Updated: Oct 18, 2021
Hunger and the Brain
There are many factors that can affect how the brain functions, but one factor that is often overlooked is hunger. There are two types of hunger, fasting and post-prandial. Fasting hunger occurs when a person has not eaten for a certain period of time, while post-prandial hunger occurs after eating a meal or snack. Both types have different effects on the brain and learning ability. In this blog post we will discuss these differences.
What is Fasting?
Fasting hunger occurs when a person has not eaten for a certain period of time. This fasting can range from overnight fasts to fasting prior to surgery or medical procedures. People who experience fasting may report feeling hungrier than they do after eating, even though their stomach is empty and should be growling because it does not have anything in it.
What is Prandial Hunger?
Prandial hunger occurs after a person has eaten and it peaks about 20 minutes to one hour after eating. It is the type of hunger that most people are familiar with, as it usually occurs in our everyday lives. People who experience prandial hunger will report feeling hungrier than they did before eating.
How Does Fasting and Prandial Hunger Effect the Brain
Both types of hunger have different effects on brain function. Fasting for short periods of time can actually help brain functions, while prandial hunger can have the the opposite effect. When a person experiences fasting their brain begins to use glucose for energy instead of using ketones in order to preserve blood sugar levels that are necessary for brain cell survival . This process preserves memory and learning ability, which is why it helps them when they need information stored away temporarily. Also, during fasting the brain releases growth factors that cause new connections between neurons in order to increase cognitive capacity later on , which allows people who fasted before an exam or test to remember more information than those who did not fast at all. Prandial hunger works just the opposite by decreasing brain activity.
That being said the brain will eventually work less efficiently when it is hungry for longer periods of time. This means that both types of hunger do not allow people to think as clearly, which can affect their ability to remember or learn information . It also affects the digestive system by decreasing stomach acid secretion and slowing down contractions of the intestines , which explains why some people feel bloated after eating a large meal.
How Can We Use These Findings?
The effects fasting has on memory are very important in situations where learning needs to be improved (for example before an exam or test). If someone knows they will need to retain certain information temporarily then fasting prior would help them better recall this information later on because fasting helps preserve memories until food becomes available again.
However, learning and memory abilities decrease when the brain is hungry for longer periods of time. This implies that it would be better to eat a small snack in between meals rather than fasting if someone needs their full attention on something without thinking about food all day long .
Summary: Hunger can affect people's ability to learn or recall information depending on how long they have been hungry. This can have long lasting impacts on the cognitive development of school aged children.