Why can’t we stop eating some foods or snacks even though we’re not actually hungry? A US research team has made an astonishing discovery that could completely change our understanding of eating habits and weight control. Our sense of taste determines the pace of the meal from the first bite.
A working group at the University of California – San Francisco (UCSF) led by Professor Zachary Knight recently presented the surprising findings of a study in the renowned journal “Nature” that show how our sense of taste controls our eating behavior.
How our sense of taste is involved in satiety
Most scientists currently assume that the feeling of satiety is primarily controlled by signals from the stomach. However, the latest research from UCSF paints a different picture. Accordingly, our sense of taste plays a crucial role in regulating our food intake.
The balancing act between desire and satiety
As part of the study, the research team examined brainstem activity while eating. The results reveal for the first time how quickly and to what extent taste impressions influence our eating behavior. This connection sheds a completely new light on the way our satiety works.
“We have uncovered a logic by which the brainstem controls how quickly and how much we eat using two different types of signals, one coming from the mouth and one much later from the gut,” explains Professor Knight Study results.
An interaction between the brain, stomach and intestines
The brain therefore gives concrete signals while eating that causes us to either want to eat more or eat more slowly. This fine balance provides deeper insights into the dynamics of satiety and opens the door to new concepts of weight loss.
“Together, these two signals form a forward and backward loop,” Knight explains. One signal is intended to slow down food intake, while the other signal motivates you to continue eating. The signals from the stomach finally announce: “Ok, now I’m full!”
New concepts for weight loss
According to the research team, the study results open up completely new possibilities for losing weight. On the one hand, active ingredients could directly influence the satiety signals or, on the other hand, nutritional concepts could be developed that are aimed at sending out the satiety signals that are appropriate to the situation.
What role does the intestine play in satiety?
The study also provides initial insights into the fact that signals from the intestines also influence our appetite. In another study, the team now wants to examine in more detail what role the intestine plays in appetite and satiety. (vb)