Leptin. Never heard of Leptin? You want to know about Leptin, it’s one cool hormone. Leptin is secreted by fat cells and it is the chemical messenger that tells your brain whether you are too fat or too skinny. When the brain receives the Leptin message, it responds accordingly and sends out silent but irresistable motivational prompts.
If there aren’t enough fat cells to survive a paleolithic famine period, leptin levels will be low. The brain thus responds by directing you to eat more and conserve energy.
If there is an abundance of fat cells, leptin levels will be high. The unconscious directives will be to abstain from eating, and to move that booty to burn off some fuel.
Leptin determines whether you feel hungry or full. Or at least, it is when you are Leptin Sensitive – when those messages are getting through.
We talked about Insulin, and about what happens when the energy-storing cells of the liver and muscles are so full of glycogen that they simply cannot take any more. That the pancreas keeps working overtime to pump out insulin, force-feeding the cells, until finally the body has no choice but to convert the excess into fat. That fat, with nowhere safe to go, starts swimming around in places where it has no right be. Dangerous.
Leptin has a big role in this scene.
If you constantly feed your body carbohydrates, then the body will preferentially burn those sugars for easy energy, rather than burn fat. The resulting build-up of excess glucose and triglycerides in the bloodstream make their way to the brain and block the brain’s ability to hear Leptin’s message. This is Leptin Resistance. It means that the brain is not getting the message that there is all this unused fat swimming around. Without that message, it thinks you are too skinny to survive a paleolithic famine period. So, even though your triglyceride levels are high and your tanks are over-full, the brain keeps sending out the message to eat more and conserve energy. So you do, because the signals are stronger than your willpower. And because your metabolic preference is switched to sugar-burn mode, that’s what you look for. Carbohydrates. More sugar.
This happens even with people who are skinny. It is possible to not have fat on the outside, but to store it on the inside – around the organs, for example.
(I think I’ve been there. For several years I was eating a vegetarian diet with loads of different cereal grains, living my perfect body weight, but ALWAYS, ALWAYS being hungry. I think the only reason I never put on weight was simply because I didn’t give in to the cravings. I knew something was up. We’d eat the same meal, and two hours later The General would be cruising along fine, but I’d be ravenous.)
Let’s sum this up. Eat too many carbs than body can burn or store ➣ Excess triglycerides and glucose block brain receptors ➣ Leptin message doesn’t get through ➣ Brain thinks too skinny ➣ Eat more carbs ➣ High blood sugar levels ➣ No storage space ➣ Over-working pancreas ➣ Insulin resistance.
As you can see, it’s a vicious circle. Or cycle.
And then? The force-fed cells suffer oxidative stress, which damages them. Consquently, the immune system sends out it’s forces to heal and protect the damaged cells. When the Immune System is overworked the result is chronic inflammation, with consequences ranging from seasonal allergies and acne, to autoimmune disease, to cancer.
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Best Wishes, Good Health