The key brain cells controlling appetite have been identified in a study. Cells called tanycytes, which are located in the area of the brain that controls energy levels, detect nutrients in food we have eaten and pass the information directly on to the brain.
Tanycytes found in the brain react to amino acids in food by way of the same “umami” taste receptors which are found in the tongue’s taste buds that sense the amino acids’ flavor.
Lysine and arginine are amino acids which react well with tanycytes, so eating foods containing them will activate the tanycytes and make you feel full for longer.
Some foods with a high concentration of lysine and arginine are beef sirloin steak, pork shoulder, mackerel, chicken, apricots, plums, avocados, almonds and lentils.
The discovery was made when researchers added concentrated quantities of lysine and arginine into brain cells, and then any microscopic reactions were made visible by making the brain cells fluorescent. It was observed that the amino acids were detected by the tanycytes and responded within thirty seconds. Information was then released to the brain area controlling appetite and body weight.
According to the researchers, blood levels of amino acids after a meal are an important signal that gives the feeling of fullness sensation.