Everyone at some stage or another during the holiday season has eaten to the point of feeling unpleasantly full. However, have you ever wondered why you always seem to have room for dessert, even after a big meal? The reason is due to our out-of-control taste buds, according to a recent study.
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More Flavors = Overeating
The results of a small study completed by Dr. David Katz, Professor at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale School of Medicine, suggest that people tend to overeat when their taste buds are over-stimulated by a diverse array of flavors. However, when flavors are thoughtfully distributed in a meal, we fill up on fewer calories, and this promotes weight loss.
Controlled Flavors and Weight Loss
Dr. Katz examined this phenomenon in 20 men and women, and their families, for 12 weeks. The group that followed a diet plan that contained meals with “controlled flavors” resulted in an average weight loss of 16 pounds of unwanted body weight; some lost up to 31 pounds. The study participant’s not only lost body fat; they saw their cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin, and blood pressure readings decline.
Over-Stimulation of Appetite Center
Dr. Katz suggests that a “sensory-specific” satiety mechanism likely evolved in humans because dietary variety was difficult to achieve when our species existed as hunters and gathers many thousands of years ago. Back then, a taste for different flavors was vital for survival as it takes a variety of foods to provide all of the nutrients we need.
However, the survival advantage this trait offered then is now a disadvantage because we are exposed constantly to an unprecedented variety of foods. The result is an over-stimulated appetite center in the brain that triggers too much eating and unwanted weight gain.
The food industry has capitalized on this trait. Processed foods are spiked with a ton of superfluous flavors such as sugar in salty food and salt in sweet food. People that are accustomed to eating processed foods don’t detect these additions. These flavor combinations stimulate our taste buds (and the regulatory processes within the brain that control appetite).
This leads to the over-consumption of many calorie-laden foods that we shouldn’t be eating in the first place.