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Ice cream really can control your brain

Certain fat molecules suppress appetite-control signals, study finds

Before you flip open that tub of Ben and Jerry's, be aware that ice cream really can control your brain and say "eat me."

A U.S. study by UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas has found that fat from certain foods such ice cream and burgers heads to the brain.

Once there, the fat molecules trigger the brain to send messages to the body's cells, warning them to ignore the appetite-suppressing signals from leptin and insulin, hormones involved in weight regulation — for up to three days.

"Normally, our body is primed to say when we've had enough, but that doesn't always happen when we're eating something good," said researcher Deborah Clegg in a statement.

"What we've shown in this study is that someone's entire brain chemistry can change in a very short period of time. Our findings suggest that when you eat something high in fat, your brain gets "hit" with the fatty acids, and you become resistant to insulin and leptin.

"Since you're not being told by the brain to stop eating, you overeat."

The researchers also found that one particular type of fat — palmitic acid which is found in beef, butter, cheese and milk, is particularly effective at instigating this mechanism.

The study was performed on rats and mice but the scientists say their results, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, reinforced common dietary recommendations to limit saturated fat intake as "it causes you to eat more."

The study was conducted by exposing rats and mice to fat in different ways — by injecting various types of fat directly into the brain, infusing fat through the carotid artery or feeding the animals through a stomach tube three times a day.

The animals received the same amount of calories and fat and only the type of fat differed. The types included palmitic acid, monounsaturated fatty acid and unsaturated oleic acid which is found in olive and grapeseed oils.

"The action was very specific to palmitic acid, which is very high in foods that are rich in saturated-fat," said Clegg.

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Comment by Chad RD on January 25, 2010 at 1:29am
I'm sure fat and sugar combos are worst than eating them alone, but this is suggesting that beef, butter, and cheese will lead to overeating. None of these things are high in sugar and fat.
I don't think overeating ice cream has much to do with the fat content. People can probably overeat just as well on frozen yogurt. It's those addicting morphine-like compounds in milk.
Comment by cbs on January 25, 2010 at 1:18am
I eat less calories when I eat fatty foods. They are so hard to digest, heavy, I dont want to eat. My experience anyways.
Comment by Karmyn on January 25, 2010 at 12:52am
Hi Chad,

Maybe the fat and sugar combinations are worst than eating either item alone.

I mean who doesn't overeat ice cream?
Comment by Chad RD on January 25, 2010 at 12:39am
I don't agree with this. One reason why people lose weight on Adkins diet is because they tend to eat less calories. According to this article you would expect those people to be eating much more. The China Study notes that during one study on a high protein diet, the participants ate an average of 1,450 calories, which is roughly 35% less on average.
I still have some of my old calorie counts from when I ate a high fat diet. I eat more calories on 811 than I did when I consumed meat, dairy, and coconut milk.
Comment by Karmyn on January 25, 2010 at 12:05am
This makes PERFECT sense to me! I've had those experiences when I used to eat animal fats and now I'm realizing that plant fats have the same effect on me!

I've decided that the only time I'm eating nuts is if I have access to freshly harvested ones (which these days is NEVER)

My favorite avocados are the ones that grow in Hawaii and I'll probably spend a week or two a year there if I'm LUCKY.

As much as I like the young coconut meat here in Panama I think I'm better off just sticking to drinking the water and letting Andrew have the meat.


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