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The Brain and Nutrition

By Texicanwife @texicanwife
How The Brain Senses
Dietary Nutrient Balance

Omega 3 Benefits For Brain Function

Study Examines How the Brain Senses Dietary Nutrient Balance...
It's well-established that eating a balanced diet
is essential for maintaining a healthy body weight
as well as helping regulate healthy energy balance; Until now, the details about how the nutrients we consume are detected and processed in the brain
remain unknown.
A recent research study discovers intriguing new information about how dietary nutrients influence brain cells that are key regulators of energy balance in the body.
The study, published by Cell Press in the November 2011 issue of the journal Neuron, suggests a cellular mechanism that may allow brain cells to translate different diets into different patterns of activity.
"The nutritional composition of meals, such as the protein:carbohydrate (sugar) ratio has long been recognized to affect levels of arousal and attention," explain researchersfrom the University of Cambridge.
"However, while certain specialized neurons are known to sense individual nutrients, such as the sugar glucose, it remains unclear how typical
dietary combinations of nutrients affect energy balance-regulating brain circuits."
The team studied how physiological mixtures of nutrients influenced "orexin/hypocretin" neurons, which are the critical regulators of wakefulness and
energy balance in the body. Previous research had demonstrated that orexin/hypocretin neurons are inhibited by glucose.
The current study revealed that physiologically relevant mixtures of amino acids (derived from proteins such as egg whites) stimulated and activated the orexin/hypocretin neurons. The researchers continued to show that when orexin/hypocretin neurons were simultaneously exposed to amino acids and sugars, the amino acids served to suppress the inhibitory influence of glucose.
Taken together, these results support a new and more complex nutrient-specific model for dietary regulation of orexin/hypocretin neurons. "We found that activity in the orexin/hypocretin system is regulated by macronutrient balance rather than simply by the caloric content of the diet, suggesting that the brain contains not only energy-sensing cells, but also cells that can measure dietary balance," concluded the scientists.
"Our data support the idea that orexin/hypocretin neurons are under a push-pull control by sugars and proteins. Interestingly, although behavioral effects are beyond the scope of our study, this cellular model is consistent with reports that when compared with sugar-rich meals, protein-rich meals are more effective at promoting wakefulness and arousal."

Journal Reference:
"Activation of Central Orexin/Hypocretin Neurons by Dietary Amino Acids" Neuron
November, 2011;
This article is for informational and educational purposes only; It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor or
healthcare professional.

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