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Hunger: Why a bit of hunger is actually good for you, and how to find the right balance

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Hunger:

Why a bit of hunger is actually good for you, and how to find the right balance

 

Hunger is an innate (and important) aspect of being human. Most will be aware that hunger has historically provided us with the drive to find and consume food, and may also help us gage our needed levels of food intake (when hunger responses are balanced). But did you know that hunger has a range of other amazing benefits too- from improved digestion to balanced blood sugar, reduced cravings, enhanced longevity and much more. However, as most of us have experienced, hunger is quite an unpleasant physical discomfort, and is often the undoing of people’s well-meaning efforts to achieve a healthier body weight. So, how can we better balance hunger to minimise the discomfort and still reap all of the amazing benefits? Read on to find out!

 

What is hunger?

Hunger is controlled by hormones that work in cycles. Ghrelin is responsible for producing feelings of hunger, while leptin is responsible for helping us feel satiated. These hunger hormones naturally fluctuate up and down throughout the day, just as many of our other hormones do (i.e. sleep hormones, digestive hormones, sex hormones). Hunger hormones are not only influenced by our bodies’ need for energy, they are also highly influenced by the type of food we eat, our physical environments, our levels of stress, and much more. Have you ever felt so stressed that you completely lost your appetite, or maybe you went the other way and felt ravenous? This is the perfect example of how other factors can influence our hunger hormones, and how hunger is therefore not always a true representation of our bodies’ needs. 

 

A bit of controlled hunger is actually good for us!

Ample literature indicates that ghrelin (our ‘hunger hormone’) possesses functions  well beyond hunger signals. That is to say that experiencing hunger actually brings with it a wide range of amazing health benefits. Research shows that controlled levels of hunger can positively influence immune function, cognition, cravings, digestion, metabolism, fertility, bone density, gastrointestinal motility, and the cardiovascular system. 

 

How? A number of different mechanisms contribute to the potent benefits of hunger. Hunger before meals boosts levels of growth hormones, which is naturally produced in the pituitary gland and plays a vital role in cell regeneration, growth, and maintaining healthy human tissue, including that of the brain and various vital organs. It also decreases body fat and helps keep us looking and feeling youthful due to its role in stimulating cellular regeneration. 

Digestion:

When we experience hungry stomach rumbles, it’s actually a sign that peristalsis is occurring to enhance digestive capabilities and optimise our internal bacteria. During this sensation, gastrointestinal muscle contractions send waves through the small intestine to help sweep bacteria down toward the large intestine where they belong. If we never allow ourselves to feel hungry, we deprive ourselves of this benefit, putting ourselves at risk for SIBO- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth that causes painful bloating, gas, burping, constipation, and/or diarrhoea. 

Ghrelin (our hunger hormone) has been found to stimulate gastric acid secretion and to increase gastric motility, accelerate gastric emptying, and induce migrating motility complexes in the duodenum. In short, higher levels of hunger hormone enhance our digestive capabilities.

 

Blood glucose and craving balance

Studies show that individuals who were moderately hungry before meals tended to have lower blood glucose levels after consuming the meal than individuals who were not particularly hungry before consuming the meal. As a result, this leads to reduced cravings (which often occur when blood glucose levels are unbalanced and our bodies cry for energy) and lower rates of fat storage (high blood glucose levels would require the functions of insulin to move excess glucose out of the blood and into storage. However, insulin is also a fat storage hormone). 

 

Increased happiness and cognition:

Researchers have been able to demonstrate that those with higher levels of hunger and ghrelin actually experience greater happiness and fewer low moods. Further evidence also shows that short periods of controlled hunger actually has the ability to increase concentration and mental capacity (in situations where people have accepted the hunger, rather than being distracted by it and hyper-focused on it).

It is believed that this occurs as an adaptive measure, one that relates back to our hunter gatherer times when finding food required high levels of energy, concentration and cooperation, which are not conducive with low moods and poor mental function. 

 

Cardiovascular health:

Research shows that hunger hormone ghrelin improves the survival prognosis of myocardial infarction by reducing sympathetic nerve activity. 

 

Muscle health:

Ghrelin has the ability to prevent muscle atrophy (degeneration/shrinkage) by increasing muscle cell division.

 

Bone health:

Ghrelin regulates bone formation and metabolism by modulating the proliferation and differentiation of osteoblasts (cells responsible for laying down new bone matter). 

 

How to use hunger to your advantage:

The good news is that you absolutely do not have to starve yourself to experience these amazing benefits! Letting yourself experience some level of hunger before eating does not mean that you have to feel constantly ravenous. A short period of controlled hunger is enough to produce these benefits. This may involve ensuring a 12-14 hour ‘fasting’ window overnight that allows you to feel some hunger in the mornings before taking your first bite, or even pushing your lunch back by just 30-60 minutes in order to allow hunger to develop. 

 

What if I feel too hungry?:

Controlled hunger is the key here, as excessive hunger may (in some cases) be the undoing of a detox due to the overwhelming need to eat. Therefore, we want to avoid excessive hunger while on your detox (and in the long run too!) to ensure you achieve and maintain your goals. 

So what can you do to reduce excessive hunger and find that happy medium? We have a handful of easy tips to help you strike the perfect balance! 

Detox Drops and Patches:

Our detox drops and patches contain target, natural formulations that not only enhance fat burning and detoxification processes, they also work to balance hunger, cravings, and appetite. 

 

Wait it out:

As we covered at the beginning of this article, hunger hormones naturally fluctuate throughout the day. This means that your ravenous feelings may simply be because your levels of hunger hormone ghrelin are at their peak. Waiting it out may see you through to the dip that is about to come, which also means that feelings of hunger will subside. 

 

Drink water and herbal tea:

Increased volume in our bellies (including fluid) can stimulate our stretch receptors and signal to our bodies that we are not hunger. We specifically recommend our ‘Fat Burning Tea 2’ , which contains natural ingredients (including true cinnamon) that are proven to help balance blood sugar levels and neurotransmitters related to hunger.

 

Add volume to your meals:

While on detox (or in general), increase your intake of cucumber, lettuce and onion to make meals look and feel bigger. This extra volume will help stimulate the receptors in your stomach to send signals to your brain that you’ve had enough and are no longer hungry. Research also shows that those who ate larger looking meals felt fuller than those who ate meals that looked smaller (with the same amount of calories). 

 

Manage stress: 

Our ‘stress hormone’ cortisol also stimulates appetite and increases the intake of highly palatable foods. Managing stress is a fantastic way to help balance our hunger. This may involve spending tie in nature, participating in hobbies, spending more time with loved ones, doing something creative, or taking time out to read a book, stretch, exercise, cook, or anything else that brings you joy!

 

Ensure adequate sleep:

A lack of sleep has been found to trigger increased levels of hunger hormones (ghrelin) and decreased levels of satiety hormones (leptin), leading to increased hunger and appetite.

 

Use CraveLess:

Another one of our SBN favourites, CraveLess is our appetite suppressant formula for when you need a little extra support! CraveLess helps to suppress appetite, curb cravings, boost metabolism, support weight loss, and calm emotions linked to food intake. This formulation contains a homeopathic preparation of Simmondsin (extracted from the Jojoba seed), which has been shown to suppress appetite, reduce food cravings, and significantly decrease overall food intake and weight through recent clinical trials. 

 

Balance is key when it comes to hunger. Striking an idyllic level of controlled short-term hunger will hold you in good stead to both reap the amazing health benefits of increased ghrelin (reduced cravings, enhanced body composition, greater happiness and cognition, and a more youthful appearance), while maintaining the ease needed to achieve and maintain your goals!

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4049314/

https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-abstract/106/1/e375/5930812?login=false

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07853890601149179

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00662.x

https://gut.bmj.com/content/54/11/1638.short

https://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2000/dec/jojoba

https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/12/3215.short

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/72/2/361/4729411?login=false