Does fighting obesity, diabetes start in the gut?

After several decades of research, scientists are still coming up short when it comes to developing drugs to combat obesity.

But recent research posted online in the Cell Press publication, Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, suggests that targeting the gut may be a good strategy.

Gut feeling

But it has nothing to do with weight loss surgery or colon cleansing--it has to do with targeting taste sensors that actually reside in the gut. These sensors "taste" what we eat, whether it's salty, sweet, bitter or fat--just like the tongue does. When these sensors malfunction, researchers say, they don't send signals to the stomach that the body is satiated, leading to overeating and, subsequently, health problems like obesity and diabetes.

Science is now showing that targeting selected receptors in the gut to release specific hormones might help prevent a problem before it starts, assisting the body in feeling full.

Drs. Sara Janssen and Inge Depoortere, of the Translational Research Center for Gastrointestinal Disorders at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, elaborate:

"The effectiveness of bariatric surgery to cause profound weight loss and a decrease in the prevalence of diabetes and other obesity-related conditions is not completely understood, but it may involve changes in the release of gut hormones."

By using hormones, researchers say, they might be able to mimic the effects of weight loss surgery without requiring a patient to go under the knife. More research is needed, however, to determine which gut receptors ought to be targeted for optimal results.

Source: Science Daily

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