Ghrelin Part 2- More on The Hunger Hormone

Yesterday in Part 1 I introduced ghrelin, your hunger hormone.  Scientists know that ghrelin sends hunger signals to the hypothalmus, and they are investigating its role in weight management.  More importantly, ghrelin is our body's natural hunger messenger.  You can benefit if you learn to listen and eat by its call.  Here's the rest of the story.
flickr photo from mr. p
Ghrelin’s Regulation: A weight loss therapy?
Have you ever noticed that you feel hungrier when you are dieting?  Scientists now know that ghrelin levels increase during weight loss, explaining why people have a hard time losing weight and keeping it off.  Scientists also know that decreasing ghrelin can help people lose weight. 
In 2002 David Cummings, MD Associate Professor of Medicine from the University of Washington, noticed unusually low ghrelin levels in gastric bypass patients.  After surgery many patients lost their appetite.  Cummings tracked a group of patients for six months and found that ghrelin levels temporarily decreased, leading to a limited window of drastic and quick weight loss.  Since 2002, many scientists have confirmed ghrelin’s helpful role in weight loss, and now scientists are looking for ways to decrease ghrelin without the bariatric surgery to make weight loss easier and faster.
            Although this idea is exciting, researchers still do not know how to control ghrelin for weight loss. Some scientists are trying to develop a drug to block the ghrelin receptor in the hypothalamus, which would intercept the hunger message.  Other researchers are testing insulin, which may compete with ghrelin and stifle its hunger signals.  But until the research is done, a ghrelin weight loss therapy is only a theory.
Ghrelin’s Lesson: Listening—the key to eating and stopping.
            Hunger is your body’s reminder to maintain energy balance.  Hunger is good.  Hunger is natural.  Unfortunately, hunger may not always guide your eating habits.  That’s because your brain is easily distracted by many delectable smells, convenient nibbles, and stress-induced cravings—in such a mess, hunger can hardly be heard. 
It’s time to listen to ghrelin and eat mindfully.  That means eating smartly.  It’s actually an old game with only two rules.  Rule one: Eat when you are physically hungry.  This separates hunger from boredom, stress, or depression.  True hunger is helpful.  Listen to it, and respond by choosing healthful foods.  Rule two: Stop eating when you are full.  This second principle requires an equally fine sense of hearing.  The human body is sensitive to its own energy needs, and has complex hormonal signals to control appetite.  Have faith: ghrelin will stop and appetite will decrease as food goes through your digestive system.  When it does, be ready to put down the fork.
So the next time you feel your stomach churn, don’t grumble.  It’s only ghrelin.  Thank it, listen to it, and realize that it’s just doing its job.
And to finish...3 Hunger Tips!
You can't control the environment, but you can control those hunger pangs.
Eat protein first.  Protein takes 3 hours to digest, but carb takes only 30 mintues.  Protein wins!  It will keep you full for longer.
Eat fiber.  Fruit and vegetables are high in insoluble fiber, low in calories, and have water volume-the perfect combo for a filling snack.  Oats and barley have soluble fiber that binds to water in your stomach, making you feel fuller.
Eat frequently.  Feeding your body throughout the day stabilized blood sugar levels.  Try 3 smaller meals with 2 high-protein snacks.
Today and yesterday's posts were taken from a paper I did last semester.  Hope it was informative!
-Rachel

31 comments:

famishedtofantastic said...

I first heard of Ghrelin on Dr. Oz. It is kind of scary however to think Dr.s are trying to come up with something to stop peoples natural Ghrelin. Like you mentioned in your paper insulin may take over. The body is incredibly adaptible and I think if medicine messes too much with nature we may end up with worse problems. Your tips are great and I think knowledge, practice and support to those who need it around food is key! Thanks for sharing!!!!

Rachel said...

Thanks Brooke! I cpmpletely agree with you. Knowledge, practice and support are key!

moretolifethanlettuce said...

great tips! so awesome that you're in grad school for nutrition, i'm considering doing that once i finish up my undergrad :).

Emily said...

we studied a lot about ghrelin/leptin and neurohormonal regulation during our obesity unit. i always remember that ghrelin makes you want to "gobble." :-)

we also looked at studies that found ghrelin increases in correlation with lack of sleep. i've always thought this interesting in light of all the attention to "listen to your body" and mindful eating, etc. sometimes, our bodies can be tricked into thinking they need more calories than they actually do.

swankyrd said...

Thanks for the refresher. That is interesting that they noticed decreased levels in patient who had bariatric surgery.
Food for thought!

Kim at Rustic Garden Bistro said...

Protein first, protein first, protein first. Wow, say that three times fast. Thanks for the refresher on the hunger tips!

Kasey said...

Very interesting about the study with bariatric patients. I look forward to more research on Ghrelin.

Coffee and Vanilla said...

Very interesting and great tips! Thanks for sharing this... :)

Have a nice day, Margot

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Disclaimer. I am not a Registered Dietitian yet. I provide nutrition information intended for the general public, not for the treatment of a specific medical condition. I try to use scientific research and reliable sources when forming my opinions and messages.
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