Hormones are signaling molecules that play a role in a variety of bodily functions. Hormones are released into the bloodstream by glands such as the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal glands. They then go to organs and tissues. Hormones play a role in almost all aspects of health, especially sexual function, development and growth, mood, appetite, and metabolism. As a result, hormonal dysregulation, which occurs when your body produces too little and too much of a hormone, can have a big influence on your health, including your weight.
Hormones and hunger
Hormones assist your body to maintain energy levels by regulating your hunger. Hunger is triggered by certain hormones. Others indicate that you've eaten enough to prevent you from eating more. Weight loss or gain can be caused by an imbalance in appetite-controlling hormones.
When your body requires food, the endocrine and neurological systems initiate a series of events that stimulate food intake. Gastrointestinal hormones, such as motilin, activate a cycle of spasms involved in development of hunger, known as the migration motor complex. The following is a list of some of the most important hormones and other chemicals involved in appetite stimulation:
- Ghrelin: Ghrelin is referred to as "hunger hormone." It activates the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that controls appetite. Ghrelin is linked in the sleep-wake cycle, glucose metabolism, and other processes in addition to influencing food intake.
- Motilin: The hormone motilin is generated in the small intestine. When you're fasting, motilin causes your intestines to contract, signaling your brain that you really need to eat.
- Y-peptide (neuropeptide) (NPY): The brain releases NPY, a peptide that is a short chain of amino acids, to enhance food intake. Hormones such as ghrelin and leptin control NPY production and release.
- Protein that is related to agouti (AgRp): Another peptide generated by the brain is AgRp. Ghrelin stimulates its production, and it serves to boost food intake.
Hormones and body weight
Several hormones in the body are in charge of fat storage and breakdown. Hormones also have an impact on energy expenditure, or how many calories more than your body burns each day. As a result, changes in hormone levels can cause weight loss or gain, as well as the buildup of body fat in specific locations. The thyroid, for example, secretes a hormone called metabolic regulation. The thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone when it is hyperactive.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the body enters a hypermetabolic condition, in which it burns more calories. An underactive thyroid, which is characterized by low thyroid hormone levels, on the other hand, results in lower energy expenditure. Hypothyroidism is the medical term for this condition. This explains why so many people with hyperthyroidism can lose weight while those with hypothyroidism may gain. Insulin is yet another hormone that has the ability to influence body weight. Insulin is required for cells to utilize glucose for energy and store it as glycogen for later use. Insulin is also necessary for the storage of energy as fat and the prevention of fat breakdown in order to sustain body weight. It's crucial to keep insulin levels over a certain range. Insulin resistance occurs when cells stop responding correctly to insulin as a result of chronically increased insulin levels.
According to human and animal research, this can cause problems with hunger and fullness hormones, as well as increased fat accumulation by organs like the liver and a slowed metabolism. Cortisol is a corticosteroid (steroid hormone) that plays a critical function in the stress response in your body. Chronically high cortisol levels, on the other hand, might cause weight gain. Cortisol causes fat to be redistributed to the abdomen and increases hunger, particularly for energy-dense, highly palatable foods high in fat and sugar. Chronically stressed adults and people with Cushing's syndrome, a disorder that causes cortisol levels to rise, have cortisol dysregulation. Other hormones that affect body weight and fat distribution include glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide, leptin, asprosin, and estrogen.
Lifestyle and hormones
Your lifestyle might have a big impact on the hormones that control your weight. Hormonal variations have been linked to diet, activity levels, and chronic stress. The foods and beverages we consume on a regular basis can have a big impact on your overall health, especially your hormonal health. Hormonal dysregulation has been linked to diets high in ultra-processed foods, added sugar, and refined carbs, according to research. Diets high in added sugar, especially sugar-sweetened beverages, have been associated with insulin resistance and raised leptin levels, for example. Furthermore, evidence suggests that high-protein, moderate- to low-carbohydrate diets have a better influence on fullness and hunger hormones versus higher-carb, lower-protein diets.
Diets high in ultra-processed foods and refined sugar may enhance hunger hormones such as NPY while blunting the action of fullness hormones such as CCK. These side effects could lead to binge eating and weight gain. Furthermore, eating a diet high in ultra-processed foods exposes you to hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates. These chemicals were shown to change hormones that control appetite, satiety, and food preferences, as well as promote insulin resistance, all of which can lead to weight gain. Diet can influence the hormones that affect weight gain in a variety of ways. In general, for overall health, including hormonal health, a balanced diet rich in whole, slightly processed foods and minimal in ultra-processed foods and added sugar is preferable.
Hormones regulate body weight through controlling hunger, fullness, metabolism, and fat distribution. Diet, lack of sleep, activity levels, body fat percentage, stress exposure, and medical conditions have all been shown to have an impact on hormonal health in studies. Following a good and balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, detecting underlying medical disorders, controlling stress, and engaging in physical activity are just a few of the scientifically accepted methods for promoting healthy body weight and hormone equilibrium.