Leptin and Ghrelin – the true cause for overweight?

You have probably heard that processed food changes your biology or slows down your metabolism. 

Have you heard about Leptin and Ghrelin yet? Those two hormones are talked about a lot and they are used to explain overweight. 

Ok, let’s bring something to mind first, hormones are substances produced by one of your organs. They are then released into our blood stream. Hormones swim in your blood until they get in contact with their target organ and finally trigger a specific reaction in that target organ.

When your fat cells contain enough fat, they produce and release the hormone Leptin.  The target organ for Leptin is the brain and the specific reaction in the brain is to reduce hunger. So in translation, the fat cells use Leptin to signal the brain, we have enough energy stored, the body can stop eating.

Ghrelin is a hormone produced and released by the stomach wall. When the stomach get’s filled with food the stomach wall stretches. When the stomach is empty the stomach wall is unstretched. In that unstretched state, the stomach wall produces and releases Ghrelin. The target organ for Ghrelin is the brain, too and the specific reaction is to trigger hunger. The translation is, when the stomach is empty the stomach wall tells the brain to start eating again.

How do those two hormones cause overweight? Well, they don’t.

Overweight people are eating more than other people and from talking to them we know, they feel hunger stronger than normal weight people. Looking at this problem scientifically, it makes sense to look at the hormones that regulate hunger and then use them to explain the cause of overweight.  

So if we wanted to explain the cause of overweight with Leptin and Ghrelin, we would consider that the concentration of Leptin is very low and Ghrelin is very high in overweight people blood. But the opposite is the fact. Overweight people produce a lot of Leptin and therefore have a lot of it in their blood and they produce very little of Ghrelin, so the concentration of Ghrelin is very low. And that is a very normal state. Overweight people have a lot fat, so the body produces a lot of Leptin. Overweight people eat very frequently, so their stomach wall is rarely unstretched. 

Why do overweight people still feel hunger? Now comes this with the slow metabolism. When flooded with so much Leptin the brain get’s tired of it and starts ignoring it. The body develops a leptin resistance. Some experts now argue that this is slow metabolism and therefore people are overweight. In order to lose weight, one has to speed up the metabolism. In my opinion it makes no sense and I don’t understand it. In my understanding, our metabolism always has the same speed, it simply adjusts to the substances we feed it with. 

And it can’t be the cause of overweight. Because nobody is born with a leptin resistance. It develops. 

Leptin and Ghrelin are actually just telling the body if we consumed enough energy. So if that was the only thing important why don’t we stop eating once the stomach and the fat cells are full? 

I say there is another hunger, that we have almost no scientific understanding of yet. It is a hunger for nutrients. 

Just think about how many nutrients there are, all the vitamins and minerals. But there is not one hormone like Leptin that signals the brain: thank you I have enough VitC or another that says: I need more magnesium, please. And our food doesn’t contain just VitC so the brain could crave for just that one particular food to fulfill needs. The nutrient hunger is extremely complex and almost hidden. We can measure the concentration of nutrients in our blood and organs but how do we search for a possible hunger signal that those nutrients initiate?

Those are questions for the scientist. We are interested in making overweight history. We only have to know that a lack of energy, a lack of something that expands our stomach and a lack of nutrients induces hunger. 

Processed unbalanced food only addresses the lack of energy. But processed food usually lacks fibre so it doesn’t expand the stomach wall efficiently and for the long term. As a result, one has to constantly eat to extant the stomach wall effectively to stop the production of Ghrelin. And processed unbalanced food doesn’t contain enough nutrients, so even if the stomach wall is extended, the hunger doesn’t stop.

You don’t have to change anything about your biology or your metabolism if you want to lose weight. You just have to eat balanced, so you actually fulfill all your bodies needs for energy, fibre and nutrients to stop the hunger. 

Changing your diet from unbalanced to balanced is a true challenge and I created the course „Wisdom of Food Providing“ to help you do it. Check it out here!


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