason why. According to the research done by Rajat Singh of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, your brain's hypothalamus contains "hunger-inducing neurons" that eat parts of themselves when you're starving. When this happens, they signal your brain that you're hungry and prompt you to grab a bite.
Singh calls the process of neurons eating themselves as autophagy and reveals how tests done on mice show that blocking it can help fight hunger and battle obesity. After autophagy occurs, lipids containing agouti-related peptides (AgRP) create free fatty acids that boost AgRP levels and increase hunger signals. Singh's new experiment with mice shows that by blocking autophagy in these neurons, the AgRP levels stayed the same and helped change the mice's body chemistry, making them eat less and become leaner.
Singh's findings also show that having elevated levels of fatty acids in your bloodstream can change your metabolism, as well, this time with negative effects: you will be more prone to overeating until it becomes a "vicious cycle" that changes your energy balance.
Unless you know a way of blocking your hypothalamus's neurons, it looks like using a diet to lose weight--especially one of the more extreme ones--might not be the best way to go about pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Here are tips to help you out if you're looking for alternatives:
Instead of going on a diet, how about consuming healthier foods instead? Try these articles for tips and recipes:(Photo by elvinstar via sxc.hu)