Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Stress Affects Metabolism and Cravings

Researchers at the Weizmann Institute in Israel have discovered that high levels of stress activate a gene which affects metabolism and contributes to our cravings for sweet and fatty foods.

Study supervisor Dr. Alon Chen, a neuro-endocrinologist at the Weizmann Institute's Department of Neurobiology, says: "We showed that the actions of a single gene in just one part of the brain can have profound effects on the metabolism of the whole body." This gene may be influencing our choice of snacks, contributing to our cravings for fatty foods and sweet treats.

The Ucn3 protein that Dr. Chen and his team identified is produced in the brain, which controls the pancreas, muscles and liver, and appears to be involved in a cascade of events related to stress. They discovered that increased levels of Ucn3 caused anxiety and changes in metabolism. The Israeli researchers have also discovered that there's a 'stress switch' that seems to lead to diabetes and obesity. source

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