Publishing in the journal Cell, researchers from the Universite de Lyon in France have now mapped out the signals that travel between your gut and your brain to generate the feeling of satiety after eating a protein-rich meal. Understanding this back and forth loop between the brain and gut may pave the way for future approaches in the treatment and prevention of obesity.
The critical finding reported by the research team was that proteins stimulate 'mu-opioid receptors' (MOR's, which also bind morphine) on nerves found in the walls of the portal vein, the major blood vessel that drains blood from the gut. Researchers found that peptides, the products of digested dietary proteins, block MOR's to curb appetite. The peptides send signals to the brain that are then transmitted back to the gut to stimulate the intestine to release glucose and suppress the desire to eat.
The lead study author, Dr. Gilles Mithieux concluded "These findings explain the satiety effect of dietary protein, which is a long-known but unexplained phenomenon... they provide a novel understanding of the control of food intake and of hunger sensations, which may offer novel approaches to treat obesity in the future." Nutritionists recommend consuming a natural source of protein with each meal and avoidance of sugary treats and refined carbohydrates, as well as between meal snacks. Good sources of protein include nuts, seeds, legumes and lean chicken, eggs and beef (always select free-range, organically fed choices and limit to no more than ten percent of total calories consumed) to aid weight management practices.
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