Obesity is on the rise around the world, and if left unchecked this could have serious consequences for our overall health in the decades to come. However, it turns out that the bacteria living in your gut can help control how much food you eat ... which could change the way we all control our appetites in the future.

Gut microbes produce proteins capable of suppressing the appetites of mice and rats, and there is reason to believe the same process occurs in humans. A study conducted at France's Rouen University found that proteins produced by E. coli bacteria after they have been fed influence the release of signals to the brain, plus they activate neurons known to regulate appetite.

The authors of the study observed that after 20 minutes of consuming nutrients from food, E. coli present in the gut start producing different proteins. This coincides with the time it takes for an average person to start feeling full after a meal.

By injecting small doses of the bacterial proteins produced after being fed into the test subjects, they reduced their food intake. These proteins stimulate the release of peptide YY, a hormone closely linked to feelings of fullness. ClpB, one of the proteins produced when the gut bacteria have been satiated, also increases the firing of neurons that reduce appetite.

"We now think bacteria physiologically participate in appetite regulation immediately after nutrient provision by multiplying and stimulating the release of satiety hormones from the gut," says study leader Sergueï Fetissov. "In addition, we believe gut microbiota produce proteins that can be present in the blood longer term and modulate pathways in the brain."

A paper on Fetissov's findings was recently published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Source: Cell Press