Every week, we ask a medical professional a question about health. This week’s topic: What is hunger? Jacqui van Kmenade, general practitioner and lifestyle expert: “We can affect our feelings of hunger.”
What causes hunger and what is it?
The development of appetite is affected by several hormones and messengers. These “players” control how our food is processed and absorbed. Each player has its place in the digestive system. The PYY, the satiety hormone, is located in the stomach. Ghrelin, the hunger hormone is found in the stomach.
What can you do to influence your feelings of satisfaction?
“It is definitely possible. Certain foods may give the signal that there is not enough food. Fast food, like fast food, is not always well absorbed into the stomach. Therefore, PYY is often less stimulating. This can make you hungry quickly again.
This is because sugars and fast carbohydrates trigger hunger. For a short time, the hunger hormone can be suppressed but then it is triggered again. Sugary snacks also influence the wrong hormones. This is why snacking can make you hungry.
What food makes you feel satisfied?
“Fiber-rich foods. This is because the food ends up in the stomach. This provides good stimulation for PYY, and therefore a full and satisfied feeling.
“How you eat also plays a role. Try not to eat too fast.”
Jacqui van Kemenade, general practitioner
“Other foods that send a stronger and longer-lasting signal to the brain that you are full are proteins and certain healthy fats. Avocado and legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and beans are good satiators. Oatmeal is rich in fiber and protein. Also how you eat , by the way plays a role. Do not eat too fast.
Why is it important to eat slowly?
“Hunger or appetite are not just caused by the stomach, intestines, but fat tissue as well. These important messenger substances ‘talk’ with our brains. Leptin, also known as thin in Latin is one of these important messenger substances. When we eat for approximately twenty minutes, it is produced in our adipose tissues.
Then, it travels through your bloodstream to the hypothalamus. This is the brain part that regulates our hunger and weight. It’s like a thermostat. Leptin tells us that we’ve eaten enough, and we can stop eating. Eat slowly. Now, take a step back and place your fork or knife down so that leptin can properly do its job.
The feeling of hunger seems to be linked to sleep. Is there something to that?
“Little sleep disrupts hunger hormones. One night with less than five hours sleep per night will cause the hunger hormone ghrelin to rise and the satiety hormones to fall. This causes you to feel like you are starving and makes it less likely that your body will give you the signal that you are full. This, along with the fact that sleep deprivation can make you more impulsive and lead to temptation to eat the wrong foods.
Jacqui van Kemmede is a Breda general practitioner. Publishing house Scriptum published her latest book Een shotje lifestyle in October.