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How To Control Your Appetite

There are non-hunger triggers that makes us eat such as scheduled meals, visual food stimuli, compulsive behavioral eating, hedonistic overeating, and social eating and drinking.

We humans have hunger hormones such as ghrelin, insulin (yes it is a hunger hormone), cortisol, glucagon that send signals to the body that it is hungry. Leptin, CCK, PYY, serotonin, adiponectin, GLP-1, and oxyntomodulin (secreted in the colon) hormones send signals that we are satisfied. These hunger hormones may be secreted from the gut, the fat cells, or the brain depending upon which ones they are.

Oleyoethanolamine (OEA) is a metabolite of olive oil produced by us in small quantities in the small intestine. It is part of our endocannabinoid system. Just as the word implies, we have a system of innate cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors that are chemically very similar to those found in the cannabis (marijuana) plant. The function of naturally produced OEA in the small intestine is to send satiety signals from your gut to your brain and to regulate the metabolism of body fat. There is much research underway on this compound to understand its functionally fully and to capitalize on its benefits to help control our gut function and dietary control. Stay tuned with this one!

So how can we naturally manipulate these hormones to our advantage and help control our appetite? There are several foods, drink, and herbs that can assist us. The first one is coffee. Coffee is interesting in that it contains several chemicals including caffeine and chlorogenic acids that have anti-hunger and antioxidant properties. In fact, in a recent study decaffeinated coffee increased PYY. More PYY means less hunger!

CBD and Cannabis help enhance our natural endocannabinoid system, and quite possibly so through OEA. It is interesting that CBD sometimes can add to the satiety aspect, yet the THC component of cannabis can promote hunger in those people who need appetite stimulation.

Another herb to control true hunger is yerba mate since it behaves as a GLP-1 agonist. As a reminder glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is naturally secreted in our ileum and colon. This peptide hormone stimulates insulin to be released by the pancreas, inhibits the release of glucagon from the liver, and slows gastric emptying (giving us the sensation of feeling fuller longer). That is a lot of power packed in one herb!

Garcinia cambogia can work as a fat burner but also can raise levels of serotonin to the brain. More serotonin yields more satiety.

Hoodia gordonii comes from a succulent plant and is used by the Bushmen in the Kalahari when going on long hunts without much food intake. Hoodia fools your brain into thinking it is full by working on a receptor and mildly increasing CCY and leptin.

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is involved in fat breakdown which will send signal to our hunger hormones.

Green tea extract (EGCG) has been touted as a weight loss supplement but thus far we are not quite sure which of the hunger hormones it is affecting. It is also proposed that it speeds up metabolism for the added benefit of weight reduction.

Lesser known caralluma fimbriata from India improves serotonin levels. And as we have been learning, increased serotonin yields a quite satisfied brain which will promote less caloric intake.

There is a precursor compound of 5-HTP that can optimize serotonin because it is necessary to make serotonin. L-tryptophan will convert to 5-HTP, which will convert to serotonin if given all the right ingredients to do so. In this regard, we can supplement with 5-HTP to optimize our serotonin levels.

Gymnema sylvestre is also an insulin sensitizer in that it can help each cell receive insulin better. Reduced insulin levels will promote production of satiety hormones since the cells have satisfactorily received their glucose with cellular metabolism.

Saffron also seems to have its effects 5-HTP and serotonin levels.

Of course, we can’t forget the pharmaceutical influence in the dietary world. For instance, many diabetic medications on the market are now capitalizing on the hunger hormone contribution to weight gain and obesity, which yields diabetes. Ozempic, Trulicity,and Bydureon (and several others) are GLP-1 agonists. An agonist behaves and promotes the effect of the hormone. Therefore, these medications behave as a GLP-1 compound, and we learned earlier in this article how GLP-1 works.

We should share a word about how a stimulant (amphetamines such as phentermine) and Wellbutrin (sometimes paired with LDN) seem to be used for weight loss. These drugs have effects on the pituitary rewards center and work best with the hedonic (hedonistic) eating style. Hedonistic eating is the concept that one is eating for pleasure. These patients are not listening to their hunger hormones and are overriding those signals and simply eating by using food as a reward and pleasure. The drugs and herbs used to work on the hunger hormones may not work with these people because they are using other portions of their brain and brain chemistry to keep eating for other non-hunger triggers. Therefore, some of the amphetamines shut down the brain and tell it that it does not need food as a reward.

Not everyone wants to be taking herbs or medications to control their hunger, and thankfully, there are good choices in food intake that can help us control our hunger hormones. Water intake (at least half of your body weight in ounces/day) helps tremendously!

Making sure there is adequate protein with the meals helps to satisfy the cells and help make the necessary neurotransmitters to promote satiety. High fiber foods help distend the gut and aid in the process of sending out satisfaction hormones. Being heavy handed in the kitchen with the spices sends out many pleasant signals that the body has received enough calories and enough pleasure in the meal.

There are cognitive and behavioral practices that should be employed to help control that waistline. A mindfulness focus could aid in the practice of paying attention to when you are hungry and when you are full. Let us not forget exercise that will suppress some of those hunger hormones!!! Improving sleep and lowering stress will have a huge favorable impact on secretion of healthy amounts of our hunger hormones.

Energetic approaches are being used in so many facets of medicine and weight reduction is no exception. For instance, there are several acupressure points that can help with appetite. Color therapy which is using those wavelengths in the visual spectrum can assist in appetite control. Blue will decrease appetite, so using blue plates, a blue tablecloth or blue kitchen can help. Red on the other hand can stimulate appetite.

Breathing techniques have been shown to help with appetite. Several such tactics include diaphragm breathing, belly breathing, mouth breathing, and “shining the skull” breathing.

Controlling your appetite is within your power and you can find those strategies that resonate with you.