When we are full the stomach becomes stretched, nerves in the body are alerted and they send signals to show when we are satisfied and should stop eating.
Australian researchers found that if a diet is high in fat, the receptors signalling fullness are impaired, leading to overeating and in turn, obesity. But recent studies have found that the spicy compound named capsaicin, found in chilli peppers can also stimulate the ‘fullness-receptors’.
The new findings support previous reports that this receptor is able to help prevent high-fat diet-related obesity.
Professor Amanda Page carried out the research, she said, “We found that these receptors in the body are activated through hot chilli peppers.”
“It is known from previous studies that the capsaicin compound can reduce food intake in humans.”
Eating a high-fat diet can disrupt the response of these receptors. This results in the delayed sensation of fullness and leads to people eating more food. However, Dr Stephen Kentish, University of Adelaide’s School of Medicine, believes these new findings have the ability to help the development of therapies and prevent the obesity crisis from growing further.
“It is exciting that we now know more about these receptors and that the consumption of capsaicin may be able to prevent overeating through the stomach nerve activity.”
Dr Kentish also said, “We will do further work to determine why a high-fat diet can slow the response of nerves, and investigate if we can reverse the damage.”
Another study also found that the capsaicin compound in chillies may have the potential to reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer. Researchers gave doses of the compound to mice that were genetically prone to tumours in the gastrointestinal tract. It was later found that the capsaicin altered a pain receptor in the intestine cells. This activated a reaction that reduced the risk of the mice developing the tumours.
Whilst only in the beginnings of the experiment, scientists found the capsaicin treatment given to the mice extended their lifespan by more than 30 per cent.