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Delaying fat digestion to curb appetite

19 August 2010

Institute of Food Research scientists have discovered an unexpected synergy that helps break down fat. The discovery provides a focus to find ways to slow down fat digestion, and ultimately to create food structures that induce satiety.

“Much of the fat in processed foods is eaten in the form of emulsions such as soups, yoghurt, ice cream and mayonnaise,”” said Dr Peter Wilde from the Institute of Food Research.

“We are unpicking the mechanisms of digestion used to break them down so we can design fats in a rational way that are digested more slowly.”

If the digestion of fat is delayed and fatty acids are able to reach the ileum, the final section of the small intestine, their presence stimulates satiety-inducing hormones.

IFR scientists have been experimenting with using protein layers to stabilise emulsions and delay fat digestion.

In this study, they found that a normally-stable whey protein is partially broken down when it is attached to the surface of an emulsion. When a surfactant is introduced, this acts synergistically with the fat, breaking down the protein layer even more effectively. With the barrier weakened, access is improved for the enzymes and bile salts that break down fat.

“We are now experimenting with heat and enzyme treatments to reduce the synergistic effect and make the protein barrier stronger,” said Dr Wilde.

The scientists at the Institute of Food Research, an institute of the BBSRC, are the only scientists seeking the precise mechanisms by which emulsions behave under different conditions and how they are digested so they can be used to control satiety.

This research was funded by the BBSRC and by the EU through a Marie Curie Fellowship.

Contacts:

IFR Press Office:
Andrew Chapple, 01603 251490 andrew.chapple@ifr.ac.uk
Zoe Dunford, 01603 255111, zoe.dunford@ifr.ac.uk
Notes to Editors

Reference: In vitro gastric digestion of interfacial protein structures: visualisation by AFM. was published online by Soft Matter on Thursday 19th August. DOI: 10.1039/c0sm00300j.

http://pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2010/SM/C0SM00300J

The mission of the Institute of Food Research (www.ifr.ac.uk ) is to undertake international quality scientific research relevant to food and human health and to work in partnership with others to provide underpinning science for consumers, policy makers, the food industry and academia. It is a company limited by guarantee, with charitable status, grant aided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (www.bbsrc.ac.uk ).

 
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