London, Jul 13: Drinking more water with your meal can alter messages from the stomach interpreted as fullness by the brain, thus curbing appetite, according to a new study which provided scientists new insight into how the brain listens to your stomach during eating.
Researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands showed - for the first time - real time data of the brain, the stomach, and people's feelings of satiety measured simultaneously during a meal.
Stomach magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) combined with functional MRI (fMRI) of the brain activity provided scientists new insight into how the brain listens to the stomach during eating.
Researchers collected data from 19 participants during two separate sessions with different consumption procedures and found that a simple change like drinking more water can alter messages from the stomach interpreted as fullness by the brain.
This new research approach can be used to investigate the interplay between satiety feelings, volume of the stomach and activity in the brain. In the experiment, participants drank a milk-shake on an empty stomach, which was followed by a small (50 millilitres) or large glass of water (350 millilitres).
MRI images were used to see how the different amounts of water affected stretching of the stomach: the large glass of water doubled the stomach content compared to the small glass. Together with this larger volume subjects reported to have less hunger and felt fuller.
This novel approach - combining information obtained simultaneously from MRI images of the stomach, feelings reported by the subjects, and brain scans - can offer new insights which would otherwise have been unknown, for example that activation in a brain area called the mid-temporal gyrus seems is in some way influenced by the increased water load in this experiment, researchers said.
"Combining these types of measurements is difficult, because MRI scanners are usually set-up to perform only one type of scan. We have been able to very quickly switch the scanner from one functionality to another to do this type of research," said Guido Camps from Wageningen University.
"In conclusion, we have found that simply adding water increases stomach distension, curbs appetite in the short term and increases regional brain activity," said Camps.