Appetite Experiment (03:26)
Humans spend 67 minutes eating daily; food dominates our thoughts when we are hungry. Dr. Michael Mosley measures his saliva production when seeing and smelling preserved eggs and chocolate cake. Saliva contains digestive enzymes.
Chocolate Cravings (04:54)
In Chazuta, Peru, James Wong learns about the process of transforming cacao beans into chocolate; 25 scent molecules produce its aroma. Cocoa butter is an essential ingredient.
Fats in Nutrition (03:25)
Fat was a critical energy source before agriculture; eating it triggers pleasure centers in the brain. In Afyon Province, Turkey, Mosley visits a farm where water buffalo receive oil-rich poppies after opium is extracted.
Sensory Fat Experience (04:28)
Learn how water buffalo milk is turned into kaymak, a dessert eaten in Turkey. Mosley explains how the brain responds to its viscosity via tongue touch and taste receptors.
Sugar and Fat Combination (02:14)
Our brains crave foods with equal amounts of calories coming from sugar and fat. In nature, this combination is only found in breastmilk.
Cream Tea Cravings (02:53)
Mosley demonstrates areas of his brain activated when eating foods with equal ratios of calories coming from sugar and fat. The amygdala’s emotional response to food triggers the reward pathway and desire center.
Caffeine Addiction (04:25)
Coffee can amplify the effect of foods that trigger the reward pathway. Caffeine in the coffee plant's flowers attracts bees and helps them to learn and remember floral scents. Researchers believe humans experience a similar behavioral effect.
Experimenting with Food (02:51)
Our relationship with food is complex, but the human brain is adaptable. In Turkey, sheep's brain salad is a delicacy. Comparatively larger frontal lobes allow us to develop diverse cuisines.
Humans learn to overcome disgust and pain when acquiring new tastes. James visits a Mexico City market selling chilies. Their spiciness triggers the TRPV1 receptor that produces pain. Birds are immune to this effect and spread chili seeds in the wild.
Chili Eating Contest (08:09)
Mosley and Wong participate in a Bristol competition consuming increasingly hotter chilies; heat is measured in Scoville units. Capsaicin triggers a fight-or-flight response; endorphins lessen the pain. Casein in milk helps neutralize capsaicin.
Alcohol Production (06:03)
Alcohol passes through the blood-brain barrier; most cultures have invented alcoholic drinks. In Tarapoto, Peru, the Concha people produce masato from yuca root and saliva that breaks down starch into sugar. Learn about the fermentation process.
Sensory Alcohol Experience (05:53)
Moley samples masato with Concha villagers; alcohol affects gaba neurotransmitters in different brain areas. In moderation, alcohol makes us more sociable. Research is uncovering our evolutionary relationship to food.
Credits: Food on the Brain (00:0-33)
Credits: Food on the Brain
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