Friday, August 22, 2008

Another way green tea fights obesity

Researchers at Australia's Monash University have found that carbohydrates and and sugars promote weight gain not only by being converted into fat but also by damaging the brain cells that suppress appetite.

This happens because carbs and sugars create large amounts of free radicals, which attack neurons in the brain known as POMC neurons. When we eat and our stomach fills up, these neurons — when functioning normally — "turn off" our hunger by telling the brain, "OK, you can stop eating now. We're full!"

(Nature has an illustration describing how POMC cells regulate appetite.)

But when these neurons degenerate prematurely over time due to the free radicals in carb- and sugar-rich diets, these cells lose their ability to suppress appetite. A person with weakened POMC neurons will still feel hungry even after eating his fill and consequently pack on the pounds.

But green tea, remember, is positively rich in antioxidants, which zap free radicals — including (presumably) the ones that attack POMC cells. So, by keeping our POMC cells healthy, green tea can fend of obesity.

There will be a test on this tomorrow.

—Mellow Monk

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