Neuroscience news gets weirder and weirder all the time: Two recent studies indicate that the future of diet interventions will go beyond surgeries or pills that simulate neurochemicals in the brain, and directly interfere with the brain’s signals and pathways. Researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases in Maryland found that energy-storing white fat in the body can be converted to brown fat, the energy-burning kind, by suppressing a signal in the brain. The research was done in mice, but if applicable in humans, we could potentially turn our body’s stores of fat into the world’s best metabolism booster (if you’re willing to undergo a little genetic engineering, that is).
Perhaps while the you-of-2025 is under the neuro-pathway knife, you could also have the docs block the ‘sodium pathways’ in your brain to end those salty food cravings. A team of Duke University and Australian Scientists have found the same nerve cells and connections in the brain that spur drug addiction also spur our appetites for salt.
“We were surprised and gratified to see that blocking addiction-related pathways could powerfully interfere with sodium appetite,” said Wolfgang Liedtke, a Professor of Medicine and Neurobiology at Duke University and co-author of the study, which was published online last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Liedtke also said researchers, who used mice as subjects, were surprised they could detect genes being ‘turned on’ or ‘turned off’ for salt appetite.
Illustration copyright (c) 2005 Nicolas P. Rougier