The Post-Meal Brain: How Digestion Impacts Cognitive Function
After a meal, the brain shifts its focus from abstract thinking to digestion. As digestion begins, the brain undergoes a number of changes to help the body process the incoming nutrients. In addition to slowing down activity in the prefrontal cortex, the brain increases the activity of certain hormones and neurotransmitters to facilitate digestion and absorption. For example, when food is detected in the gastrointestinal tract, the brain releases cholecystokinin (CCK), which helps to regulate the amount of food eaten as well as the speed at which it is digested (Shi, Ha, & Zhang, 2021). The brain also releases hormones that help regulate energy use, such as leptin and ghrelin (Liu et al., 2016). Leptin is released when the body has an adequate amount of energy, while ghrelin signals hunger. These hormones help the brain modulate energy levels and food intake, which is important for maintaining a healthy body weight. Furthermore, the brain also releases dopamine in response to eating, which helps to reinforce the behaviour of eating (Garcia-Segura et al., 2019). Cont…
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