Diet changes can change your cravings. Well, at least in fruit flies, a new University of California Santa Barbara study shows.
Nutritionists and health enthusiasts have been saying this for years, but Craig Montell, Duggan Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at UC Santa Barbara, has conducted a study with fruit flies that demonstrate how your diet can alter your taste preferences. The university published a news release today stating the results of the study were officially published in Nature Neuroscience.
"This study was inspired by trying to understand how it is an animal learns to like foods they didn't like before," said Montell in the release. "We want to understand taste proclivity because it is a universal behavior in all animals."
Actually what the study showed was that the fruit flies could become addicted to camphor, which is an additive in ice cream and other desserts. Interestingly, camphor is generally not pleasant to the senses. Fruit flies only live about two months, so addictive diet behaviors in them are considered after a few days. The more camphor they were fed, the more they wanted. "For humans this might translate to mean that repeated exposure to disliked food over a period of weeks or months may result in the eventual acceptance of that food." Scientists suspected in the fruit fly that the mechanism may be calcium related as there is an influx of calcium into the cells when other pathways are suppressed. This, said Montell in the release, is a question for the future.
Montell's team also reversed the process. Fruit flies that were on a camphor-free diet, were not inclined to accept it in their diet.
"Our work raises the possibility that reversible changes in taste receptor cells, as a result of long-term exposure to a specific diet, could contribute to a similar type of phenomenon in humans," concluded Montell in the release. "If we come to understand this really well, someday it could be harnessed by the food industry."