Monday, January 14, 2008

Protein Provides Satiety Through PYY

In our strange world, we have researchers now promoting the idea that a pharmaceutical version of the gut hormone PYY may offer a solution to help individuals lose weight.

In the MSN article, Natural Gut Hormones May Provide a Treatment for Obesity, we learn that researchers are seeking to develop a pill to provide the satiety hormone PYY.

"The advantage of developing weight loss medications based on gut-derived satiety hormones is that they enhance a process that occurs naturally. It is expected, therefore, that side effects will be minimal," says Dr Sainsbury-Salis.

Folks, we're not PYY deficient; in fact, I'd argue we're not eating the foods that stimulate PYY to effectively sate appetite naturally.

As I noted in a previous blog post about research investigating PYY, "A high protein diet led to spontaneous calorie reduction as PYY increased. The phenomenon was consistent with both the animal model using mice and in human studies used to validate the mice model. Over a longer term, the higher protein diet stimulated weight loss and enhanced PYY synthesis and secretion in mice."

As I noted in that post, the study I wrote about included quite specific detail about how diet influences the release of PYY in humans - "The ready availability of carbohydrate-rich grains and cereals has been a recent development in human nutrition with the onset of organized agriculture. Many of the physiological systems that regulate food intake were probably established and may function better under lower-carbohydrate and higher-protein dietary conditions."

Those were not my words, but the words of the researchers!

And now we have researchers looking to design a pill to provide what we already have naturally - if we eat adequate protein and fat. But, let's not go there and discuss diet, let's just pop a pill and continue along with the supposed "healthy diet" that obviously is not sating out appetite!


  1. Anonymous10:42 AM

    Hi, Regina,

    I find your blog amazingly useful and informative, and I've featured in my new Blog Spotlight series.


  2. Anonymous2:24 PM

    I just found your blog today and am rather enjoying reading your usually quite analytical approach.

    However, I would say that your suggestion here that drug analogues of GI hormones the stimulate satiety are necessarily bad because there exists a dietary alternative is rather like the assertions that proponenets of low fat diets makes. Specifically, the implication that everyone can successfully loose weight using a low fat diet, while technically true, does not necessarily make it the best choice for any given patient. I would suggest that hormone analogues for weight loss may play a usefull role in weight loss treatment in the future. Certainly because a certain way of eating works for maintaining a reasonable weight for you and I does not necessarily mean that another method will not be efficacious for others.

    I also tend to take issue with the implication that "natural" is necissarily better than "artificial", both of which are highly subjective terms.

  3. The thing though with an satiety indicator which is active in repsonse to the food a person eats is that it works in balance with other changes in metabolism and body chemistry. That we know little about this balance and how other, perhaps as yet unknown, proteins or hormones are affected is irrelevant - the changes occuring are a result of homeostatic processes which take place in response to the nature of food eaten.

    Stick in an artificial satiety agent, which is based on one released naturally in reponse to one diet, while the person eats an entirely different diet and there is no way of knowing what the knock on effects on blood chemistry and homeostasis will be.

    In this context the distinction between natural and artificial seems pretty clear.

  4. Anonymous12:42 PM

    What Katherine said reminds me of what the Eades say about blood pressure meds. You go into the doctor, your blood pressure is a bit high. The doc prescribes a beta blocker. It artificially forces your blood pressure down, but it doesn't address the root cause of high blood pressure, which is insulin-induced sodium retention by the kidneys.

    Furthermore, the beta blocker increases insulin resistance, which tends to increase insulin production. Now you are at increased risk of metabolic syndrome. Your cholesterol goes up. The doctor prescribes another drug, which has insulin resistance as a side effect.

    A few more rounds of this, and pretty soon you have Type II diabetes. If, however, your doctor had put you on a low-carb diet at that first visit (and, of course, if you'd followed his advice), your blood pressure would've normalized and you would not be playing the ratcheting-up-the-insulin-resistance game.

    I do agree with logos that not everyone is willing to make lifestyle choices, and some people would rather take a pill. However, I wonder if people's perspectives would change if their doctors said, "The diet will fix you up pretty much completely with minimal side effects, but you stick to it for the rest of your life; the pill will allow you to continue living the way you do, but it has many side effects that include insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can lead to obesity, heart disease and Type II diabetes, which in turn can lead to tendon and joint problems, gangrene, amputations, kidney failure, blindness, and early death. Shall I get out the prescription pad?"