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Hot chilli may be a key to novel therapies to fight obesity

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Posted August 27, 2015

Obesity is a big problem these days. As much as healthy life style is being promoted by celebrities and policy makers, societies are still not as healthy as we would like to see them. However, now scientists at the University of Adelaide have found a possible solution for obesity. And as hard to believe it is, they think hot chilli may unlock a new treatment for obesity.

Obesity is often disregarded as an illness of people who lack willpower. However, it is a huge load for health care systems and causes lives, which is why new treatments are extremely needed. Image credit: ParentingPatch via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Obesity is often disregarded as an illness of people who lack willpower. However, it is a huge load for health care systems and causes lives, which is why new treatments are extremely needed. Image credit: ParentingPatch via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Science knows that a high-fat diet may impair important receptors located in the stomach that signal fullness. Usually we feel full when stomach stretches and activates special nerves which signal us, telling that our body received all the food it is able to digest. Scientists are pretty certain that a high-fat diet can get in a way of this function. Now researchers discovered that this activation of nerves in the stomach is regulated through hot chilli pepper or TRPV1 receptors.

Professor Amanda Page explained – “It is known from previous studies that capsaicin, found in hot chillies, reduces food intake in humans. And what we’ve discovered is that deletion of TRPV1 receptors dampens the response of gastric nerves to stretch – resulting in a delayed feeling of fullness and the consumption of more food. Therefore part of the effect of capsaicin on food intake may be mediated via the stomach.”

This means that new therapies can be developed to fight obesity. Now scientists have more knowledge about the TRPV1 receptor pathway. They also know that the consumption of capsaicin may be able to prevent overeating through an action on nerves in the stomach. Therefore, they decided that the next step into developing novel therapies to fight obesity should be investigation of the mechanisms behind TRPV1 receptor activation. Science has known for some time that high-fat diet de-sensitises TRPV1 receptors, but actual reason are still unknown. Now researchers will attempt to find out why this de-sensitisation happens and are there any possible ways to restore the damage.

This would be a huge step towards fighting obesity. It is often overlooked as only a disease of lazy people with no willpower. However, it does cost a lot of money for health care systems around the world and lives are often lost too. This approach, as surprising as it sound with hot chilli hiding the secret remedies to fight obesity, could be long waited breakthrough, but we will have to wait and see how it develops.

Source: adelaide.edu.au

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