Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered that “overeating throws critical portions of the brain out of whack, leading to a malfunctioning hypothalamus, metabolic inflammation, insulin resistance, leptin resistance, obesity and type 2 diabetes”.

The study, published in the October 3 issue of Cell, attempts to expand on previous research which showed that over-nutrition is associated with chronic inflammation in metabolic tissues.

Specifically, they wanted to see whether metabolic inflammation compromises the brain’s metabolic regulatory systems and therefore promotes over-nutrition associated diseases.

Translation:

They wanted to see if a trip to the “All You Can Eat Buffet” would mess with your brain, causing an impaired metabolism and increased obesity.

The Results:

A trip to the “All You Can Eat Buffet” will mess with your brain, causing an impaired metabolism and increased obesity.

The Details:

There is a substance in your brain called IKKβ/NF-κB.

IKKβ/NF-κB is a mediator of metabolic inflammation. Most of the time, it just sits there, inactive.

However, a single session of overeating activates the IKKβ/NF-κB found in your hypothalamus.

Once activated, the IKKβ/NF-κB increases inflammation in your metabolic pathways and interrupts the normal signaling of the obesity regulation hormones, leptin and insulin.

When this happens over and over and over again, your body becomes resistant to insulin and leptin.

And you become fat.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the increased obesity leads to even more inflammation. Which leads to more leptin / insulin resistance and so on and so on.

This all results in quite the little vicious circle of inflammation, hormone resistance and obesity.

Conclusion

The researchers have concluded that “their findings could lead to treatments that might stop this cycle before it gets started”.

If they can inhibit the IKKβ/NF-κB pathway in the hypothalamus, they may be able to eliminate the inflammatory response to over-eating and the resultant hormone resistance and obesity.

They also noted that “if realized, such a strategy would likely offer a safe approach given that the critical pathway appears to be unnecessary in the hypothalamus under normal circumstances.”

APPEARS TO BE UNNECESSARY

Hmmmm, I don’t know about you, but being told that part of my hypothalamus “appears to be unnecessary” doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

Instead, I think that I will just skip that second trip to the trough…errr…buffet table and avoid the entire problem altogether.

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References:

EurekaAlert

Cell