Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mid-afternoon slump? Why a sugar rush may not be the answer

Date:
November 29, 2011
Source:
University of Cambridge
Summary:
A new study has found that protein and not sugar activates the cells responsible for keeping us awake and burning calories. The research has implications for understanding obesity and sleep disorders.

Protein -- not sugar -- stimulates cells keeping us thin and awake, a new study suggests.

A new study has found that protein and not sugar activates the cells responsible for keeping us awake and burning calories. The research, published in the Nov. 17 issue of the scientific journal Neuron, has implications for understanding obesity and sleep disorders.

Wakefulness and energy expenditure rely on "orexin cells," which secrete a stimulant called orexin/hypocretin in the brain. Reduced activity in these unique cells results in narcolepsy and has been linked to weight gain.

Scientists at the University of Cambridge compared actions of different nutrients on orexin cells. They found that amino acids -- nutrients found in proteins such as egg whites -- stimulate orexin neurons much more than other nutrients.

"Sleep patterns, health, and body weight are intertwined. Shift work, as well as poor diet, can lead to obesity," said lead researcher Dr Denis Burdakov of the Department of Pharmacology and Institute of Metabolic Science. "Electrical impulses emitted by orexin cells stimulate wakefulness and tell the body to burn calories. We wondered whether dietary nutrients alter those impulses."

To explore this, the scientists highlighted the orexin cells (which are scarce and difficult to find) with genetically targeted fluorescence in mouse brains. They then introduced different nutrients, such as amino acid mixtures similar to egg whites, while tracking orexin cell impulses.

They discovered that amino acids stimulate orexin cells. Previous work by the group found that glucose blocks orexin cells (which was cited as a reason for after-meal sleepiness), and so the researchers also looked at interactions between sugar and protein. They found that amino acids stop glucose from blocking orexin cells (in other words, protein negated the effects of sugar on the cells).

These findings may shed light on previously unexplained observations showing that protein meals can make people feel less calm and more alert than carbohydrate meals.

"What is exciting is to have a rational way to 'tune' select brain cells to be more or less active by deciding what food to eat," Dr Burdakov said. "Not all brain cells are simply turned on by all nutrients, dietary composition is critical.

"To combat obesity and insomnia in today's society, we need more information on how diet affects sleep and appetite cells. For now, research suggests that if you have a choice between jam on toast, or egg whites on toast, go for the latter! Even though the two may contain the same number of calories, having a bit of protein will tell the body to burn more calories out of those consumed."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cambridge. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons license. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. MaheshM. Karnani, John Apergis-Schoute, Antoine Adamantidis, LiseT. Jensen, Luis deLecea, Lars Fugger, Denis Burdakov. Activation of Central Orexin/Hypocretin Neurons by Dietary Amino Acids. Neuron, 2011; 72 (4): 616 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.08.027

Cite This Page:

University of Cambridge. "Mid-afternoon slump? Why a sugar rush may not be the answer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111116124714.htm>.
University of Cambridge. (2011, November 29). Mid-afternoon slump? Why a sugar rush may not be the answer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111116124714.htm
University of Cambridge. "Mid-afternoon slump? Why a sugar rush may not be the answer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111116124714.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) 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