Being capable by being healthy – The Hunger Cycle: Insulin, Leptin and Ghrelin

Read the previous article

Keeping insulin in check, is very important from a health perspective. As you already know, insulin is the cause of being fat, because insulin is the hormone that opens up the cells to get food in from the bloodstream. The more insulin you have, the stronger the fat storing effect is. The problem is, that the food we can buy at the shops today, are mostly processed food, created for mass consumption. Processed foods are different than whole foods. Processed foods are almost like pre-digested food, the nutrients in them are cleaned from its original structure. So, when you digest processed food, your body doesn’t need to break it down too much, it can pump it in to your blood stream much faster than whole foods. Because of that, the food we eat today raises our insulin levels 2-4 times higher, than the food we ate before industrialization. The industrialization in food processing started from the beginning of the 20. Century, that’s about a hundred years. The human body needs generations to adapt to a new lifestyle, we just haven’t got the time to adapt to this new type of food. Our digestive system is still built for whole foods with complex macro and micro nutrient profiles, if we eat mostly processed foods, our insulin spikes will be 2-4 higher than it should be, and we won’t be getting all the nutrients we need. Its like eating sugar for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you will get sick eventually, and that’s in the data! Coronary Heart Disease was very rare, before the 20. Century, it only became pandemic in the last century, once mass food production was introduced.

Keeping insulin low is very important for the hunger/satiation signals in our body too. In our body we have a hunger hormone called Ghrelin, and a satiation hormone called Leptin. These hormones are used to communicate how much food we need to consume. If these signals are properly sent and received, we feel hungry when we need to eat, and we feel satiated once we eaten enough. But, the problem with these signals is that they can be easily disturbed by high insulin, lack of sleep and many other factors. For example: leptin is a hormone that fat cells excrete to send satiation signals to the brain to stop eating. Every neuron in our brain that has an insulin receptor, has a leptin receptor too, they co-localize completely, there is a 100% overlap. If our insulin is too high, our leptin receptors become blind to leptin and can’t receive leptin anymore, and we become leptin resistant.

If our body can’t send signals to our brain to stop eating, we will stay hungry, so we eat more, raising our insulin to higher and higher levels. When that happens, we eat till we physically can’t put any more food down to our stomach. High insulin is basically blocking leptin receptors, that is why, it’s important to keep our insulin low or moderate, if insulin is at a moderate level, our neurons can see leptin too, and we just naturally don’t eat that much. Ghrelin the hunger signalling hormone works a bit different. When our stomach is empty, Ghrelin goes up to our brain to signal we are hungry. We eat, Ghrelin goes down, and that reduces our hunger, but does not induce satiety. Hunger and satiety are two different concepts. Satiety in this case only comes at the end of the intestine. So, we eat, and that food has to travel 22 feet or about 7 meters in the intestine before it reaches the end of it. At the end of our testiness, specialized cells than secrete a hormone called peptide YY, which circulates through our blood stream, goes to our brain, and tells our hypothalamus, which controls eating, that we had enough, meal is over. As you see, this route takes a lot of time. So, if you eat a portion of food, it is advised to wait about 20 minutes before you go for the next portion. That way, you can give enough time to feel satiated if you ate enough. Also, if you take moderate amount of Fibers in with your other nutrients, the travel time to the end of your intestines shortens, because Fiber creates more bowel movement, so the food travels faster.

To be continued…

If you liked what you read please checkout our cooking course! Autodidakta did a co-production with chef Locskay to create a course about our 10 favorite Hungarian recipes. The course cost less than a meal in a restaurant and you can donate to us by buying our course. You can get it on our site with PayPal or you can visit Udemy and get it there with many other options for checkout!


Share this:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *