When your hunger hormones go haywire.
Unfortunately, the Western lifestyle—loaded with sugar and processed foods and lacking in sleep and exercise—can cause this complex system to go a bit haywire, meaning the signals for being full and hungry don’t work. Instead, the system is driven by cravings for sweets or salt and the desire for the emotional relief food often provides. The result is obesity, insulin resistance, and a whole host of health problems. The good news is that there are ways to get these hormones and peptides back under control. The balance and communication of these hormones can go awry with poor lifestyle habits like these:
1. Too many carbs.
Eating too many simple carbs and foods high in fructose causes the pancreas to continuously release insulin. Over time, hyperinsulinemia can occur, which is where levels of insulin are up for so long that eventually the body’s cells become resistant to its effects—leading to insulin resistance. This means blood sugar levels rise and cells don’t get the energy they need, causing hunger, cravings, low energy, obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Studies have also shown that eating fructose can lead to higher ghrelin levels, leading to more hunger.
Overeating in general will cause the signaling system to go haywire so that the brain doesn’t know when you're actually hungry. Overeating leads to more fat stores, bigger fat cells, and high levels of leptin that are going ignored and leading to leptin resistance. Leptin resistance means that NPY is going uninhibited, leading to constant hunger and more overeating.
3. Sleep deprivation.
Lack of sleep causes leptin levels to fall and ghrelin levels to rise, and alpha-MSH to fall. Lack of sleep may lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, and inflammation.
4. A sedentary lifestyle.
Lack of exercise leads to poor sensitivity of muscle cells to insulin and less energy utilization, which leads to more fat storage. Stress leads to higher cortisol levels, which inhibits the effects of insulin, raising blood sugar levels, and can lead to more eating and weight gain. You might be able to guess, but this is all about inflammation. Poor food choices, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and stress increase inflammation, which is associated with insulin and leptin resistance.