A recent study conducted by a team of scientists from the French University of Rouen has found that hunger is influenced by bacteria found in our gut, these microscopic cells dictating to our brain when we are basically full and cannot eat another bite, independently of the amount of food consumed.
The human body lives in a sort of symbiosis with around one trillion bacteria, most of them benign, found either on our body or inside of it. These microscopic organisms benefit from a place to stay and constant nutrition that we provide and in turn they give us special proteins or other services that help our body function at normal parameters.
This specific bacteria that the study focused on are located in our abdominal region, in the stomach and the lower parts of the digestive system. These microscopic organism work in direct tandem with our brain, signaling it when we had enough to eat by eliminating a specific protein directly into the blood stream.
This occurs phenomenon occurs about 20 minutes after we have finished our meal. During this time, these bacteria gather nutrition from what we ate and multiply rapidly in order to repopulate our gut after their numbers fell when eliminated from the body through defecation.
When a certain number of bacteria is reached, basically when they run out of room, a protein signals the brain that it should stop eating, giving us the feeling of fullness or even exhaustion which occurs after a hearty meal.
The research group studied the exact effect of these E. Coli bacteria by injecting lab rats with the specific protein which these micro organisms release after the meal was consumed. This protein was identified by observing both E. Coli bacteria which were satiated after the 20 minutes necessary for a meal to be partially consumed and the ones who weren’t subjected to any food.
After the protein injection was administered, the lab mice were giving signs of saturation, even if no food was provided to them.
The results of this study could be applied to the creation of improved dietary supplements. You could take this protein in the form of a pill after you had a meal which should provide the necessary vitamins and calories, but you are still showing signs of hunger. By administering this protein, you could feel full after eating a salad which would normally make you ask for seconds, or stem binge eating.
Even though hunger is influenced by bacteria found in your gut, further lab tests and experiments must be carried in order to see if the results found in rats could be applied to humans, and how we could benefit from this to a greater extent.