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Taste buds have little receptors to sense the lovely taste of sugar, but now scientists have found that tasting sweets doesn't end with your tongue.
In the small intestine, where dietary sugars are absorbed, more of the same sugar receptors have just been discovered.
Glucose, the end product of carbohydrates, activates those sweet receptors, causing the gut to taste the presence of sugar. The more sugar tasted in the gut by the receptors, the more glucose the gut absorbs.
When the receptors are activated by glucose, they trigger the secretion of GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1). GLP-1 is an intestinal incretin hormone that promotes insulin secretion and regulates appetite. (For more on how incretins work, see "JANUVIA™ Approved in the European Union for the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes".)
The study authors, reporting in the August 2007 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also found that the gut sweet receptors could taste artificial sweeteners just as if they were real glucose, triggering a similar increase in dietary glucose absorption. The researchers believe that this finding could explain why people who use artificial sweeteners often fail to lose weight.
Source: EurekAlert; Innovations Report