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Overeating Triggers Overeating

Posted Mar 03 2009 2:17pm

Want a terrific example of the proverbial "vicious circle" when it comes to diet?

Check this out:

Overeating can actually stimulate a metabolic response in the brain that induces cravings to eat more. The result? A vicious cycle of elevated calorie consumption that can lead to obesity, diabetes and insulin resistance.

We've long known that inflammation is a huge part of every degenerative disease from Alzheimer's to heart disease, and it's a big part of obesity as well.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of California-San Diego found that overeating can induce inflammatory responses that underlie Type ll Diabetes and obesity.

Here's how it works. There's a structure in your brain called the hypothalamus which is like the command center for regulating appetite, feeding behavior, energy and body-weight balance. And there's a hormone in the body called leptin which has a lot to do with regulating appetite. Leptin talks to the hypothalamus, but when communication lines are down and the hypothalamus doesn't get the message that "we don't need any more food", the hypothalamus can promote or induce either obesity or type ll Diabetes (or both).

Overeating turns on a (normally inactive) protein in the hypothalamus that screws up the communication that would normally keep obesity and associated metabolic problems at bay. When you eat "normally", this protein keeps its mouth shut. When you overeat, the protein acts like a drunk at a Karaoke bar.

So what's the big news? We've known that eating too much makes you fat since forever.

The news is that it's not just that excess calories go right to your butt and thighs. That would be bad enough. But those excess calories actually upset and inflame metabolic processes that underlie disease.

There's a Confucian-inspired adage used by the long-lived healthy people in Okinawa: Hara hachi bu.

It means- eat till you're 80% full.

In other words, push away from the table before you're stuffed. You won't get fat, you might just live longer, and you'll probably protect yourself from some really nasty metabolic consequences.

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