A new powdered food supplement just might end your cravings. Too good to be true? Scientists from Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow had 20 volunteers drink a milkshake that either had an ingredient called inulin-propionate ester in it, or a type of fibre called inulin. Participants then had an MRI scan where they were shown pictures of low and high calorie foods.
The researchers found that, when the volunteers had consumed the milkshake with the inulin-propionate ester, they had less activity in the brain in the area of reward when looking at the high calorie foods. Those participants also rated high calorie foods as less appealing.
There was a second part to the study, as well, where participants were given a bowl of pasta and told to eat as much as they wanted. With the inulin-propionate ester they at 10% less pasta than did those participants who drank the milkshake with the inulin alone.
As Professor Gary Frost, senior author of the study from the Department of Medicine at Imperial, said, “Our previous findings showed that people who ate this ingredient gained less weight – but we did not know why. This study is filling in a missing bit of the jigsaw – and shows that this supplement can decrease activity in brain areas associated with food reward at the same time as reducing the amount of food they eat.”
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Claire Byrne, a PhD researcher also from the Department of Medicine, explained how this could be a good food additive. As she said, “If we add this to foods it could reduce the urge to consume high calorie foods.”
Adding to the discussion was Dr Douglas Morrison, author of the paper from the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre at the University of Glasgow. He said “This study illustrates very nicely that signals produced by the gut microbiota are important for appetite regulation and food choice. This study also sheds new light on how diet, the gut microbiome and health are inextricably linked adding to our understanding of how feeding our gut microbes with dietary fibre is important for healthy living.”