In the development of obesity or when we seek to lose weight, we must consider that many hormones that circulate in our body are involved, one of great importance is called ghrelin that we can regulate to achieve a healthy weight.
What is ghrelin
The ghrelin, also called the hunger hormone because it is decisive in the development of this sensation as well as in the origin of the desire to eat or appetite, it is a substance of great importance in the regulation of body weight and energy balance.
It is the hormone that opposes leptin and therefore, its regulation depends largely on the achievement and maintenance of a healthy weight since its alteration can generate from overweight and obesity to underweight and malnutrition as well.
It acts not only locally via the nerve but mainly in the brain, being able to cross the blood-brain barrier and from there, act by inhibiting the centers that produce satiety and stimulating the appetite as well as food intake.
The functions of ghrelin
Ghrelin is a complex hormone, whose different producing organs are evidenced by pointing to the great variety and places of action of the same.
Not only does it stimulate appetite and hunger, thus being an orexigenic hormone (which favors food intake) but also intervenes by stimulating anabolic hormones, signaling the absence of nutrients, reducing satiety and caloric expenditure.
It has short-term effects on food intake and also long-term on the regulation of body weight, since for example, it stimulates the appetite but also, favors fat storage, energy-saving or a fall in basal metabolism and the search for foods concentrated in calories If, for example, we have lost weight on a calorie-restricted diet, as indicated by a study published in the Venezuelan Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Although its functions related to the energy balance of the body and the regulation of weight and body fat are the most studied, ghrelin also intervenes in the immune system, in the motility and functioning of the digestive system, in bone metabolism, in memory, sleep and many other activities more associated with the survival of our body as Mexican researchers conclude.
As we can see, it is a Complex hormone of great value in the normal functioning of our body, being key to its role in homeostasis or energy balance.
Strategies for reaching a healthy weight
If we know the factors that trigger an increase in ghrelin production as well as those that reduce its expression in the body, we can maintain controlled hunger and appetite levels as well as promote the achievement of a healthy weight.
Some strategies that can help in this regard are:
Get a good night’s rest
Not only getting enough sleep but rather getting quality rest is key so that our body feels like new, without stress the next day. Likewise, US researchers pointed out that insufficient rest raises ghrelin levels and it reduces leptin, which is why adequate sleep is important to achieve a healthy weight.
Poor or little sleep can push us by its influence on the levels of this hormone that stimulates hunger and appetite, to eat more and worse, being decisive in the possibility of gaining weight or, on the contrary, losing weight.
Avoid extreme diets
Diets with a very low caloric value that considerably restrict food intake as well as produce a large drop in weight put the body in “saving mode” and therefore stimulate the release of ghrelin, which indicates to our brain that it is time to save the few calories that are consumed as well as to minimize energy expenditure.
Ghrelin is therefore one of those responsible for the decrease in metabolism that occurs before extreme diets that include very few calories, long periods of fasting, or severe restrictions that only accentuate hunger and cravings.
Perform physical exercise
Perform exercise It is always important when losing weight, not only because it helps us increase calorie expenditure, but also because intervenes in hormones that regulate hunger like ghrelin.
Your practice can promote leptin release and ghrelin reduction in the body, promoting satiety and reducing hunger, something that is key to achieving a healthy weight or losing weight easily, therefore, exercise is another factor to consider to regulate ghrelin levels in the body.
Consumption of alcohol is always recommended as counterproductive to achieve an adequate weight and also to take care of health, even in small quantities. Well, among other things, it modifies hormones that regulate hunger and as a study published in Physiology & Behavior points out, stimulates appetite favoring a positive energy balance.
Reducing the levels of leptin and increasing those of ghrelin, alcohol increases hunger and reduces satiety, being one of the main enemies when it comes to achieving a healthy weight.
This is how you can regulate ghrelin levels to achieve a healthy weight by reducing the feeling of hunger and the desire to eat as well as increasing satiety and daily caloric expenditure.
This article was originally published by Gabriela Gottau in February 2018 and has been revised for republication.
Consulted bibliography | Rev. Venez. Endocrinol. Metab. vol.6 no.2 Mérida Jun. 2008; Rev Med UV, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2008; Ann Intern Med. 2004 Dec 7; 141 (11): 846-50; American Journal of Physiology (Regul Integr Comp Physiol), 296: R29-R35, 2009; Physiology & Behavior, Volume 74, Issue 3, October 2001, Pages 283-289.
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