Fiber helps control weight by releasing anti-appetite molecule acetate

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(NaturalNews) Drug companies have tried to develop anti-obesity drugs in the past, failing miserably in the 90s with the infamous fen-phen pill which ultimately caused heart valve problems. The most recent anti-obesity drug company concoction is Qsymia, which is a combination of two older drugs (phentermine and topirimate) regurgitated into a new pill that artificially stimulates appetite suppression. It's apparent and well documented that these pharmacological manipulations beckon other health problems in the body. In search for a silver bullet, medical scientists bypass basic common sense lifestyle eating habits that can play an enormous role in weight modulation.

A new international study led by the Imperial College London and the Medical Research Council sheds light on the topic, showing how one specific eating habit can assist with appetite and weight control. The findings show that dietary fiber from whole foods has an appetite-suppressing effect, prompting the release of a molecule in the gut known as acetate. Traveling through the blood, to the brain, acetate signals neurons to halt hunger signals in the hypothalamus.

This is why many processed foods make one feel hungrier -- they contain less fiber. Whole foods, on the other hand, contain natural fiber that ultimately makes one feel fuller.

"Our research has shown that the release of acetate is central to how fibre [suppresses] our appetite and this could help scientists to tackle overeating," said Professor Gary Frost, who led the study.

Inulin fiber ferments, releasing large amounts of anti-hunger molecule acetate

Real fiber from plants and vegetables is digested by colon bacteria and fermented, producing acetate in the process. Acetate travels from the colon to the brain, bringing satiating messages to the hypothalamus region of the brain.

Professor Frost summed up the consequences of today's typical fiberless diet: "The average diet in Europe today contains about 15 g of fibre per day. In stone-age times we ate about 100g per day but now we favour low-fibre ready-made meals over vegetables, pulses and other sources of fibre. Unfortunately our digestive system has not yet evolved to deal with this modern diet and this mismatch contributes to the current obesity epidemic. Our research has shown that the release of acetate is central to how fibre [suppresses] our appetite and this could help scientists to tackle overeating."

In the study, dietary fiber in the form of inulin was fed to mice on a high-fat diet. Inulin derived from sugar beets and chicory was added to some of the rodent's diets. In the end, the mice that consumed inulin gained less weight and consumed less food overall. The natural inulin fiber rendered high measurements of acetate in the rodent's colons. The researchers followed up the observation by tracking the acetate using positron emission tomography scans. The acetate traveled from the colon to the liver, to the heart and finally to the hypothalamus region of the brain.

As the acetate accumulated and metabolized in the hypothalamus, it triggered a series of chemical events that fired up pro-opiomelanocortin neurons. These specific neurons were activated for a specific purpose -- to suppress appetite. A high-fiber diet of fruits and vegetables essentially keeps hunger pains at bay, through a fiber fermentation process in the colon that sends acetate signals to neurons in the hypothalamus.

Cellulose "wood pulp" fiber dominates processed foods, goes undigested

In an investigation spearheaded by food researcher and activist Vani Hari, many processed foods were actually found to contain an indigestible type of fiber added by food manufacturers.

In fact, a food label that reads "added fiber" may actually be referring to wood pulp fiber instead, which is denoted on the label as cellulose. Other wood pulp fiber label nicknames include carboxymethyl cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose and cellulose gum.

Since this wood pulp cannot be digested by the body, it has no caloric or nutritional value. The empty calories pass through without an acetate-forming fermentation process. In essence, processed foods may be intentionally or unintentionally designed to make a person feel hungrier for those same foods. Since the appetite is not suppressed, many may be prompted to overeat and gain weight over time.

Some of the processed food products containing cellulose instead of real fiber include Kraft shredded cheese, Aunt Jemima syrup, McDonald's filet of fish, Jimmy Dean sausage and Nestle hot chocolate, and the list goes on.

To learn more about cellulose and how it may trap people into feeling hungrier than before, go to

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