(NaturalHealth365) In a just-published study, researchers reveal that they are one step closer to solving the mystery of why dietary fiber is so effective at suppressing appetite – an “anti-appetite molecule” is produced in the body when fiber is digested.
Fiber from plant products offers a bonanza of benefits
It may not be glamorous or exotic. It doesn’t come to us by way of some far-flung country or ancient healing system. It even has an unappealing alternate name – “roughage.”
Yet dietary fiber – found in such everyday foods as apples, celery, berries and dark leafy green vegetables – has health-promoting qualities that are simply outstanding. Researchers say it can precipitate weight loss, reduce appetite and even help prevent cancer and heart disease.
Satisfy your appetite with acetate
In an animal study published in the April 2014 issue of Nature Communications, researchers explored the mechanism by which fiber is broken down by bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, and the resultant production of a fatty acid called acetate.
Using PET scans and a cutting-edge technique known as High Resolution Magic Angle Spinning, the team tracked the pathway of the acetate from the colon to the hypothalamus in the brain – where it caused the firing of an appetite-suppressing neuron known as pro-opiomelanocortin, or POMPC.
And acetate kept its appetite-cutting effect whether scientists injected it into the brain, colon or bloodstream. Researchers concluded that acetate could be used as a non-surgical option to manage weight gain and combat obesity, and called for the development of a delivery system for acetate that is safe, effective and appropriate for humans.
Inulin helps to create appetite-cutting acetate
The study also investigated the effects of inulin. Not to be confused with insulin, inulin is a soluble fiber found in beets, bananas and the roots of chicory, a native edible plant that may be brewed to create a coffee substitute.
Two groups of mice were offered identical high-fat diets, but only one was given inulin. The inulin group ate less food and gained less weight than the non-inulin group, and also had higher amounts of acetate in their intestines.
This is not the first research indicating that inulin can reduce appetite and caloric intake. In a 2009 study published in Journal of the American Dietary Association, researchers found that adding inulin to low-calorie yogurt drinks potentiated their appetite-cutting effects.
Insufficient dietary fiber is a cause of obesity
According to researchers, humans are ill-adapted for our modern-day diets, which are high in processed foods and low in dietary fiber. During the Paleolithic era, humans ate close to 100 grams of fiber a day; the average fiber intake for a 21st-century human is closer to a paltry 15 grams – a situation that researchers say is a primary factor in the current worldwide obesity epidemic.
What are some good ways to ramp up dietary fiber intake?
Unless you have a medical condition that precludes it, it is almost never a bad idea to try to increase the amount of fiber in your daily diet. To get more inulin, put bananas, asparagus, beets, wheat and rye on the menu – these are all good sources of this fermentable polyfructose fiber.
Healthy amounts of other types of beneficial dietary fiber – such as pectin and gum – can be found in a huge array of natural, organic plant foods, including raspberries, beans and lentils of all kinds, apples, strawberries and citrus fruits, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, quinoa, buckwheat, oats, bell peppers and plums.
Of course, moderation and common sense should prevail. Eating very large amounts of fiber – over 50 grams a day – can cause bowel obstructions in susceptible individuals. It can also cause dehydration.
So, if you decide to try to double your fiber intake, it’s a good idea to double up on water as well. Increased fiber intake can also lead to bloating and intestinal discomfort, but symptoms should resolve as your body adjusts.
It turns out that the conventional, and sensible, advice on weight loss – consuming abundant fresh fruits and vegetables, in addition to increasing physical activity – really is well-founded. But it took the use of high-tech scanning techniques, and a new study, to tell us why. Increasing the amount of acetate in the body may well prove to be an effective and natural weapon in the battle against obesity.
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