A chemical found in hot chilli peppers could hold the key to helping people to eat less to lose weight, and ultimately fight obesity, according to recent research.
Researchers at Adelaide University are investigating how a chemical receptor in hot pepper can activate nerves in the stomach which send messages to the brain about how full the body is.
They also found high-fat diets may also impair receptors that signal fullness, which leads to overeating.
Research published in the journal PLOS ONE investigated the association between hot chilli pepper receptors (TRPV1) in the stomach and the feeling of fullness in laboratory studies.
Dr Stephen Kentish, from the university’s Centre for Nutrition and Gastrointestinal Diseases, said previous studies had shown capsaicin, found in hot chillies, reduced food intake.
“What we have studied and identified is that if we get rid of this channel [receptors], and make these nerves unable to respond to capsaicin, the mice in the study, actually consumed more food, which suggests that this is a mechanism that is potentially vital in controlling how much food we eat,” he said.
“The aim is to see how feasible this is as a potential treatment not just for obesity itself but maybe also in the prevention of gaining weight.
“If they could take something which makes them feel fuller sooner that would of course go a long way to preventing people from reaching an obese position.”
New research will look at developing a therapy using the chemical minus the spicy effect.
“What we really want to do is we really want to be able to develop … potentially look at ways of exploiting this chemical without the hotness that’s perceived when you eat food laden with chilli, so it’s more just about making it more able to be consumed by a vast majority of people.”