Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Body's natural marijuana-like chemicals make fatty foods hard to resist

Date:
July 8, 2011
Source:
University of California - Irvine
Summary:
Recent studies have revealed potato chips and french fries to be the worst contributors to weight gain -- and with good reason. Have you ever wondered why you can't eat just one chip or a single fry? It's not just the carbohydrates at fault.

Recent studies have revealed potato chips and french fries to be the worst contributors to weight gain -- and with good reason. Have you ever wondered why you can't eat just one chip or a single fry? It's not just the carbohydrates at fault.

UC Irvine researchers Daniele Piomelli, Nicholas DiPatrizio and colleagues found that fats in these foods make them nearly irresistible and trigger a surprising biological mechanism that likely drives our gluttonous behavior. The apparent culprit? Natural marijuana-like chemicals in the body called endocannabinoids.

In their study, the Piomelli team discovered that when rats tasted something fatty, cells in their upper gut started producing endocannabinoids. Sugars and proteins, the researchers noted, did not have this effect.

The process starts on the tongue, where fats in food generate a signal that travels first to the brain and then through a nerve bundle called the vagus to the intestines. There, the signal stimulates the production of endocannabinoids, which initiates a surge in cell signaling that prompts the wanton intake of fatty foods, Piomelli said, probably by initiating the release of digestive chemicals linked to hunger and satiety that compel us to eat more.

"This is the first demonstration that endocannabinoid signaling in the gut plays an important role in regulating fat intake," added the Louise Turner Arnold Chair in the Neurosciences and professor of pharmacology.

Study results appear in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Piomelli said that from an evolutionary standpoint, there's a compelling need for animals to consume fats, which are scarce in nature but crucial for proper cell functioning. In contemporary human society, however, fats are readily available, and the innate drive to eat fatty foods leads to obesity, diabetes and cancer.

The findings suggest it might be possible to curb this tendency by obstructing endocannabinoid activity -- for example, by using drugs that "clog" cannabinoid receptors. Since these drugs wouldn't need to enter the brain, they shouldn't cause the central side effects -- anxiety and depression -- seen when endocannabinoid signaling is blocked in the brain, Piomelli noted.

Director of the UCI School of Medicine's Center for Drug Discovery & Development, Piomelli is one of the world's leading researchers on endocannabinoids. His groundbreaking work is showing that this system can be targeted by new treatments for anxiety, depression and obesity.

Giuseppe Astarita of UCI and Gary Schwartz and Xiaosong Li of New York's Yeshiva University contributed to the study, which received support from the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Irvine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nicholas V. Dipatrizio, Giuseppe Astarita, Gary Schwartz, Xiaosong Li, Daniele Piomelli. Endocannabinoid signal in the gut controls dietary fat intake. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1104675108

Cite This Page:

University of California - Irvine. "Body's natural marijuana-like chemicals make fatty foods hard to resist." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110704151438.htm>.
University of California - Irvine. (2011, July 8). Body's natural marijuana-like chemicals make fatty foods hard to resist. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110704151438.htm
University of California - Irvine. "Body's natural marijuana-like chemicals make fatty foods hard to resist." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110704151438.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins