Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hunger Strike

by Chad Fraley

The fascinating question of what makes us hungry is a question that usually gets a resolution but no answer. It’s a phenomenon that is built into us. Sometimes we do it to ourselves with a certain amount of Friday and Saturday night activities such as partying, but naturally hunger occurs by physiological influences, such as the obvious empty stomach. Other symptoms of hunger are gastric contractions, absence of nutrients in the small intestines and GI hormones.

Endorphins (the brains pleasure chemicals) are triggered by the smell, sight, or taste of food and enhanced by the desire of delicious foods. Smell, sight, and taste are examples of Sensory Influences which make you begin a meal. The taste of the food usually deciphers whether or not you finish a meal. Once the awareness of hunger is present, and the meal has begun, the Cognitive Influences take shape. These could be time of day, presence of others, or type of food, or even the cost, possibly free food, which is always the best. The savory glands do their job of sending signals to the brain, which release the endorphins telling us this is good and we are happy and eating.

Postingestive Influences are the reaction of food entering the stomach and GI tract. Food in the stomach triggers stretch receptors and causes the feeling of being full. Once this process has started, nutrients have entered the small intestines and releases hormones signaling gastric emptying. Postabsorptive Influences are the result of nutrients entering the blood stream. These influences signal the brain through nerves and hormones about availability, use, and storage the nutrients. As nutrients are used and stored as well as burned as energy, hunger will develop again and start the whole cycle over causing us to feel hungry.

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