Hormones are chemicals that control our bodies’ processes, they are a part of the endocrine system and we have no direct control on these but we can manipulate them by what the things we put into our bodies and the activity we do.
There is still a lot of research going into the leptin hormone but some things we know are that it has a significant effect on our metabolism due to it monitoring the levels of energy our body has or needs. Leptin is released by our fat cells and is received by the hypothalamus glands, the lower the amount of leptin being released the more we will feel hungry, If leptin was absent hunger would be relentless. The more adipose tissue (body fat) a person has the more leptin is released due to the body seeing that it has enough energy, this is why after exercise we often get a feeling of hunger if we don’t eat.
So I hear you asking if leptin is released in the body how do people get obese? Well there has been some research that shows certain things can affect the ‘Leptin Pathway’ one of these is fructose, fructose is a sugar found mostly in fruit but is also in:
Sauces (tomato, bbq, ranch etc)
Ice cream sauces
Fructose causes the levels of triglycerides in the blood to be higher which inhibits the leptin making its way to the brain. Not enough sleep can also affect the leptin pathway due to the higher amounts of cortisol (the stress hormone) being released this causes a lower amount of leptin being present as well as an increased amount of insulin which makes more triglycerides in the blood again this will affect the reception of leptin by the brain.
Severe calorie restriction also has a negative effect on the levels of leptin released. These type of diets make our bodies release less leptin making us feel hungrier. This can make getting leaner really difficult and often causes the end result being completely opposite to what was expected. This is why people who do fad crash diets and supplement diets (e.g. Herbalife) never keep the weight they have lost off.
Leptin production is hugely important in the body, it not only affects the amount of food our body feels it needs, which has a direct impact on body fat and our health but it also plays a part in our libidos, fertility, our immune system and puberty. This is one of many reasons why we should eat a healthy balanced diet and lead a healthy lifestyle.
There has also been studies that have shown the chemical MSG which is heavily used by the KFC fast food chain and largely associated with Chinese food may be causing our bodies to become more resistant to Leptin. The study suggests a high amount of MSG intake is causing damage to our hypothalamus gland in the brain. The physical damage that MSG is causing to our hypothalamus receptor reduces the amount of leptin received in the gland, this tricks the body into believing it needs more energy, therefore the hunger response triggers, that is why many of us never have that ‘full feeling’ for long after a Chinese Buffett, even if we have put 10 plates of spring rolls and udon noodles away an hour later the body still feels it doesn’t have enough energy due to the MSG’s effect on our hormones and therefore makes us feel hungry again.
Personal trainer @ Liverpool Personal Training studios
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