Scientists at the University of Adelaide have confirmed that a high-fat diet might impair crucial receptors localized in the stomach to signal the message of fullness to the brain and fight obesity. The findings are directly tied to another discovery that spicy foods such as hot chili peppers interact with the nerves of the stomach, leading people to feel full faster while eating.
The study was recently published in the PLOS ONE journal and combines the laboratory work of researchers from the University’s Centre for Nutrition and Gastrointestinal Diseases wherein they investigated the link between hot chili pepper receptors (TRPV1) that exist in the stomach and the sensation of fullness.
“The stomach stretches when it is full, which activates nerves in the stomach to tell the body that it has had enough food. We found that this activation is regulated through hot chili pepper or TRPV1 receptors,” explained the Associate Professor Amanda Page, who is the lead author of the paper and a Senior Research Fellow in the University of Adelaide’s School of Medicine.
“It is known from previous studies that capsaicin, found in hot chillies, reduces food intake in humans. And what we’ve discovered is that deletion of TRPV1 receptors dampens the response of gastric nerves to stretch – resulting in a delayed feeling of fullness and the consumption of more food. Therefore part of the effect of capsaicin on food intake may be mediated via the stomach. We also found that TRPV1 receptors can be disrupted in high fat diet induced obesity,” she added.
Dr. Stephen Kentish, another researcher involved in the project, said that these findings will have a major impact in further studies and in the advancement of new therapies of obesity. By better understanding the TRPV1 receptor pathway and how the consumption of capsaicin — the key compound in chili peppers — directly constricts the stomach’s nerves, future obesity therapies could exploit this mechanism of action to reduce hunger and limit caloric intake. Kentish, a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Fellow at the University of Adelaide’s School of Medicine, reports that the “next stage of research will involve investigation of the mechanisms behind TRPV1 receptor activation with the aim of developing a more palatable therapy. We will also do further work to determine why a high-fat diet de-sensitises TRPV1 receptors and investigate if we can reverse the damage.”
In other recent obesity research news, researchers at The John B. Pierce Laboratory and Yale University School of Medicine discovered that obese individuals have a greater ability to vividly imagine food and odors than leaner individuals. The findings were published in the journal Appetite and the study is entitled “Greater perceived ability to form vivid mental images in individuals with high compared to low BMI.”