Cheryl A. Major is a volunteer contributor to WestfordCAT News. Email news to [email protected].
Previously, we discussed the basics of two hormones you may not have known existed. Ghrelin and leptin are the hunger hormones, and they can work for you or against you as you strive to achieve and maintain your perfect weight. Ghrelin tells you when your body needs more “fuel”, and it’s time to eat. Leptin tells you when you’re full, and you’ve eaten enough…or at least it’s supposed to get that message to your brain. When the message doesn’t get through, it’s important to understand that resetting your hunger hormones can be achieved.
Before we get to that, what happens that the message doesn’t get through to your brain? The fact is that it’s related to our sugar laden diet, and the reasons are pretty simple. Leptin is connected to insulin. When we eat, leptin enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain. The more food we eat, the more insulin is produced by the pancreas and the more leptin we make.
When we’ve eaten enough, our leptin levels become higher and are supposed to signal the brain we are full and it’s time to stop eating. These higher levels are also supposed to send a signal to the pancreas that we’re full and it’s time to stop producing insulin.
When our bodies are trying to process too much sugar, the insulin the pancreas produces is dealing with too much sugar, and that stimulates the production of triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood, and they may raise your risk of heart disease. These triglycerides are stored as fat, and the result is weight gain!
Even more disturbing, high levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream interfere with leptin reaching the brain to give it the message we’re full and it’s time to stop eating. The brain simply does not get the message leptin is supposed to deliver…that the stomach is full. That’s why our appetite is not suppressed, and we keep on eating. This is called “Leptin Resistance”.
There is good news though. We have the ability to re-balance these hormones! It’s not just about calorie restriction and willpower however. We need to make some changes in what we are eating that’s interfering with the messages received (or not received) by our brains so our hunger hormones keep our weight at a healthy level.
Here are suggestions to help you reset your hunger hormones. First and foremost, we really need to eliminate sugars from our diet. This includes simple starches (bread, pizza, etc.) and refined foods because they all end up as sugar. Get a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night as studies have shown ghrelin levels increase when you’re sleep deprived! Eat healthy fats – not lots of saturated fats and definitely not trans fats which may be hidden in processed foods (even when they loudly proclaim fat free on the front of the package). We all need to learn to read food labels.
What not to do…Don’t skip meals. We all do this hoping it will help us lose weight, and we are actually sabotaging ourselves. Our metabolism becomes disrupted, because when you skip a meal, it puts us into a fasting state. Our bodies think we are starving and to save you from that fate, they hang onto the fat you’re trying to lose!
What to do instead? Eat smaller regular meals. This actually helps kick-start your metabolism into high gear and helps burn calories.
There are vitamins you can take to help reset your hunger hormones and food you can eat to help suppress your appetite. I have an extensive list for you that you can download from my website. It’s in the Resources section of the menu. Just look for “Vitamins and Foods for Hormone Reset”.
Cheryl A Major lives in Westford and is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. Her TV show Thin Strong Healthy airs on WestfordCat and is an offshoot of her blog http://ThinStrongHealthy.com Cheryl offers ongoing information and personal health coaching to help you feel better and be healthier. Follow Cheryl on Twitter @CherylAMajor. She is also a full time residential Realtor with Coldwell Banker with more than 25 years experience.
Questions? Email Cheryl at [email protected] and be sure to put Health Question in the subject line. Your question and its answer will be included in a future article.