A powdered food supplement could help reduce cravings for high calorie foods, research finds.
The supplement — inulin-propionate ester — causes the gut to signal the brain to reduce appetite.
It is based on a natural process where a dietary fibre called inulin sets off signals to the brain.
The inulin-propionate ester, though, strengthens the signals.
Professor Gary Frost, study co-author, 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.”
Brain scans showed that after consuming the inulin-propionate ester, areas of the brain critical to food cravings showed less activity.
Participants also rated the high calorie foods as less appealing after consuming the inulin-propionate ester.
Professor Frost said:
“The amount of inulin-propionate ester used in this study was 10g — which previous studies show increases propionate production by 2.5 times.
To get the same increase from fibre alone, we would need to eat around 60g a day. At the moment, the UK average is 15g.”
Dr Claire Byrne, the study’s first author, said:
“If we add this to foods it could reduce the urge to consume high calorie foods.
…some people’s gut bacteria may naturally produce more propionate than others, which may be why some people seem more naturally predisposed to gain weight.”
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The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Byrne et al., 2016).