A new emerging supplement promises to switch off cravings for high-calorie foods on the brain. It is believed that if a person eats a type of powdered food supplement, it can minimize cravings for high-calorie foods like pizza, cupcakes, and chocolate.
A new study suggests that this new supplement, which was made of a molecule produced by bacteria in the gut, is really beneficial. A group of scientists from Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow requested 20 volunteers to consume a milkshake that contains either an inulin fibre or an ingredient called inulin-propionate ester.
Stomach hunger and mind hunger are two different things. The former is like a one-line analog phone while the latter is similar to a high-end mobile phone with all the high-tech features.
The mind hunger is not important when it comes to survival. Actually, many scientists greatly discredited the premise that food cravings are human bodies’ ways of nagging people that they need a specific kind of nutrient. That is, unless one thinks about chocolate chip cookies, bacon, and macaroni and cheese to offer valuable nutrition.
In general, people crave foods with high calories and fats because the brain thinks it is necessary. Sweet, salty and sugary foods release opioids into the bloodstream. Opioids are attached to the brain and give the feelings of pressure and even a very mild euphoria. In this way, a human body, at temporarily, gives thanks for ingesting a box of doughnuts or slices of pizza. This effect, contained in the fat of red meat, might be one of the reasons a person may encounter some ordeals maintaining a vegan lifestyle.
Studies in the past have shown that the bacteria release propionate (a compound) when they digest the inulin fiber, which sends a message to the brain to curb appetite. However, the inulin-propionate ester supplement releases more propionate release in the intestine compared to inulin alone.
Results of the study
The volunteers who participated in the above study underwent MRI scan after drinking the milkshakes. They were shown with images of many different kinds of low or high-calorie items like fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, salad, pizza, cake, and chocolate.
The team of the scientists discovered and identified that when the participants drank the milkshake with inulin-propionate ester, they had less activity in the parts of the brain associated to reward. But this data is only limited when looking at the high-calorie foods.
These portions called the caudate and the nucleus accumbens, located in the center of the human brain, have formerly been linked to food cravings as well as enthusiasm to long for a food.
Furthermore, the participants had to rate how tempting they found the food items. The outcomes showed that when they consumed the milkshake containing the inulin-propionate ester supplement they rated the high-calorie items as less interesting.
In the 2nd part of the study, the participants were given a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce. They were asked to consume as much as they can. This part of the study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’s July edition. When the volunteers consumed the inulin-propionate ester milkshake, they ate 10% less pasta compared when they consumed the milkshake with inulin alone.
The same team did an earlier study. It was published 2013. In that research, they discovered that overweight participants who added the inulin-propionate ester supplement to their meals every day gained less weight over the six months. The results were comparable to those volunteers who only added inulin to their foods. It was a big revelation that motivated the scientists to conduct more studies. It provided a glimpse of hope to those who are overweight and obese. Having a supplement with such amazing features will help millions of people to make healthier options.
The senior author of the study of the Department of Medicine at Imperial, Professor Gary Frost, mentioned that their previous findings demonstrated that people who consumed this type of ingredient gained less weight.
Unfortunately, they cannot figure out the exact reason for such event. This study is supplying the missing pieces in the puzzle. This also reveals that this kind of supplement can decrease brain activities in the areas of the brain linked with food rewards. At the same time, it helps limit the amount of food they consume.
Professor Frost also added that consuming sufficient amount of fiber to naturally generate same quantities of propionate would be tricky and hard. The quantity of inulin-propionate ester incorporated in this study was 10 grams. The previous studies showed increases the production of propionate by 2.5 times. To get the same result from the fiber alone, a person needs to eat approximately 60 grams every day. At this moment in time, 15 grams is the average in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Claire Byrne, of the Department of Medicine made it clear that using inulin-propionate ester as a food ingredient might help you thwart weight gain. Is this is added to foods, it could diminish the urge to eat high calorie foods. Moreover, the gut bacteria of some individuals may naturally make more propionate than others. This may be the reason some seem more naturally inclined to gain weight.
The co-senior author of the study, Dr. Tony Goldstone, added that their study adds to their earlier brain imaging studies in individuals who underwent gastric bypass surgery to address obesity. These explain that changing how a person’s gut works can alter not only the appetite in generals. Also, it changes how the brain reacts when they spot high-calorie foods, and how tempting they consider the foods to be.
The author of the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre at the University of Glasgow, Dr. Douglas Morrison, said that they developed the propionate ester to explore and examine the function of propionate made by the microbiota in the health of humans. This shows clearly that signals created by the gut microbiota are essential for food choice and appetite regulation. This also clears the cloud on how diet, the gut microbiome, and health are inevitably connected to our understanding of how nourishing out gut bacteria with dietary fibre is imperative for healthy living.
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and National Institute for Health Research Imperial Biomedical Research Centre supported and funded this study.