How do hormones affect our appetites?


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Hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin have become a hot topic. Both the deplorable OMG Diet and the POSE weight loss surgery, among other weight loss methods, suggest we go through startling lengths to defeat what Dr. Oz calls the “Ghrelin Gremlin.” Before you take extreme measures to control hunger, know that there are ways to regulate these hormones.

Ghrelin and leptin affect our appetites because they control energy output. The ghrelin monster is the hormone that puts out the hunger signal. According to the National Institutes of Health, it is a quick-acting hormone. Leptin, by contrast, is a slower hormone that regulates energy and food intake; it gives our body the signal that it is full. The NIH reports that many obese people are leptin-resistant, even though they have lower levels of ghrelin than average. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism states that rapid fat loss via caloric restriction, illness or eating disorder actually increases ghrelin levels, while a reduction in fatty foods increases leptin.

Sensing a trend here? The body needs sustainable levels of energy and a balanced diet in order for it to function properly. What foods give us sustainable energy? Complex carbohydrates and lean protein! Phytonutrients — found in many fruits and vegetables — help to ease inflammation in the body that has been shown to block leptin. Dr. Oz suggests small meals throughout the day to help regulate ghrelin.

A balanced diet is only part of the picture here. According to Natural News maintaining a regular sleep cycle may decrease ghrelin and increase leptin. The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine reports a link between exercise and decreasing ghrelin levels.

There you have it: a balanced diet, a good night’s sleep, and regular exercise will help you on your way to maintaining a healthy, positive relationship with your body. Not so scary after all!