Does Your Hungry Stomach Really Have a Mind Of It's Own?


The researchers at Nestle have a new mission: to make you feel fuller faster. They plan on doing this by tricking our gut brains into feeling full, thus sending a message to our actual brains to stop eating, which would theoretically result in weight loss. Our gut brain is the new term for our enteric nervous system, the nerves that control digestive functions. Our enteric nervous systems are sometimes referred to as a second brain. That’s because even in people who are “brain dead,” they can still digest foods with the assistance of feeding tubes. It’s an amazing group of nerves that can function on their own even if the main nerve that connects to the brain, the vagus nerve, is severed. Nestle plans on having these new foods to trick your gut brain in about five years.

Nestle, known for their chocolate is also a large company that already makes many diet foods. Some of their brands include the popular Jenny Craig meals and Kellogg’s Special K.  Nestle is putting lots of resources into research. They, along with other big food companies, are trying to decode the language of satiety—the “I’m full” signals our gut brain sends to our big brain. With this knowledge, they will be able to make foods that would satisfy our hunger, while we lose weight at the same time. Part of their research is at their ever-growing lab that includes a digestion lab in which scientists use a million-dollar model of the human gut.

This machine, about the size of a large refrigerator,  has several compartments linked by valves and set to human body temperature to try to replicate the digestive process. It is all regulated by computer and has glass in the front of the machine so observers can watch foods as they travel through the system. They have already been conducting early stage experiments on olive oil combined with a compound called monoglyceride. The scientists noted in this experiment, published in the journal Food Biophysics last year, that this olive oil-monoglyceride combination took eight times as long to digest as ordinary olive oil. The scientists hope that this long digestive time could mean a stronger sense of feeling full in the human body.

Doesn’t this sound like the same old plan they’ve had for years? They, along with other companies, keep making diet, low fat, fat free, sugar free, or low carbohydrate foods, in order to take advantage of the latest diet trend. I myself, although hopeful Nestle will come out with some wonder food, have little hope that they will create anything significantly better than past discoveries.