>Year 2013, Issue 2
Prospéro-García O, Méndez DM, Alvarado CI, Pérez MM, López JJ, Ruiz CAE
Inteligencia para la alimentación, alimentación para la inteligencia
Salud Mental 2013; 36 (2)
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Eating is a behavior oriented to get the energy necessary for the organism
to survive and to contend with the demands of its environment.
Food, besides of energy, provides structure and function, as amino
acids are converted into structural or secretion proteins or enzymes.
These proteins are synthesized following a strict genetic code. Variants
in the genome happen frequently, but only those changes that
result in a poor adaptive phenotype are well documented. There are
other changes that may go unnoticed due to culture influence, and
they may be seen as adaptive because they seem to favor individuals
in the short-term. A child that overeats and becomes overweighed is
culturally appreciated as a healthy child. However, systematic studies
have shown that these feeding styles influenced by culture, in the longterm,
result on an irreversible damage to the individual.
Food selection also depends on the functioning of homeostatic
and hedonistic systems. The homeostatic system involves the hypothalamus
that includes nuclei that promote both appetite and satiety.
The hedonic system is constituted by the ventral tegmental area and
the nucleus accumbens. Stimulation of the ventral tegmental area induces
the release of dopamine into the nucleus accumbens, making
the individual to experience pleasure. This system also interacts with
the hypothalamic systems that promote appetite.
As it can be seen, food intake is regulated by diverse cerebral
systems that are under the influence of one another. Failure in one of
these systems may lead the subject to a compulsive, or defective, food
intake. We have allowed media and mercantilist interests to govern
our diet, instead of allowing our brain and its systems to do it. We
should have psycoeducation as a priority in medicine to improve our
capacity to select better quality food to eat, without compromising the
pleasure of eating.
||Reward system, hypothalamus, prefrontal cortex, amygdala, insula, orbitofrontal cortex.
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>Year 2013, Issue 2