Hormones in our body tell us when our tummy is full or not! You may not have heard about leptin or ghrelin. These hormones are fascinating. Leptin acts as a policeman, and the other, ghrelin as a stimulant. Quite interesting, isn’t it? Leptin was discovered in the year 1994, while ghrelin was discovered in 1999.
Leptin is a hormone messenger that has quite a bit of influence on our bodies. Hormones are chemical constituents of the body that are used to carry messages through the blood to multiple organs, tissues, muscles, and so on. It sends signals to our brain via the pituitary, the signals relay the message that the food intake is proper and the body’s dietary requirements are fulfilled. It's also called the satiety hormone. Leptin is important because it also helps the body to control insulin production and helps the body burn fats into energy. People must thank good old leptin for their robust metabolism. Leptin is almost always present in our body but its concentration depends on the time and the amount of food consumed. Adipose tissues or Fat cells store leptin. When the stomach has enough food the hormone is released into the bloodstream and then it travels to the brain. The brain detects leptin as a signal that the body has enough food to be used as fuel.
According to Wajahat Mehal (MD, Ph.D.), scientist and doctor at the Yale metabolic health and weight loss program, leptin helps the brain to realize that the body has fats to burn and enough energy reserves. The excess needs to be kept out of the cells.
Leptin is mainly a suppressant for hunger. It maintains the long-term balance between food intake and energy burning. It inhibits hunger and balances out the calories that we so cautiously measure while eyeing the dessert bowl. Leptin acts after taking food, not before it. One of its main roles is weight control.
Obese people may have leptin resistance due to which their hunger satiety levels are not normal and the body doesn’t burn the excess energy or curb the excess hunger. Leptin resistance contributes to obesity and diabetes. It also has an effect during weight loss. The loss of adipose tissue in the body decreases the leptin levels, and makes the body think that it's starving. The brain interprets this and ultimately results in the stimulation of hunger again.
Leptin not only affects hunger and metabolism but also our endocrine system and the stimulation of the immune system.
High leptin levels are associated with diseases like:
Fatty liver diseases
Addiction to food
Lower levels of leptin or hyperleptinemia are associated with diseases like:
Chronic bacterial infections
Hyper insulin production
Fatty liver diseases
Hormones are so unique and fascinating, they can control how you feel, the feeling of hunger and satiety both! They may be called chemical messengers but actually, they are like soldiers controlling every minute part of our functions.
Dr. Upasana Datta, Advisory Board Member, Department of Research and Development, Uttoran Foundation, West Bengal, India
Ghrelin is the stimulatory hormone produced by the stomach, small intestine, and pancreas. Its functions include signaling the brain, and the hypothalamus, that the stomach is empty and it's time to eat. The levels of ghrelin are expected to increase between meals. It helps the body to store body fats. It also acts upon the pituitary gland to trigger the release of growth hormones and bone formation. Ghrelin has a role in maintaining the insulin level in the body. Just like leptin, it has a role in controlling metabolism as well as, protecting the muscles from weakness. Ghrelin also keeps balance in our digestive systems.
It can also be said that leptin and ghrelin act to keep cardiovascular diseases in check since they control obesity, metabolism, cholesterol, and insulin production. These factors one way or the other impacts our heart.