Monday, June 30, 2008

Gherlin makes us eat more!!!

According to an article in the Science Daily May 7, 2008

“A gut hormone causes people to eat more by making food appear more desirable, suggests a new report in the May issue of Cell Metabolism, a publication of Cell Press.

In a brain imaging study of individuals, the researchers found that reward centers respond more strongly to pictures of food in subjects who had received an infusion of the hormone known as ghrelin. The findings suggest that the two drives for feeding--metabolic signals and pleasure signals--are actually intertwined. It has also been well established that ghrelin activates feeding through its effects on the hypothalamus, where ghrelin receptors are densely concentrated. However, ghrelin also has specific effects on many brain regions implicated in reward and motivation.

"Ghrelin has widespread effects," Dagher said. "It's not one or two brain regions, but the whole network. [After ghrelin infusion], food pictures become even more salient--people actually see them better. It influences not only visual processing, but also memory. People remembered the food pictures better when ghrelin was high."

The reward centers linked to ghrelin in the new study are also those involved in drug addiction. "That shows it's reasonable to think of high-calorie food as having addictive potential.”

Wow, we really should be closing down the Mc Donalds and the KFC’s of the world!!!!!
We are always told that “ you are what you eat”, therefore it is imperitive that we put only the good stuff inside our bodies. But how often are we successful at following the right advise ?We always blame our lack of will power and berate ourselves for indulging in yet another gastronomic pleasure.Every time I took another bite of that tiramisu, or that lovely dark chocolate, I would get that momentary high followed by a long guilt ridden low . Now research has proven that it is not my fault that I am unable to stick to my resolve. Its that miscreant Gherlin rearing its ugly tentacles and forcing me to take yet another bite . I have an alibi, “its not me its Gherlin!!!!!!!”.
Or is it really???
Of course , if research says , there is a hormone that makes us eat more by giving us pleasure, so be it. I like the theory. I really like it. As I was discussing this article with a couple of friends, all too suddenly one exclaimed “ I knew it!! I have tried so many times to loose weight, but I just can’t stop eating, now I know why? Another took her que and said that it was the same with her, she has been trying to give up smoking but she can’t, it’s the bl…y gherlin.” I too thought of my indescretions with food and alcohol and eased back in my chair thinking that finally I too could relegate responsibility of my actions to my hormones.
I came back home and as I was giving my daughter her daily dose of inspiration!!!!!! ( our favorite line is if you say you can you can and if you say you can’t you can’t) it dawned on me that I was trying to preach what I was not following. How easily I was blaming my new friend “GHERLIN” for my addictions.
The Gherlin was more like a Gremlin and we all know what Gremlins do,( they wreak havoc by sabotaging airplanes). So the gherlin was the gremlin responsible for sabotaging my resolve and self restraint….
But did I have to be a slave to my addictions? Addictions only happen if we allow them to become addictions. Gherlin’s job is to make us feel hungry,it will do what ever it needs to make us eat. It is marketing its need. Marketing is all about making the product look more attractive and thereby more appealing. It is our descretion to allow the marketing strategy to work or not.
There is word in sanskrit called ‘samskaras’. Samskaras are grooves and impressions of the mind. These samskaras are formed when certain thought waves become habitual. If we were to ignore these thought waves or ‘vrittis’, no patterns or impressions would be formed, but if we were to give in to our momentary pleasure, it would become a force in our life and a samskara would be formed. Once a samskara has been formed, it takes a huge effort to erase that particular impression.
Every time we give in to our desire a new brain pattern is formed and our desire becomes our necessity.
The cycle goes like this. Meal times- gherlin production increases, we get hungry we eat, but 90% of the time we over eat. Now our stomach and our brain has gotten used to eating more than we need and the groove/impression of the required amount of food has been formed. This generally happens during childhood. Often parents in their well meaning way force the children to eat more than they need . So now our gherlin production has increased and leptin ( the hormone that tells us we are full) has been slowed. It now takes a huge effort to retrain our brain and our stomach to go back to its original food requirement. Our ‘samskara’ for overeating has been formed.
Gherlin also activates the reward centre of the brain and indirectly adds to our pleasure, so if you read between the lines, it is not really the food that the brain is craving for, it is craving pleasure.
Now we understand why when we are emotionaly down we crave food. It’s the pleasure derived out of eating a high calorie food that we crave, so if it is pleasure that the body is craving, we need to look at what gives us pleasure.

Could alternative pleasure be an antidote to obesity? Could sex substitute food? What are the other activities that give pleasure? Going for movies, ( no popcorn and no sodas), spending an evening with friends, Indulging in your favorite pass time (other than eating), exercising, reading, etc. whatever brings pleasure to you will help you achieve your weight loss goal.
Find a passion . Get into the flow ( as mentioned by Mihaly Chikszentmihalyi). When one is in a state of flow, nothing else matters… so gherlin or no gherlin…you are always in control


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