Ghrelin is a hormone produced in your stomach, signaling the brain that your tummy is empty and you are hungry. Once the hormone is released in your gut, it will travel through your bloodstream to the brain, stimulating you to eat food. The hormone is produced in the stomach, small intestine, and pancreas. Ghrelin functions include regulating the appetite, controlling insulin levels, and protecting your cardiovascular health. The primary function is to increase the appetite and that’s why ghrelin is often referred to as the “hunger hormone.” Here, we discuss ghrelin functions, causes, and effectiveness.

Why is the ghrelin important?

Ghrelin plays a significant role in regulating calorie intake and fat levels in the human body. The hormone levels increase between mealtimes and decrease when your stomach is full. More secretion of the hormone will affect the hypothalamus of your brain and you will end up eating a large amount of food. Hypothalamus is a part of your forebrain below the thalamus which coordinates both the nervous system and the pituitary activity, controlling thirst, hunger, and other homeostatic systems. 

Ghrelin functions

Other than regulating human appetite and body fat levels, ghrelin performs other numerous functions which are:

  • It helps in pituitary gland secretion, triggering the gland to secrete anterior pituitary hormones including growth hormones.
  • The hormone helps in regulating insulin, a hormone that controls the amount of glucose in your bloodstream, by controlling insulin secretion levels. 
  • Stimulates the function of your digestive system in moving the consumed food from the stomach to the small and large intestines.
  • Ghrelin has a minor role in protecting your muscles from weakness.

High levels of ghrelin hormone causes

Ghrelin levels typically rise when your stomach is empty and will slowly decrease after you have your meal. 

Despite hunger, the hormone levels also increase if you have started a diet plan to lose weight. This way your body will try to protect itself from starvation. The hormone will make it harder for you to lose pounds by triggering you to consume food. 

In addition, some research showed that ghrelin levels rise after your weight loss journey, potentially increasing the risk of more food consumption.

Maintaining healthy levels of ghrelin allow you to eat the adequate amount of food your body needs. 

How to reduce ghrelin hormone?

One can’t reduce ghrelin hormone levels by consuming certain food. Instead, consider following the below elements that could help:

Maintain a healthy weight: Weight plays a key role in metabolic activities. Being underweight or obese increases the risk of several health conditions. Studies show that the hunger hormone level rises during dieting and so it is advisable to maintain a moderate weight. 

Sound sleep: Prioritize your sleep. Poor sleep cycles may increase ghrelin levels.

High-protein diets: Daily consumption of food containing highly enriched protein will make you feel fuller and this way you can reduce ghrelin hormone secretion.

Reduce stress: Chronic levels of stress tend to increase ghrelin secretion. This is the reason behind the fact that people eat more when they experience stress.

Low fructose intake: Consuming foods that are high in fructose may also cause your hunger hormone to secret more. Hence, reduce the intake of fructose.

Bottom Line

Ghrelin is very much essential for a human’s metabolic activities. Consider following the above guidelines to maintain healthy ghrelin levels.