Watching mukbang or videos of people eating in new eateries or even cooking one certainly makes us crave for food. Sometimes it goes beyond just wanting to eat it, you may even feel sudden hunger apart from salivating watching such videos. Feeling of hunger is not only here to make us suffer, but it acts as a reminder that you need to eat to keep the bodies fueled and maintain energy levels so that your body can function well throughout the day. It is important to take care of your health by practising healthy eating habits so that your body is in best health.

Do you know that there is a hormone that is responsible for making you hungry? This hormone is known as ghrelin. It is worth noting that there are other hormones that are involved in making you feel hungry but the significant one and the one we are focusing on here is ghrelin.

Ghrelin is a hormone mainly produced by the stomach with small amounts coming from the small intestine, pancreas and brain. Nicknamed as the ‘hunger hormone’, ghrelin stimulates hunger, increases food intake and promotes fat storage. Apart from these functions, ghrelin plays a role in maintaining the blood glucose level and maintaining energy balance (energy homeostasis). Ghrelin also prevents muscle breakdown by releasing growth hormones from the pituitary gland in the brain to break down fat tissue and cause muscle to build-up. It also possesses the protective effect of protecting the heart.

Ghrelin is released when it is triggered by an empty stomach. It is ironic to think that we often feel hungry when we haven’t eaten, may not eat enough or conditions that make us feel hungry such as after watching food videos or smelling food. You can say that ghrelin causes a person to feel the hunger sensation and act as a reminder that it is time to eat. Level of ghrelin increases when a person is hungry. Rise of ghrelin in the blood happens right before a person eats and when a person fast, the timing of these rises is affected by the normal meal routine. Once ghrelin is released and rises, there will be time that it will be low again.

Studies show that certain food such as carbohydrates and protein limit production and release of ghrelin by slowing down releases of ghrelin. Hormones such as somatostatin also restrict ghrelin release. Some studies state that those consuming food high in fructose, a type of sugar found naturally in fruits, vegetables and honey, may trigger ghrelin to increase. High levels of stress and chronic stress may also trigger ghrelin release to become high. Some evidence also shows cannabis triggers release of ghrelin.

By knowing this information, researchers utilise such information to help those with weight issues. . Gastric bypass surgery that reduces a person’s stomach size is considered to be the most effective treatment for severe obesity with life-threatening possibilities. It is found that patients losing weight after such surgery have been discovered to have lower ghrelin levels than those losing weight by other ways such as exercises and diet. Hence, making gastric bypass surgery as the most successful way to help treat obesity.

There is no doubt that surgery that can provide quite an immediate effect can be tempting and seem promising in those wanting to lose weight. However, this kind of surgery is not meant to be for everyone. Most recommendations stated that a person with BMI higher than 35 with one or more obesity related conditions such as diabetes, sleep apnoea and high blood pressure or those with BMI of 40 or higher is required to have surgery. Among the reasons for this bypass surgery not recommended for everyone is due the high cost and the nutrition deficiency that follows.

The good news is, there are other ways to decrease ghrelin besides surgery. You may want to try exercise and practise a healthy diet. Limiting stress such as practising meditation or yoga and having good sleep can help to decrease ghrelin levels. Now you can certainly try to lower your ghrelin levels in a more healthier and practical way and cross your fingers to lose those excessive body weight. For those with other underlying medical conditions, they need to talk with their healthcare provider first before attempting to lose weight using either exercises, diet or supplements on their own. This is important as these attempts may affect their health and the progression of the current treatment.

It can be concluded that ghrelin is a hormone to be blamed for when you feel hungry. Lowering the level of ghrelin can help you manage your body weight easier. Bypass surgery is not recommended for everyone wanting to lose weight. Practising an active and healthy lifestyle not only lowers ghrelin level but also helps you improve both physical and mental wellbeing.

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