The food industry could be able to increase the satiating effects of their products by optimising the specific structures of certain ingredients in their products to cause them to sediment when consumed, according to new data published in the American Journal of Physiology.
Led by Alan Mackie from the UK's Institute of Food Research (IFR) and NIZO scientist George van Aken, the research team found that manipulating the structure of a food to cause it to separate in to an energy dense and energy poor layer can help to increase feelings of fullness in human test subjects.
“By structuring foods in such a way that an early formation of a viscous sediment of the energy-rich part is promoted, initial stomach emptying is slowed down, satiation is enhanced and food intake can be better controlled," said van Aken of NIZO.
The team compared two food systems with closely similar nutrient compositions and caloric content (67% from fat, 27% from protein and 6% from carbohydrates): one that sediments in the stomach and one that remains homogeneous.
The foods were made with common ingredients and tested in human volunteers, they added.
The team found that if a food in the stomach separates into an energy-poor upper layer and a viscous energy-dense sediment, then the energy-dense part is delivered to the small intestine first - keeping the energy-poor liquid layer stacked on top.
Because of this, the volume of the stomach then stays larger for a longer time while at the same time the small intestine signals an influx of high-energy food.
The team found that using tactics to cause this layering significantly increased the satiating effects of the food system - with better scores for feelings of fullness, hunger, satisfaction and desire to eat when compared to the system that did not layer.
Moreover, Mackie and his team added that MRI imaging confirmed the expected differences in the volume and distribution of the food in the stomach, while blood serum levels of the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK) helped the team relate this data to release and detection of nutrients in the small intestine.
According to van Aken, methods to create a sedimenting effect within the stomach can be applied to a wide range of foodstuffs:
"We have many technologies in place to reformulate foods to target this effect and it works with common ingredients,” said the NIZO researcher.
Using such tactics to crease foods that help people feel fuller for longer will help the industry aid their consumers in cutting caloric intake, he added.