One of the trends in modern life is to live healthy. We put a lot of effort into breathing cleaner air, drinking better water, sleeping on the right mattress, moving a lot, and eating right. Let’s try to understand how our body basically determines the need for food, how it knows when it has had enough.
And, of course, to what extent we can consciously adjust these mechanisms.
We all know that food contains proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins that our body needs to maintain vital functions, growth, development, and adaptation to new conditions, and therefore we must have enough material to build the body itself (new cells) and energy (ATP molecules) for biochemical processes in it (muscle contraction, formation and transformation of compounds, signal transmission by nerves).
It would be very foolish to rely only on the resource that is freely available here and now. Therefore, the body has, and constantly maintains in adipose tissue, a supply of fat, the breakdown of which produces a lot of ATP. Fat is formed directly from the foods we consume (oils, butter, etc.), as well as from carbohydrates in our diet (flour products, potatoes, sugar, desserts). The brain controls fat reserves.
One of the nuclei of the hypothalamus (a part of the brain responsible for regulating the body’s life support systems and hormone production), the satiety center, is sensitive to the level of the hormone leptin in the blood, which is produced by adipose tissue cells. If there is enough leptin, you don’t feel hungry. In addition, the same part of the brain analyzes the amount of glucose and amino acids in the blood, and if there is enough of them, then the appetite does not increase.
The hormone cholecystokinin, secreted by intestinal cells after a meal, also suppresses appetite by affecting the satiety center. So, we don’t want to eat as long as we have enough nutrients in our blood and our body has enough fat.
As soon as the amount of blood glucose and amino acids decreases, the body, trying to cope with the internal reserve first, begins to look for them around. We feel hungry. This feeling is intensified by signals from an empty stomach (that grumbling that is inevitable when there was no time/ability/desire to eat), as well as by the hormone ghrelin, which is released into the bloodstream by the cells of a “hungry” stomach.
All these signals activate another part of the hypothalamus – the hunger center, and it, acting on the cerebral cortex, provokes appropriate behavior (looking for lunch), while preparing the digestive system for this (salivation increases, other digestive juices are secreted, intestinal peristalsis accelerates).
That is, the brain receives objective information about the need to replenish nutrient reserves, forcing us to satisfy this need through subjective feelings and behavior. I would like to note that this biological need is so dominant that it suppresses our other activities (very few people can completely abstract from the feeling of hunger). So we have to eat, because we are wired that way. And eat a variety of foods. And with fat, too. But the amount of food we eat can be adjusted to our desire to look beautiful and healthy.
A few tips for proper nutrition:
Good nutrition – chew slowly
Chewing slowly will stimulate the satiety center in the hypothalamus before the food reaches the stomach. There is evidence that overeating, by activating the endocannabinoid system, leads to even more food consumption and obesity.
Proper nutrition – do not rush to eat everything at once
True saturation, i.e. the entry of nutrients into the bloodstream, as well as the analysis of their amount by the brain, occurs a little later after swallowing food. Therefore, it is better to eat a smaller portion and wait 20-30 minutes, and then listen to your body again. You probably won’t feel hungry.
Proper nutrition – eat small portions frequently
If you eat frequent small meals, your stomach will be empty less time, which means it will reduce the release of ghrelin, which, let me remind you, stimulates appetite.
Eat right – switch to a healthy or dietary diet gradually
The less fat you have in your body, the more pronounced your eating behavior will be. That’s why it’s so hard to satisfy your appetite when losing weight.
Let’s work on ourselves, but gradually and in moderation. Because in addition to leptin, which suppresses appetite, adipose tissue provides raw materials for the formation of sex hormones, bile acids, immunomodulatory substances, and is also a source of energy in the stress response.
Proper nutrition – maintain energy balance
We should eat as much as we spend. Calorie intake should cover our basal metabolism (the minimum amount of energy needed to stay alive, calculated based on body weight, age and height) and the so-called working allowance (the calories needed for physical or mental activity). The rest is simple math :). Obviously, during illness, pregnancy, or breastfeeding, you need to add a reserve.
If you want to eat less, sleep enough
To eat less, you need to get enough sleep. Studies show that poor sleep leads to increased ghrelin secretion, and thus increased appetite.