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Ghrelin: Turning Off the “I’m Hungry” Hormone

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What is Ghrelin?
Ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone, turns on when the stomach is hungry or thinks it is hungry. The secretion of too much ghrelin gives an individual the craving to eat constantly.

Other Hormones that Influence Ghrelin
Ghrelin secretion can be influenced by three other hormones: melatonin, insulin, and leptin.

Melatonin- When an individual is lacking in sleep, melatonin levels can be thrown off. Melatonin influences the secretion of both leptin and ghrelin. So, not enough sleep can cause an excess amount of ghrelin, which tricks our bodies into thinking we are still hungry.

Leptin- Leptin is an appetite suppressor. It is responsible for telling the brain when an individual is full. If there is not enough leptin in the body, hunger will not shut off, and we will continue to eat.

Insulin- When insulin levels are impaired, sugar is not properly used in the body. This can increase ghrelin levels, causing hunger even when we are not truly hungry.

How to Make Dietary Changes to Turn Off the “I’m Hungry” Hormone
Dietary choices can influence our ghrelin levels. A high-sugar diet with an insufficient amount of protein and fiber can throw off ghrelin levels. Fructose is the most important sugar to avoid as it has no effect on shutting our ghrelin hormone off. Ghrelin does not recognize fructose as food that is filling us up.

There are some great food options to add to the diet to help keep ghrelin levels in check…

Foods to Eat:
1. Eggs- protein rich, a great meal for when you wake up in the morning
2. Artichoke- very high in fiber (it contains twice the amount of fiber as kale), it is also a prebiotic, helping to feed the good bacteria in the gut
3. Oats- a great alternative to cold cereals, it contains fiber, which helps with inflammation
4. Oysters- high in zinc, which works hand in hand with leptin to control appetite
5. Halibut- all fish can help with ghrenlin levels, however, halibut is the best fish option as it helps leptin communicate with the brain efficiently
6. Rooibos Tea- contain the flavonoid, Aspalathin, reducing stress hormones that have been known to create hunger
7. Red Apples- high in fiber, which can reduce inflammation
8. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)- taking a couple tablespoons of ACV with a meal can reduce an increase in blood sugar by slowly releasing sugar
9. Boiled Potatoes- boiling and chilling potatoes creates resistant starch which delays hunger as the body takes longer to break it down

Our diet and sleep can greatly effect the feeling of always being hungry. Getting a sufficient amount of sleep each night and adding foods rich in protein and fiber and low in sugar can help regulate our ghrelin levels.

Too learn more about your hormone levels, contact Balanced Health at 612-812-9121.