Sweet tooth and alcohol cravings are regulated by liver hormone as per the findings of two studies published in the Cell Metabolism journal.
Previous studies have already pinpointed the role of the liver in regulating our food preference and food intake. At the same time, it was known that a hormone dubbed the fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) regulates preferences for certain nutrients.
With any variation of in the fibroblast growth factor 21 gene sequence, a new preference is created. Based on these previous findings, the two new studies looked at how the fibroblast growth factor 21 could influence sugar and alcohol cravings. University of Iowa’s Matthew Potthoff and University of Copenhagen’s Matthew Gillum looked at the function FGF21 performs under these two different scenarios.
More particularly, both studies were looking to emphasize the mechanisms underlying sweet cravings even after sugar intake. The function that FGF21 fulfills in regulating food preference was a good starting point.
One of the research papers describes how FGF21 regulated sugar intake in addition to alcohol intake with mice. The more sugar the mice consumed, the more of the food preference regulating hormone was produced. Thus, FGF21 entered the bloodstream. From here, it reached the hypothalamus to repressed the need for further sugar intake. The hypothalamus is the region of the brain controlling food intake as well as energy homeostasis.
The second research paper looked at the role of FGF21 in regulating sugar intake and alcohol intake in both mice and monkeys. As in the first experiment, mice were observed to cut sugar intake the higher the hormone production was.
With monkeys, after just one dose of the FGF21 was injected in their bodies, they lost appetite for the sweetened water they were served. It was also found that fibroblast growth factor 21 regulates alcohol intake in the same way.
It’s yet unclear why Sweet tooth and alcohol cravings are regulated by liver hormone as FGF21 didn’t show the same function in regulating responses to bitter tastes or fatty acids. The hormone does affect the central nervous system and it may fulfil the function it does simply to protect the liver.
However, more research needs to be conducted in this area. If the mechanism behind FGF21’s function in regulating sugar intake and alcohol intake is unravelled, new therapies to combat alcoholism or obesity could be developed.
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