This episode of Dnews is brought to you by
Domain.com Okay so we’re a month behind in meme time,
but we know goats crave that mineral but why do we crave anything? Cravings are a strange phenomena and it’s
not just pregnant women who get them. folk wisdom says that craving a mineral means
you have some mineral deficiency. But let’s be real here, if that worked then we would
all crave healthy foods rather than mac and cheese and chocolate. Recently, researchers from the Picower Institute
for Learning and Memory looked at sugar cravings in mice to see what
was going on in the brain. They looked at the relationship between the the ventral tegmental
area which is the brain’s natural reward processing center and the lateral hypothalamus
which is responsible for feeding. They used a technique called optogenetics.
This process uses light to trigger light sensitive proteins that can activate or silence a set
of neurons that connect these two parts of the brain. When activated, the mice stuffed their faces
with sweetness and overate even when they weren’t hungry. When silenced, the mice
still ate regular food when they were hungry, but they no longer compulsively ate the sugar.
This indicated that the neural circuit for sugar cravings is a different circuit than
the one that regulates healthy eating. Mice aside, for us most cravings start with
a cue. Think of Pavlov’s dogs. Something happens that just gets our mouth watering.
Like dreaming of your mom’s roast beef as soon as you land back in your hometown or
craving ice cream on a hot summer day. Another cue for most people is stress, which can trigger
cravings for comfort food. We crave chocolate during hormonal fluctuations, not for any
biological reason. We’ve just come to associate the chocolate with comfort during a pretty
uncomfortable time of the month. Cravings feel so strong because they are so
vivid in the mind. The very act of craving a food, not just being hungry and wanting
to eat, but craving something specific like ice cream or chocolate, conjures up images
in the brain, which uses up cognitive resources. One study showed that those who craved chocolate
did worse on memory and math problems. We can literally distract ourselves with our
cravings. We typically crave high-caloric foods, stuffed
with fat and sugar, because they were a rarity in our evolutionary past. We evolved a reward
system associated with these foods. When we eat sweets our brain kicks off a cascade of
chemistry, feel good hormones like dopamine and serotonin flood our system, giving us
a bit of a sugar high. So when we’re stressed and need a bit of a pick me up, we turn to
these foods. While we all crave something at some point
in our lives, unusual cravings might be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Craving salt? You might have addison’s disease.
Addison’s disease degrades the endocrine system leading to electrolyte imbalances.
The adrenal glands don’t make enough cortisol and AL DOSS TER OWN aldosterone. Aldosterone
helps the body hold on to the salt it needs. When you don’t make enough of it, you can
get an unusually strong desire to eat salty things. Craving chalk? or paint chips? You might have
Pica, named from the Latin for Magpie, because of the belief magpies’lll eat anything.
Pica is the bizarre behavior of eating things like clay, chalk, soap, dirt, or rocks. Scientists
think a lack of nutrients might cause this craving maybe because of an iron deficiency,
celiacs disease or hookworm. Mental health related illness like OCD or schizophrenia
might also lead someone to chow down on chalk. By the way, if you’re craving a better website,
why not buy a domain name from domain.com? No domain extension will help you tell your
story like a DOT COM or DOT NET domain name. And because you watch DNews, you can get 15%
off Domain Dot Com’s names and web hosting by using the code DNews when you check out. Want to learn more about cravings? Click here
and let Laci tell you more about how they can be caused by high stress. And be sure
to subscribe here for more DNews every day of the week.