Fermentable Carbohydrates May Help Fight Against Obesity

Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
A high-fat diet containing fermentable carbohydrates helped protect against obesity in mice; however, this protection was lost when an FFAR2 receptor was not present, according to a study published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology.

Obesity is currently one of the most serious global threats to human health, determined by genetic background, diet, and lifestyle,” said lead study author Gavin Bewick. “We know that supplementing your diet with non-digestible carbohydrates reduce[s] appetite and body weight gain, but in this study we demonstrate for the first time the essential role of the FFAR2 receptor in enabling specific dietary constituents to reduce food intake and protect against obesity.”

The results of the study showed that mice with the FFAR2 receptor fed this diet experienced an increase of 130% in the satiety-inducing gut hormone peptide YY, and an increased density of cells that contain PYY, which resulted in an increased feeling of fullness.

“With this discovery, we can start to look at whether we can use diet or pharmaceutical means to change the cellular makeup of the gut in order to treat a host of disorders,” Bewick said.

These findings could help researchers better understand the link between appetite regulation and diet, according to the study.

“This is a major step forward in understanding the relationship between diet and appetite regulation,” said co-lead study author Gary Frost. “Until a few years ago, dietary fiber was thought of as inert and having very little effect on physiology. So the fact [that] it actually has a major impact on cells that help control appetite regulation in the colon is amazing.

“Our challenge now is to translate this into a technology that we can apply to humans. We need to understand how we can use the knowledge and insight gained to develop food systems that are attractive to a large percentage of the population.”

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