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All about Hunger

Published

2nd March 2020

Feeling Hungry? That’s your hunger hormones at work!

Sometimes no matter how much we eat we constantly feel hungry but on the other hand we also need food to survive. It’s about getting the right amount of food at the right time and that’s where our brains come in. It dictates everything from thinking, behaving and feeling. There is a continual relationship between body and brain. In other words, how we are feeling is influenced by our brain which tells us how to interpret them.

What Controls our Hunger

The region in the brain which controls hunger is the hypothalamus. It is located on the surface under of the brain and lies just below the thalamus and it is attached by a stalk onto and above the pituitary gland.

One main function of the hypothalamus in a human is to maintain the stable and constant condition of the body.  It provides the response for both internal and external factors including body temperature, hunger, feeling full up after eating, blood pressure and levels of hormones in the circulation. The hypothalamus collates the information and corrects imbalances.

An extremely complex part of the brain around the size a pea, it has nerve cells within it. When activated, they produce the sensation of hunger by producing two proteins that cause hunger. These are neuropeptide Y (NPY) and agouti-related peptide (AGRP). Very close to this set of nerves is another cluster that inhibit hunger. Two different proteins are produced that inhibit hunger. These are cocaine and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) and melanocyte-stimulating hormone (αMSH). Whether you fee hungry or not depends on the activity between these two sets of neurons.

The dominance of either one of these neurons is mainly controlled by hormones that circulate in the blood. These come from tissues in various parts of the body that deal with energy intake and storage, including the intestines, the fat and the pancreas. Ghrelin and leptin are major hormones that regulate hunger.

Ghrelin

This hormone is produced from the lining of an empty stomach. By acting on the neurons in the hypothalamus to increase the activity of the hunger-causing nerve cells whilst at the same time producing a reduction in the activity of hunger-inhibiting cells it stimulates hunger. As the stomach empties, the production of ghrelin is increased but as soon as the stomach receives food, it decreases.

Leptin

Leptin is responsible for signalling to the hypothalamus that there is enough food and fat in the body. If you’re hungry all the time, it’s likely that your adipose or fatty tissues are producing incorrect amounts of leptin. Obesity can be caused by less effective communication of Leptin or if the hypothalamus has become resistant to the signals sent by the hormone.

Insulin

Insulin controls sugar levels and suppresses your hunger. If you feel hungry and weak, your sugar levels have dropped significantly. A shaky feeling means your body requires sugar. Also, when there is a high level of sugar in your blood, the sugar level is controlled through the release of insulin which guides sugar to where it is needed.

You will never go hungry at the Gascony Cookery School! Join us on a cookery course and we guarantee you will be continuously tempted by all the fresh ingredients, tasty recipes and hearty meals we prepare together.

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