Even the most strong willed dieter may give in to temptation when the hunger pangs are hitting hard therefore foods that help keep us feeling fuller for longer are a key to keeping a diet on track. Scientists from the University of Warwick have, for the first time, identified cells in the brain that detect nutrients in food which trigger feelings of satiety. In other words they send signals to the brain that tell us we've had enough to eat. The cells are called tanycytes and are stimulated by some foods more than others.
Hunger busting foods contain amino acids arginine and lysine
These hunger busting foods include chicken, mackerel, pork shoulder, beef sirloin, plums, apricots, avocados, lentils and avocados. People do not feel as hungry after eating these foods because of the amino acids they contain - arginine and lysine - both of which activate tanycytes.
Dr Nicholas Dale, Professor of Neuroscience at Warwick, said:
“Amino acid levels in blood and brain following a meal are a very important signal that imparts the sensation of feeling full.“
Finding that tancytes, located at the centre of the brain region that controls body weight, directly sense amino acids has very significant implications for coming up with new ways to help people to control their body weight within healthy bounds.”
The researchers discovered their findings by adding concentrated amounts of the amino acids arginine and lysine into brain cells - they could see within half a minute that the tanycytes had detected and responded to the amino acids, releasing information to the part of the brain that controls appetite and body weight.
Brain plays a key role when dieting
It is well known that protein is one of the best nutrients for staving off hunger due to the fact that it breaks down slowly in the digestive system, and therefore does not cause the rise in blood sugar that leaves us craving more food soon after a meal. However it is becoming more and more evident that the brain is also very important in dieting - the amino acids' effect on the brain would stop people feeling hungry without any effect on the digestive system.
A diet pill in the making?
These new findings open up new possibilities for creating more effective diet as well as paving the way to create drugs that suppress appetite by directly activating the brains' tanycytes.
This sort of research is becoming increasingly important to western society as we see rapid increases in overweight and obesity rates. Nearly two thirds of the UK population is currently overweight or obese and this figure is set to rise in the decades to come. Researchers say that increased understanding of how appetite functions could help to halt this growing crisis.