Hormones are a hot topic in the health blogosphere. This post is going to explain what different hunger hormones are, and what they do. Please note this is not an exhaustive list, but rather, a brief overview of those commonly discussed in colloquial and health-related literature to help you understand what exactly they do to help keep you maintaining the gloriousness that is homeostasis.
You have probably heard of some hunger hormones, including ghrelin, insulin, and leptin. I hope this posts gives you a deeper understanding of what they are and what they do in your body.
Please note that this post is not about reproductive health, nor directly about reproductive hormones. I will address how eating impacts reproductive hormones / health in an upcoming post about PCOS/HA, but I felt this post was useful to lay the groundwork for that future post, as well as other upcoming posts about starvation metabolism and keto-dieting.
I hope this post gives those who are curious a small glimpse into some of many biological factors at play that impact human hunger and satiety. I hear a lot of language that applauds ignoring these cues, which confuses me once you overriding your hunger and fullness cues longterm can cause you to feel really out of touch with what your body needs. But more on that in another post.
For now, let’s dive into hunger hormones 101:
*Disclaimer: As always, this is general information intended for healthy adults. Your needs may vary based on medical status, lifestyle, or life-stage. Please never replace generalized health information you’ve read online with individualized clinical care.
PS: If you are interested in reading about the difference between hunger and appetite and fullness vs satisfaction, click here.
This is known as the ‘hunger hormone.’ Ghrelin is released by cells in your stomach and intestine to stimulate appetite when calorie signals are low. The hypothalamus (a small region in your brain that is responsible for many homeostatic processes) contains a region ghrelin receptors to sense when levels increase.
Basically, ghrelin is your body’s way of saying “Hey! You up there! Feed me! I am hungry!” Your body needs food as fuel for everything you do, from walking to exercising to those important life-maintaining tasks such as breathing, pumping blood all throughout the body, digesting food, and maintaining normal brain function.
Therefore, when your ghrelin is high and your body is telling you to eat, I suggest you do so as to not override your body’s homeostatic functions!
As a meal is consumed and absorption begins, ghrelin secretion quickly declines. Your hypothalamus no longer gets a need-to-feed signal and your hunger decreases.
Ghrelin also plays other roles in your body, including decreasing the energy your body devotes to temperature regulation. That’s why you often hear of people who are undereating or dieting as constantly being cold.…