The feelings of hunger and satiety are regulated by specific hormones that send signals to your brain, which tells you to start or stop eating.
All physiological functions in the body are, to a certain degree, affected by hormones. The endocrine system refers to the complex interplay between the glands, hormones and the organs that are influenced by hormones.
Factors like stress, infections, lifestyle habits, and ingesting, breathing or being around certain chemicals can tamper with some parts of your endocrine system.
Usually, when thinking of hormones, the first things that come to mind are sex hormones, thyroid and maybe adrenal gland hormones. There is much more than that, for instance, some hormones coordinate digestive processes, while others regulate our appetite, i.e. ghrelin and leptin.
Ghrelin, a.k.a. the hunger hormone
It not only stimulates appetite, but also the production of the growth hormone and gastric acid secretion. Ghrelin is produced mainly in an empty stomach, and to a lesser extent, in the small intestine, pancreas and the brain.
The satiety hormone, leptin, decreases hunger
Leptin is secreted primarily in fat cells, and in smaller quantities in the stomach, heart, placenta and skeletal muscle. Its role is to signal the brain that no more food is needed, and it’s time to stop eating.
Did you know that leptin’s name comes from the Greek “leptos”, meaning “thin”? All of these make it easy to jump to the conclusion: the more leptin you have, the thinner you get!
It is clear that the more fat cells you have, the more leptin will be produced. Therefore, you should feel less hungry. It sounds too good to be this simple, and unfortunately, it is not.
Welcome to leptin resistance! When the body makes too much leptin, the brain stops responding by reducing the appetite, as it should do. For this reason, obese people will get hungrier and eat more.
Is it possible to control the production of ghrelin and leptin and promote weight loss? Not that easy, but there are certain factors to consider:
1) Hormones are interdependent, meaning they work in sync with each other.
2) Each of us has a unique hormonal profile.
3) Dietary choices can greatly influence the overall hormonal balance.
For instance, a couple of studies suggest that when is compared to glucose, consumption of fructose (which can elevate cholesterol and triglycerides) produces smaller increases in the satiety hormone.
Try these 3 tips to manage hunger or excessive appetite
√ Eat slowly, as it takes up to 20 minutes for your brain to get the message of fullness and tell you to stop eating.
√ Get more fiber-rich foods like vegetables, beans and legumes, as these stretch the stomach, increase the sensation of fullness, thus decreasing appetite.
√ Listen to your body: sometimes, hunger may be mistaken for thirst, so when hunger strikes, try drinking one glass of water and observe how you feel. Added benefit: drinking water before meals may also help with weight loss.
There are multiple hormones in the body, and they influence each other. Due to hormones, we keep hunger and fullness in check, secrete digestive enzymes or produce the female and male reproductive hormones.
Maintaining a hormonal balance at all times is necessary, and our food choices can have an indubitable contribution.
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