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Scientists Have Identified The Brain Cells That Control Appetite

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Beef Steak on table

Steak makes people feel fuller

Scientists have finally identified the cells in the brain that detect nutrients in food and help trigger feelings of satiety, effectively suppressing and controlling our appetite. It could revolutionize dieting as we know it and help curb the obesity crisis.

Discovered by Nicholas Dale, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Warwick, the cells are called tanycytes and are found in the part of the brain that controls energy levels.

Tanycytes respond to amino acids in foods through the same receptors on our taste buds that sense the flavor of amino acids (i.e. “umami” taste), detecting nutrients in the food and directly telling the brain what has just been have eaten.

Arginine and lysine are two amino acids that react most with tanycytes and are, therefore, likely to make you feel fuller. Foods high in arginine and lysine concentration include beef sirloin steak, pork shoulder, chicken, mackerel, plums, apricots, avocadoes, lentils and almonds — eating them will activate the tanycytes and make you feel less hungry quicker than other foods.

avocado cut in half

Avocados also trigger satiety quickly

The researchers made the discovery by adding concentrated amounts of arginine and lysine into brain cells. They observed that the tanycytes detected and responded to the amino acids within thirty seconds, releasing information to the part of the brain that controls appetite and body weight.

Even more, it was found that signals from amino acids are directly detected by the umami taste receptors responsible for one of the five basic tastes humans experience. When these receptors were removed or blocked, the amino acids no longer reacted with tanycytes.

Commenting on the research, which was published in Molecular Metabolism, Professor Dale stated:

“Amino acid levels in blood and brain following a meal are a very important signal that imparts the sensation of feeling full. Finding that tanycytes, 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.”

He added that the ground-breaking discovery has opened up new possibilities for creating more effective diets and even future treatments to suppress a person’s appetite by directly activating the brain’s tanycytes. In other words, trick the mind and body into not wanting food, or at least less of it.

Obesity Crisis

More than 1.9 billion adults worldwide, 18 years and older, are considered overweight

Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, according to the World Health Organization, and it’s only getting worse. In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were considered overweight, 650 million of whom were obese. Billions of dollars are spent every year on treatment for diabetes and other conditions — cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke etc. — related to being overweight or obese.

Researchers are confident that the discovery of tanycytes and new understanding of how appetite functions could curb the growing obesity crisis.

So now that you know, do you plan on changing up your diet? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Diet & Health

Improve Your Gut Health By Eating Mangoes

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Fresh Mango

If you suffer from constipation, a mango might just be what the doctor ordered.

A new pilot study carried out by Texas A & M University and published in the the peer-reviewed journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that mangoes contain a combination of polyphenols and fiber that is more effective than an equivalent amount of fiber powder in relieving constipation.

Susanne U. Mertens-Talcott, a corresponding author of the four-week study and an associate professor in the department of nutrition and food science at Texas A & M University, stated:

“Our findings suggest that mango offers an advantage over fiber supplements because of the bioactive polyphenols contained in mangos that helped reduce markers of inflammation and change the make-up of the microbiome, which includes trillions of bacteria and other microbes living in our digestive track. Fiber supplements and laxatives may aid in the treatment of constipation, but they may not fully address all symptoms, such as intestinal inflammation.”

Researchers took 36 adult men and women with chronic constipation and randomly divided them into two groups — a mango group that ate about 300 grams of mango a day (equivalent to about 2 cups or 1 mango) and a fiber group that incorporated the equivalent amount of fiber powder (1 teaspoon or 5 grams of dietary psyllium fiber supplement) into their daily diet.

A food questionnaire was then given to the participants to assess their food intake and ensure their eating habits remained consistent (i.e. equivalent amounts of calories, carbohydrates, fiber, protein and fat) and measures of constipation severity were taken at the beginning and end of four weeks.

Their analysis revealed that while both the mango and fiber groups improved over the course of the study, mangoes proved more effective in reducing the symptoms of constipation than fiber alone.

Mango supplementation significantly improved constipation status (e.g. stool frequency, consistency and shape), increased short chain fatty acids levels, which indicate improvement of intestinal microbial composition, and helped to reduce certain biomarkers of inflammation.

Mangoes have long been know to be a rich source of dietary fiber, but Texas A & M University’s study is possibly the only study ever to be dedicated to the efficacy of the tasty fruit at relieving constipation.

But as promising as these findings are, the researchers concluded that more research is needed to determine the exact mechanism behind the protective effect of mangoes in constipation and the role mango polyphenols may play in supporting the beneficial effects of fiber.

A mango day keeps your food moving smoothly and easily, right?

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Diet & Health

Shirataki Noodles Are Very Good For You In Many Ways

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Shirataki Noodles in wood bowl

What is satiating, gluten-free, fat-free, virtually carb- and calorie-free, and potentially delicious? Shirataki Noodles! Heard of them?

The thin, translucent, gelatinous Japanese noodles (also called miracle noodles, glucomannan noodles, konjac noodles, or konnyaku noodles) are becoming increasingly popular as a low-carb, ketogenic pasta replacement, so let’s have a look at just what makes them so miraculous.

For starters, they are made from the konjac yam (AKA devil’s tongue yam or elephant yam) that’s native to China’s Yunnan province and cultivated other regions in eastern Asia. They can be purchased wet (soft) or dried at Asian markets and some supermarkets.

The Good

Shirataki noodles are composed of 97% water, 3% fiber and traces of protein, fat, and calcium, meaning they have virtually no calories and carbohydrates.

More specifically, there are four calories and roughly only one gram of net carbs in every 100 g / 3.5 oz of shirataki noodles, which is astonishing for a plant-based food. Such a nutritional profile makes them perfect for any diet, especially a low ketogenic diet.

The reason why the packaging may say “zero” calories or “zero carbs” is because, at least in the United States, Canada and elsewhere in the world, products with less than five calories and/or less than 1 gram of carbs, protein and fat are allowed to to be labeled as zero.

Because Shirataki noodles are mostly water and fiber, they leave you feeling more satiated than comparable high-carb, low-fiber foods like pasta and less likely to reach for that bag of chips. Moreover, the noodles provide a unique type of fiber that is rarely found in western diets.

Replacing any high-carb food like pasta and rice with a virtually zero calorie and zero carb food like shirataki noodles could do wonders for your weight and overall health, manly because of the glucomannan they contain.

Studies have found that glucomannan, a soluble fiber that comprises 40% of the dry weight of the konjac plant, has many properties that are conducive to weight-loss and better cardiovascular health. In addition to promoting satiety by keeping you fuller for longer and with less food, it has a number of other benefits:

Shirataki noodles are truly miraculous, and you have little to lose by including them in your diet. However, there are a few potential drawbacks that you should be aware of.

The “Bad”

Shirataki noodles have very little micronutrients, and as beneficial as glucomannan may be, it expands rapidly and can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water, so much water, in fact, that emptying a single glucomannan capsule into a small glass of water turn the entire thing into gel. This helps trigger satiety, but it can also cause discomfort.

If glucomannan expands before reaching the stomach, it may cause choking or blockage of the throat and esophagus. But this is an issue that can be prevented by washing it down with 1-2 glasses of water or other liquid.

Glucomannan has also been found to cause bloating, flatulence, and soft stools or diarrhea. It can potentially reduce the bioavailability of oral medications and supplements; if that happens to you, try taking your medication at least 4 hours after or one hour before consuming it.

It is important to note, however, that all of these side effects stem from glucomannan itself and not Shirataki noodles. The fact that the noodles are usually saturated with water and sauce when eaten means you probably won’t experience any of these side-effects.

The Verdict

There has been an outpouring of research showning that Shirataki Noodles are an excellent addition to any weight-loss diet, thanks mostly to the glucomannan they contain. Glucomannan is gluten-free, and as a soluble fiber, absorbs water in the stomach to make you feel fuller for longer.

Glucomannan is an effective weight-loss supplement, and Shirataki Noodles are versatile, keto-friendly and gluten-free alternative to regular noodles, spaghetti and pasta, rice and any other staple rich in carbs, starch and calories. However, as with just about every weight-loss strategy, neither works in isolation. For you to achieve lasting results, you need to make a permanent change to your lifestyle.

Are you up for the challenge?

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Diet & Health

10 Signs You Are Allergic To Gluten

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Long Bread

Intolerance to gluten has been a running buzz in the healthy living circles for the past decade, and there is no sign of that changing. The condition can lead to detrimental health effects relating to the gut, skin and even nervous system, with the most common symptoms being depression, fatigue, gastrointestinal problems and pain.

Gluten is a protein found in such grains as wheat, rye, barley, spelt and is what makes bread light and fluffy and dough a sticky texture. Wheat and rye are most commonly found in cereal and bread, as well as in pasta in the case of the former and even beer, salad dressings and soups with the latter. Barley is often used in stock feed products.

Not only do all of these grains contain gluten, but they can also cause insensitivity to gluten. Unfortunately, they are a common part of the diets of millions, if not billions, of people around the world.

Gluten intolerance has also been associated with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that can cause damage to the small intestine, making it harder for the body to absorb nutrients. Around 1 out of 100 people suffer from the condition in the United States alone!

Fortunately, symptoms of gluten intolerance subside after removing gluten from one’s diet. Here are 10 of the most usual signs that you may be suffering from it:

1. Unexpected Weight Gain

Caused by malabsorption and gut permeability from the systemic inflammation triggered by the protein, unexpected weight gain is related to gluten intolerance. Sufferers who eliminate gluten from their diet will notice an improvement in their weight.

2. Brain Fog

In an article published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, one titled “Gluten sensitivity as a neurological illness,” researchers found that immunoglobins (AKA antibodies) react abnormally to gluten and the reaction contributes to reduced cognitive function.

3. Abnormal Immune function

The IgA antibodies, which are found in the gastrointestinal tract and saliva, are the body’s primary response to colds, flu or other illnesses. If you are gluten sensitive, these antibodies have a counter effect on your immune system, inhibiting its ability to properly defend against such illnesses.

4. Headaches, Migraines

A recent study discovered that 56 percent of the gluten intolerant participants suffered from migraines, while only 14% of the control group had the condition.

5. Dental Issues

A study published in the BMS Gastroenterology found that there is a connection between gluten intolerance and “aphthous stomatitis”, a condition characterized by the repeated formation of mouth ulcers and canker sores in otherwise healthy individuals. Malabsorption can cause gluten intolerant people to also have low calcium levels, which undermines oral health.

6. Skin Problems

Malabsorption resulting from gluten intolerance has been associated with eczema, acne and dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), with symptoms including redness, itching, rashes, burning and blisters. Described by the Gluten Intolerance Group as “a chronic disease of the skin marked by groups of watery, itchy blisters that might resemble pimples or blisters,” DH is a very difficult condition to have.

7. Joint And Muscle Aches

Researchers have long known that people with autoimmune forms of arthritis are at higher risk for celiac disease, and a growing body of research now finds that here is a possible connection between gluten and non-pathologic joint pain. When a person with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity eats gluten, the immune system jumps into action, causing inflammation.

8. Fatigue And Exhaustion

This symptom is similar to brain fog in that the mechanism involved are still a mystery. There is little scientific research on the the purported correlation between fatigue/exhaustion and gluten intolerance; however, the fact that fatigue is one of the most frequent symptoms mentioned by those with celiac or gluten sensitivity has led medical experts believe gluten intolerance can cause fatigue and exhaustion through inflammation likely because of de-allocation of the energy reserves.

9. Hormone Imbalances

Gluten is a known to disrupt a number of hormones, including estrogen, and has been linked to Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), abnormal PMS, and unexplained infertility. According a article published by the Gluten Free Society, the removal of gluten often resolves hormone imbalance.

10. Anxiety, Depression, ADD, Mood Swings

Depression and anxiety symptoms have been linked to gluten consumption in celiac sufferers, while one small study found that excess gluten possibly depleted the serotonin levels of non-celiac suffers, leading to feelings of depression.

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