Insulin and leptin are two of our big hunger hormones. Understandably, an imbalance results in a major and sometimes uncontrollable boost in appetite. And if you don’t stop the pattern now, it will only get worse. Dr. Zane Andrews, a neuroendocrinologist with Monash University’s Department of Physiology, has discovered that key appetite control cells in the human brain degenerate over time, causing increased hunger and weight gain as we age. According to his research, an attack on appetite-suppressing cells creates a serious imbalance between our need to eat and the message to the brain to stop eating. Dr. Andrews found that cells are attacked by free radicals after eating, and the degeneration is more significant following meals rich in carbohydrates and sugars. Moreover, the risk of degeneration is highest if you fall within the 25 to 50 age group. Essentially, the neurons that tell you when to stop eating are being killed off by a dangerous weapon on your plate—carbs!
Mounting evidence shows that, besides their ability to boost metabolism, hormones and neurotransmitters (chemical messengers that work within the brain) are involved in appetite control by acting on the hypothalamus gland, the part of the brain that governs feelings of hunger and fullness. By collecting and processing information from the digestive system, the internal biological clock, fat cells, stress-controlling mechanisms and other sources within the body, the hypothalamus acts as the master switch that tells us when to eat more and when to put down the fork.
With the current obesity epidemic, scientists are striving to understand both our struggle to gain control of our appetite and our tendency to overeat. They certainly have their work cut out for them! The chart below outlines just a few of the countless complex factors that influence our need to feed!
Chart Showing factors that spark appetite and factors that quiet your appetite.
Want some simple rules to live by if trying to curb your appetite. Read this Clear Medicine blog!