A group of Nestle SA researchers are on an unusual mission: They hope to create new foods that make people feel full earlier, or stay full longer, in order to curb the desire to eat more, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
This avenue of food science could represent a fresh assault in the fight against flab.
Nestle has run some experiments on foods using an artificial model of a human gut that mimics the process of digestion. In one experiment using olive oil they measured how long it took the artificial gut to digest olive oil at the natural rate. Then, they added a compound called monoglyceride, which formed a protective coat around the oil, making it harder digest the oil.
The Nestle scientists found it took eight times longer for the machine to "digest" the olive oil-monoglyceride combination. This resulted in more undigested oil reaching the small intestine. In the human body, this could lead to a stronger signal of fullness to the brain.
Food companies have been trying to make satiety-inducing foods for years with little success. Danone SA of France launched a nonfat yogurt "Light & Fit Crave Control," whose combination of fiber and protein was intended to stave off hunger. It was taken off the market in 2007 "because it wasn't our best tasting product," a spokesman says.
Unilever experimented with foods that activate the ileal brake, which signals to the brain that the stomach is full. But Nestle researchers found that a food that only triggers the ileal brake mechanism likely won't win over a lot of consumers. " … it can end up making you feel queasy," says Hilary Green, a spokeswoman for Nestle's R&D center.
Nestle is now pushing an approach, one that attacks the satiety problem in multiple ways at once. Nestle declined to say which foods its research might lead to, although a hypothetical example could be a vegetable oil that could go in a dressing or be used for cooking.