Straight from the Gut

A new study shows that you may indeed “trust your gut” when it comes to taste. The human intestine has taste receptors. The study’s lead author, Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Dr. Robert F. Margolskee, says,

We now know that the receptors that sense sugar and artificial sweeteners are not limited to the tongue. Our work is an important advance for the new field of gastrointestinal chemosensation—how the cells of the gut detect and respond to sugars and other nutrients.

Apparently, the receptors help regulate the secretion of insulin and appetite-regulating hormones. The discovery could benefit diabetics, as well as lead to a better understanding of why artificially sweetened foods and beverages don’t aid weight loss. Another of the study’s scientists explains:

These sweet sensing proteins allow humans and animals to detect glucose within the intestine. ... [I]f we could use the taste receptor like a dimmer switch we could set it so that the appropriate amount of sugar is absorbed in the body.

Pretty cool, but couldn’t they have come up with a better name for this exciting new find? Gastrointestinal chemosensation doesn’t really roll off the tongue. How about gut buds?

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