Never knew we had hunger switches?
Well we do. Two hormones produced by the bacteria we have in our gut.
The ON switch is ghrelin, which kicks in when we’re getting close to empty and tells the brain to go look for food.
The OFF switch is leptin, which tells us when we’ve had enough, stop eating, the tank is full. And there’s more well-researched stuff about leptin in the link from from Health Ambition editor Helen Sanders in the link below.
As long as these two are working OK, our bodies will be as they ought to be – agile, fit and slim – naturally choosing the right foods, eating just enough, enjoying exercise, feeling good.
Look around though, and a lot of us are having trouble with that OFF switch. Nearly two thirds of us are overweight or obese – and the rest of us are heading that way. Somehow our leptin levels are either too low, or it’s just not doing its stuff.
That triggers the brain’s self-preservation reflex, sending out signals to boost our energy sources. We feel them as hunger pangs and cravings – we’re starving, we’re starving – deliberately urging us to scavenge for and gobble up high-fat, high-sugar foods – the quickest and easiest energy charge to get us going again.
Couch potato time
At the same time the body gives us shut down messages – revert to stand-by, conserve energy, minimise all exercise – squashing any urge to go to the gym, or get up off the sofa and run. So it’s not just laziness, lying there parked off – your body is physically telling you not to.
Meanwhile, we’re sitting there porking out with two 2-litre bottles of Coke plus cod and double chips, watching the latest sugar porn on the Great British Bake Off.
Not good if you want to shift the pounds off. Like going bungee-jumping when your whole being is screaming NO-O-O-O-O! Diet all you like, unless you’re iron-willed like SAS veterans, your weight-loss efforts don’t really stand a chance. Even a gastric band won’t fix the cravings – as soon as it’s off, we need a KFC bucket.
Oops, leptin resistance
So what’s wrong with the leptin switch? Why are we all gorging ourselves crazy, with our hunger reflexes jammed full-on?
Actually, do a leptin level check, and most of us will turn out normal. The leptin’s there to do its job, our systems just aren’t responding. Somehow, they’ve become leptin resistant.
Step forward histone deacetylase 5, otherwise known as HDAC5. One day it might become as familiar to us as DNA.
According to researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, Technische Universität München and the German Centre for Diabetes Research, HDAC5 is an enzyme that corrects the brain so it reads leptin levels correctly.
Whoo-hoo! Switch off the hunger pangs, back to being thin again.
Well, maybe not quite yet. Researchers have isolated the enzyme – and they’ve tried it out on mice. Works a treat, they lose fat mass and body weight. They’re just several years shy of proving it to work on humans.
So if HDAC5 is showing the way to the answer, what’s the cause? Maybe if we plug that hole, we can make the problem will go away anyway.
The real gut gangster
Because the one cause of putting our gut bacteria on the fritz that all of us share is collective damage from antibiotics. And whichever way you cut it, every one of us is a mainlining antibiotics junkie.
Yeah, we all take antibiotics for sickness of one kind or another – at least one course a year for most of us – more if we’re hypochondriacs. But few of us ever realise we’re actually gulping down antibiotics all the time – for 50 years they’ve been agriculture’s No 1 growth booster for animals and plants. The animals eat them, they get fat, we eat the animals, we get fat too. Ditto for plants.
Which means every mouthful we take includes yet another dose of some miracle-drug deliberately used to fatten produce up. We’re fat because we’re constantly chowing down fatteners.
Another one bites the dust
Actually we’re fat because antibiotics work by killing bacteria. And every hit that winds up in our gut takes out another few thousand. Not good, even though we each have over 100 trillion down there in our digestive system – we need them for all kinds of things, including regulate our immune system.
But dump antibiotics in there and it’s like a hydrogen bomb. And the fall out? Lots of dead bacteria, a whole host of upsets our bodies have to cope with. Imagine someone going mad in the cockpit of a Boeing, flipping all the switches.
Yup, that’s how the leptin gets glitched, just like it does for Farmer Brown’s finest beef cows and chickens. Our appetites are on turbo and we dream of double sugar in the Great British Bake Off.
There’s lots of other things that glitch too – our daily dose of MORE antibiotics sees to that. Which means that we’re less healthy than we were – less able to resist infection, our immune systems under-powered and under strain. Every meal, another top-up.
Antibiotics – angels from hell
Which means, if we get sick, we ought to try to avoid antibiotics to get better – restrict them to intravenous, or a once-off emergency only – beyond that no way, they’ve already done enough damage.
Take that tactic and we must avoid getting sick in the first place. And the only way to do that is up our hygiene levels – wash our hands before and after everything, be meticulous about keeping things clean, wherever possible sterilising the area around us.
At least that’s easy. Hit the button on a Hypersteriliser and a fine mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide oxidises all viruses and bacteria in any room space – dead and gone, sterilised to nothing in around forty minutes. Totally safe.
Other than that, switch to organic food (no antibiotics) – and start exercising, whatever the body says.
We might be fat, but we don’t have to stay that way.
Picture Copyright: studiograndouest / 123RF Stock Photo
Originally posted 2016-03-03 15:04:07.