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If your gut instinct is to reach for a second helping after you clean your plate, you may want to wait a bit and see if that instinct changes. A recent study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that about 20 minutes after food is eaten, the bacteria in the gut secretes proteins that signal a feeling of fullness to the brain. “Our study revealed that animal physiology of nutrition and bacterial biology of the gut microbiota are mechanistically linked,” says senior study author Serguei Fetissov, professor of physiology at the University of Rouen and the principal investigator in the Nutrition, Gut and Brain Laboratory of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM).
These new findings suggest that the bacteria may play a role in controlling your urge to pick up the fork and overindulge by activating certain appetite-regulating nerve cells in the brain. This discovery could change the way we control appetite in the future and make a significant impact on the obesity epidemic. According to Fetissov, next steps include identifying which bacteria in the gut contribute the most to signaling satiety and finding a way to “talk” to them so they can help regulate appetite.