If you find you can’t stick to your diet, it may not be a lack of willpower. Hunger-sensitive cells in your brain may be sabotaging you, new research shows.
The findings from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute focus on the discovery that hunger-sensitive cells known as AGRPs located in the brain’s hypothalamus region can outwit even the strongest desires to lose weight and drive us to snack.
According to the researchers, AGRP neurons send strong sensory cues in the presence of food that are difficult to ignore.
Hunger affects nearly every cell in the body, and several types of neurons are dedicated to making sure we eat when energy stores are low.
Previously it was thought that AGRP neurons were responsible for making food taste better when people are hungry. But the new experiments demonstrated that it is the job of AGRP neurons to motivate humans and animals to hunt for food.
And although this is no longer necessary in today’s environment where food is plentiful, the strong signals sent out by these brain cells remain difficult to ignore, the researchers say.
Their study is published in the journal Nature.
The team hopes to devise methods to interfere with the functions of AGRP neurons, which might make it easier to keep those extra pounds off next time you go on a diet.
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