New Study Reveals How Our Sense of Taste Influences the Pace of Eating/NDTV
New Study Reveals How Our Sense of Taste Influences the Pace of Eating
As a hunger and weight control researcher, my fascination lies in unraveling the intricate ways our brains signal satiety. Contrary to conventional belief that the pace of eating is solely regulated by signals from the stomach and intestines, a groundbreaking study conducted in my lab at UC San Francisco unveils a previously unknown process that kicks in as soon as we savor the taste of our food. This hidden mechanism, residing deep in the brainstem, has eluded discovery until now due to limitations in observing relevant brain activity in animals during their meals. Thanks to innovative techniques developed by my lab’s graduate student, Truong Ly, we’ve been able to witness the neural activity in mice for the first time.
Taste: The Driver of Eating Pace
Our research exposes the existence of two parallel pathways governing our eating behavior—one regulating the speed of consumption and the other determining the quantity. Surprisingly, it’s the taste of food that triggers the first pathway. While the instinct is to assume that delicious food would prompt us to eat more, our study reveals that taste also plays a role in moderating our eating pace. The first pathway, previously thought to be primarily driven by signals from the gut, is influenced by taste receptors in the mouth, signaling the brain with a simple message: “There’s food here.” Our ongoing exploration seeks to unravel the intricacies of this sensory filtering mechanism, potentially unlocking new approaches to tackle obesity.
The Role of GLP-1 in Limiting Food Intake
Delving into the second pathway, responsible for restricting the quantity consumed, we find that neurons release the hormone GLP-1, inducing a prolonged feeling of fullness. Recent obesity drugs like Ozempic and Mounjaro mimic the effects of GLP-1. Currently, my team is engaged in deciphering the mechanisms behind this sustained satiety to deepen our understanding of these pharmaceutical interventions and explore potential avenues for weight control.