Food & Appetite
October 24, 2011
The recent evidence is showing that the foods you eat can stimulate or suppress appetite at the brain level. How might this impact you? Let us say that you eat refined grains like white bread which turns to sugar rapidly. There are receptors in the GI tract that recognize these foods and stimulate the release of entero-endocrine proteins (glycogen like peptide 1, gastrointestinal peptide) that are released from the l and k entero-endocrine cells in your gut. These proteins are neuro-modulators meaning they modulate and have a direct effect on function and satiety centers in the brain.
These proteins also have direct effects on the pancreas, liver and fat cells by telling them to adjust insulin sensitivity, fat metabolism and glucagon function. Specific nutrients have far reaching effects well beyond what we think of as simple calories or vitamin and mineral supply. The picture of health through food continues to thrill me. This is systems biology. Again we see that everything is connected.
The data also shows that giving glucose (sugar) intravenously has no effect on the entero-endocrine system.
In the research we find that bitter foods and vegetables in general stimulate a feeling of satiety while sugar does the opposite. We know that eating broccoli and greens is a healthy approach to life. Now we find that the system is set up to also give food cues to your brain. Why would this be?
In the early years of our existence there was probably a need to tell the brain to eat more if you ate rapidly digesting and rapidly utilized sugars. The slower digesting and utilized foods could sustain the system longer and the body responds with a decreased hunger signal. It makes evolutionary sense until you end up with a lifestyle that does not involve hunting and gathering.
If you sit in an office all day and eat flour and sugar based foods that tell your brain that you are not full, you are a polar bear in a desert. You are mismatched. Your genome and your environment do not agree with each other.
Oh and by the way, companies are now producing drugs to alter the function of these proteins to thwart the bad dietary effects of humans. It is working in early studies.
The sadness lies in the fact that this can be done through diet yet many choose not to and the drug makers win.
My take home point today: Eat for happiness and entero-edocrine stability.