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Seeing and smelling food prepares the mouse liver for digestion -- ScienceDaily

A previous study published in Cell in 2015 by another team of researchers found that sensory perception of food by lab mice was enough to trigger the neural pathways normally fueled by eating. Specifically, perceiving food inhibited AgRP neurons, which stimulate appetite, and activated POMC neurons, which induce satiety and suppress eating. The new study built on that research, focusing on how the changes in these neural pathways sent signals that affected metabolic activities in the liver. Here, the researchers found that within five minutes of lab mice perceiving food, the changes in POMC neuron activity were enough to induce a rapid signaling cascade that activated the mTOR and xbp1 signaling pathways. These pathways are normally activated when the liver takes up amino acids from digested food and help increase the protein folding capacity of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), which assembles proteins from the amino acids found in food.

The case against carbohydrates gets stronger

We started the participants on a calorie-restricted diet until they lost 10%-14% of their body weight. After that, we randomly assigned them to eat exclusively one of three diets, containing either 20%, 40% or 60% carbohydrates. For the next five months, we made sure they didn’t gain or lose any more weight, adjusting how much food they received, but keeping the ratio of carbohydrates constant. By doing so, we could directly measure how their metabolism responded to these differing levels of carbohydrate consumption. Participants in the low (20%) carbohydrate group burned on average about 250 calories a day more than those in the high (60%) carbohydrate group, just as predicted by the carbohydrate-insulin model. Without intervention (that is, if we hadn’t adjusted the amount of food to prevent weight change), that difference would produce substantial weight loss — about 20 pounds after a few years. If a low-carbohydrate diet also curbs hunger and food intake (as other studies suggest it can), the effect could be even greater.

Insulin gives an extra boost to the immune system -- ScienceDaily

"We have identified one of metabolism's most popular hormones, specifically the insulin signaling pathway, as a novel 'co-stimulatory' driver of immune system function," says Dr. Dan Winer, who is also Assistant Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at University of Toronto. "Our work characterizes the role of this signaling pathway in immune cells, mainly T cells, opening up avenues in the future to better regulate the immune system."