Your taste buds may or may not be able to tell real sugar from a sugar substitute like Splenda, but there are cells in your intestines that can and do distinguish between the two sweet solutions.
Your taste buds may or may not be able to tell real sugar from a sugar substitute like Splenda, but there are cells in your intestines that can and do distinguish between the two sweet solutions. And they can communicate the difference to your brain in milliseconds.
Not long after the sweet taste receptor was identified in the mouths of mice 20 years ago, scientists attempted to knock those taste buds out. But they were surprised to find that mice could still somehow discern and prefer natural sugar to artificial sweetener, even without a sense of taste.
The answer to this riddle lies much further down in the digestive tract, at the upper end of the gut just after the stomach, according to research led by Diego Bohórquez, an associate professor of medicine and neurobiology in the Duke University School of Medicine.
In a paper appearing Jan. 13 in Nature Neuroscience, “we’ve identified the cells that make us eat sugar, and they are in the gut,” Bohórquez said. Infusing sugar directly into the lower intestine or colon does not have the same effect. The sensing cells are in the upper reaches of the gut, he said.
Read more at Duke University
Photo Credit: Myriams-Fotos via Pixabay