06 Apr 2020

Follow your gut: Newly identified digestive-brain axis controls food choice

We may try to consciously make good food choices, but our bodies have their own way of weighing in. A new study reveals a learning mechanism orchestrated by the digestive and nervous systems that leads animals to actively seek out certain foods. These results are a step towards understanding how eating-related disorders, such as obesity, occur.

Follow your gut:  Newly identified digestive-brain axis controls food choice

Food has something of a “magic hold” on us, as certain flavors and textures can pretty much dictate what we do. Just think about the spicy dish that keeps bringing you back to that remote Chinese restaurant, or the irresistibly creamy but expensive ice-cream at the Italian place on the corner.

But is it only your palate that controls your food choices? It may feel like it, but the answer is no. In fact, much of what is going on happens beyond the walls of your mouth, through interactions between your digestive system and your brain.

What are your digestive and nervous systems talking about, and how can it influence your behavior? The group of Albino Oliveira-Maia, head of the Neuropsychiatry Unit at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal, has been working on finding answers to these questions. The team’s most recent set of results – describing a novel digestive-brain axis they had identified in mice – were published today (April 6, 2020) in the scientific journal Neuron.

Read the full stoary here.


Image: Gil Costa.