Sunday, May 22, 2011


Food industry is continuously under attack for allegedly making wrong basket of foods, most of them considered unhealthy. It is not disputable that catering to the taste buds of the consumer can only generate profit for the industry and unfortunately the three food ingredients viz salt, sugar and fat can make foods with maximum organoleptic qualities. Of course if at all the industry is to be blamed it can be for not innovating enough to create foods with lower levels of the above ingredients without compromising too much on the sensory quality. There are many suggestions and guidelines for individuals to follow to cut down intake of foods so that their intake of calories is brought down significantly. There are also commercial out fits that offer a variety of diets claiming they have the ability to bring down body weight significantly within a reasonably short time.

Satiety is the feeling of satisfaction or not feeling the pangs of hunger and can be the key to future development of designer foods targeting those vulnerable to over eating or indisciplined consumption of all types of foods. Though it was known that there are some foods that can lessen the desire to eat more and others that promote further eating, most consumers have very little interest in such facts, focus being best foods agreeing to their palate. But countries all over the world are concerned about the health of their population and inappropriate and nutritionally unbalanced foods, offered mostly by the food industry, are considered the main culprits for almost all health afflictions experienced. Over weight and obesity are conditions that can lead to many health disorders which affect the quality of life besides the life span.

While governments can do very little to do to bring about any dramatic changes in the food consumption habits of people, industry is in a better position to help the society at large by changing their product portfolio to include products that are satiety oriented. Adequate scientific information is available regarding the factors that create satiety and based on these scientific findings many new products can be developed combining satiety inducing and low caloric dense food ingredients. Digestive track in humans produces several special proteins after the ingestion of a meal that provide the feeling of satiety and these appetite regulatory proteins, one of the important ones being cholecystokinin (CCK), serves the twin purpose of shutting the stomach valve that permits transfer of ingested food into the intestine and simultaneously sending message to the appetite center in the brain to generate a feeling of fullness.

Out of the three major constituents of food, certain fats and proteins are considered good for creating satiety while carbohydrates are least effective. Long chain fatty acids, mono unsaturated, contained in oils from corn, canola, peanut, olive, safflower, sunflower and soybean are good appetite suppressors while soy and whey proteins have also this property. Effectively combining food ingredients which are low in caloric density and high in dietary fiber like whole wheat, oats, barley, legumes and pulses, it should be possible to evolve foods which can reduce the appetite very significantly. As a strategy, consumption of almonds, peanuts, cheese etc before a meal has been claimed to be considerably effective to reduce the quantity of food consumed by an individual.

According to a recent scientific study eating wheat flour and almonds can significantly increase the feeling of fullness which can result in reduced tendency to take food and consequently prevent overeating. Through out the day hunger pangs can occur making people reach for the pantry and it is this urge that needs to be slowed down to maintain or reduce body weight. Whole grains, such as oats, barley, rye and corn are known to have the ability to prevent weight accumulation because of their high-volume, low-energy density and the relatively lower palatability. Resistant starch escapes digestion in the small intestine of healthy individuals and delivers the benefits of both soluble and insoluble fiber. It has been found that the quantity of resistant starch in foods correlates with blood glucose response and reduced food intake after two hours. Oligosaccharides which are complex carbohydrates, are found in beans and legumes, and they help maintain stable blood glucose levels when eaten as part of a meal. Like resistant starch, they are not digested by the small intestine and end up being metabolized and expelled from the large intestine. Proteins, considered good for creating satiety include soy, which have been shown to stimulate the release of cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone that plays a role in appetite suppression. Similarly whey is also an effective satiety promoter by stimulating several gastrointestinal hormones that are thought to regulate appetite control in the brain. Same is true with egg and egg products.

As the area of satiety promotion is a relatively new one, considerable insight about various facets of this unique phenomenon needs to be understood more clearly. In one of the recent studies it was found that chewing a few Almonds forty times before swallowing increases excretion of appetite controlling hormones considerably while same Almonds chewed for less time had smaller impact. What is to be made of this finding is still not clear though the fine particles resulting from thorough chewing has been suggested as responsible for the effect. There are products like Badam Halwa, Badam Kheer etc derived from Almonds which find extensive use in Indian households and probably these finely ground products may have significant influence on satiety promotion. When late Morarjee Desai, former Prime Minister of India was known to have a diet containing Almonds, many wondered as to how he was living on a frugal diet without feeling the pangs of hunger. Similarly many Sadhus, Sanayasis , Ascetics and Godmen in India live on sparse diets containing small quantities of regular foods, apparently with no signs of any ill effect. It is time that Indian Food Scientists revisit the area of ancient food habits in the country to gain better insight into this important field of health and nutrition.


No comments: