Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why There's Always Room for Dessert

The stomach is a flexible organ. When you consume a large meal the walls of the upper section of the stomach relax to make room for the food.

How full you feel is closely associated with the pressure inside the stomach, which in turn is linked to how much the stomach has expanded to tackle the food.

"It appears that three factors collaborate in triggering the relaxing reflex,” explains Berstad.

First of all, the sight and smell of food and the process of chewing and swallowing it have an effect. Secondly, the pressure of food against the stomach has its important impact. And thirdly, the duodenum “tastes” the components of the food.

All this information goes to the brainstem through particular nerves. A message is sent out again from the core of the brainstem which oversees the relaxation of muscles in the stomach wall, according to Berstad.

By eating dessert after you’re really full you mislead your normal sensation of being sated.

Glucose – or sugar if you will – stimulates this relaxation reflex.

“In this way it can decrease the pressure on the stomach and reduce the sensation of being full. A sweet dessert allows the stomach to make room for more food,” the researchers write in the medical journal.

How comfortable it actually is to bamboozle your stomach with sugar and refill it to the pain threshold with crème caramel is another matter. The optimal use of dessert is really a question of moderation, according to the researchers.
Moderation is for sissies, especially at Christmas...

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