A new study from the Imperial College of London and the University of Glasgow revealed that consuming a certain type of powdered based on a molecule produced by bacteria in the gut has the potential to reduce cravings for high-calorie foods such as pizza, chocolate cake.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests that a certain food supplement called inulin-propionate ester can lessen the activities in the areas of the brain linked to reward, leading to the suppression of high-calorie food cravings.
Propionate is a compound released by the gut when it digests the fiber inulin. This compound has the ability to signal the brain to reduce appetite. However, the amount of propionate produced the intestine alone is not enough to show significant difference in cravings.
“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,” explained Gary Frost, professor at the Department of Medicine of Imperial College of London and lead author of the study, in a press release.
For the study, researchers enrolled 20 healthy non-obese men. The participants were asked to consume a milkshake containing either inulin-propionate ester or inulin. After drinking the milkshakes, each participant underwent a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
While on MRI scan, researchers showed pictures of various low or high calorie foods such as salad, fish and vegetables or chocolate, cake and pizza to the participants.
Researchers found out that participants who drank milkshakes with the inulin-propionate ester have lesser activities in their caudate and the nucleus accumbens, an area in the center of the brain associated with food cravings and motivation to get food. Also, participants who consumed inulin-propionate ester supplement rated the high-calorie food less appealing.
Furthermore, participants who took inulin-propionate ester supplements ate 10 percent less when they were given a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce, compared when they consume the inulin-only milkshake.
Their findings support the result of their 2013 study, which revealed that overweight people who consumed inulin-propionate ester supplement everyday managed to gained less weight compared to those who added only inulin in their daily meals.