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Stomach Hormones and Appetite

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 27 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Hormones Stomach Satiety Research

It may seem like a simple concept – we feel hungry and we eat until we feel full. But why do some people seem destined to overeat while others moderate their intake and maintain a healthy, normal weight?

Hormones for a Healthy Weight

The answer lies, in part, within our hormones. Appetite is regulated by many factors and your hormones play a key role in triggering hunger and fullness. Researchers have known for some time now that a number of hormones affect our appetites.

It is thought that when these hormones are in excess or deficient, weight regulation is compromised. The result is that maintaining a healthy weight can be significantly more difficult for people who have irregular hormones when it comes to appetite.

Ghrelin to Trigger Appetite

Ghrelin is a hormone that is secreted by cells in the stomach, particularly when you are hungry. It influences a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, triggering your need to eat. Another hormone called leptin counteracts ghrelin by reducing your need to eat.

Somatostatin to Slow Things Down

Somatostatin is found in cells of the stomach and it acts on the stomach to keep a hormone called gastrin from being released. It also has effects on other hormones as well as the pancreas. The direct effects of somatostatin combined with the effects on other hormones causes a slower rate of nutrient absorption from the intestine.

Cholecystokinin (CCK) for Fullness

The hormone CCK comes into action when certain cells are exposed to the food you are eating. CCK acts on other parts of the body such as the pancreas to get your digestive enzymes flowing.

It also acts on the brain to give you a feeling of satiety. The result is that you feel full and stop eating although if this hormone isn't working as it should, overeating could be an issue.

Gastrin for Normal Body Weight

Gastrin has been connected to your body's ability to keep at a normal weight while also maintaining the right levels of insulin. Some experiments have suggested that when gastrin is deficient, obesity is more likely to result along with abnormal insulin levels. On top of that, researchers found it increased the risk of colon cancer.

Incretins for Fullness

Incretins have been in the news more in the last few years as research is focusing in on this area. When you eat, the release of incretins occurs – the key ones being GLP-1 and GLP. The result is that your body has a better ability to use glucose to trigger insulin use. Your stomach is emptied more slowly so you feel fuller. Also, your appetite is suppressed, reducing your desire to continue eating. There is even a treatment currently on the market that has a similar action to GLP-1 and it lasts even longer. It's approved for use in people who have type 2 diabetes.

Neuropeptide Y for Appetite Stimulation

We now are aware that Neuropeptide Y plays a key role to stimulate appetite and eating. It also increases fat cells from ingested food. It plays a further interesting role that researchers have seen in laboratory animals, where it calms them when they are exposed to high-stress situations. It is thought that Neuropeptide Y could link to emotional overeating.

Peptide YY3-36 to Reduce Appetite

Peptide YY3-36 has the opposite action of Neuropeptide Y, where it reduces the desire to eat. After eating, it's released by cells in your intestine. How much you eat will affect how much is released; it goes up when you eat more calories, particularly protein ones. It's thought to be one reason that some higher protein diets have the effect of reducing appetite and promoting satiety.

Normal Hormone Regulation

There is still much research at work to find out more about hormones and how they affect your appetite, which could lead to future treatments that help regulate these important hormones. The result will be more natural ways of helping you to eat a healthy diet, stop when full and achieve the right weight for your body and life.

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