Just A Bite Will Satisfy, But Even The Little Bites Could Influence Gene Expression

Just A Bite Will Satisfy

A Cornell University study – conducted by researchers Ellen van Kleef, Mitsuru Shimizu, and Brian Wansink – was performed in the food and brand lab to determine when people were given smaller snack portions of foods like potato chips, chocolate, and apple pie if their cravings would be satiated after 15 minutes of consumption.

The study, published in the journal Food, Quality and Preference, tested two groups with different portion sizes. The larger portion group was given 100g of chocolate, 200g of apple pie, and 80g of potato chips – overall slightly more than the recommended portion size. This equated to 1,370 calories. The other was given 10g, 40g, and 10g of the same foods – the equivalent of 195 calories.

The groups filled out surveys rating their hunger and craving before and after the experiment. Although the larger portion side received a higher caloric intake and 77 percent more food, they did not experience a significantly higher sensation of appetite satisfaction. The smaller portion group felt as relatively satiated as the larger portion group but with the benefit of ingesting less.

The results reflect the importance of considering portion control and perception of fulfillment when snacking on high caloric foods, as a little is sufficient.

However, research published in Cell by scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) suggests even the smallest of indulgences may produce significant changes in gene expression that could negatively impact physiology and health such as establishing environments for metabolic diseases and disorders.

A.J. Marian Walhout, PhD, the co-director of the Program in Systems Biology and professor of molecular medicine at UMMS, described how metabolism and physiology are influenced by diet. Dr. Walhout used a roundworm (C. elegans) model in the genetic study – finding the effect of diet on gene expression.

The worms were offered different types of bacteria to devour. Each, when eaten, demonstrated different changes in gene expression. The natural diet of Comamonas bacteria resulted in fewer offspring and a shorter lifespan in comparison to when the worms fed on E. coli bacteria. Nearly 87 changes in the gene expression between the two diets were identified, some associated with TOR (target of rapamycin) and insulin signaling linked to metabolism.

“Diet-induced Development Acceleration Independent of TOR and Insulin in C. elegans,” outlined the molecular mechanisms and regulators by which diet effects gene expression, focusing on abnormal responses to diet.

These results suggested the possibility that different diets are not necessarily healthy or unhealthy but more specifically quantities of certain foods may be optimal under different conditions and for promoting different physiological outcomes.

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