Where does our hunger come from? At what point is our body satisfied ? Being hungry or satisfied is a normal feeling we are confronted with every day. But these feelings are actually a highly complex process. In this blog post we want to explain how our body regulates hunger and satisfaction and which mechanisms play an essential role.
Hunger vs. Appetite
It’s been awhile since we have had breakfast and our lunch is another hour away. We’re getting hungry! Trough hunger our body tells us that he needs energy which we can give him by ingestion. Behind an empty feeling in the stomach lies an extensive process in our body which starts in our brain and is regulated by our hormones. Hunger and appetite are far from being similar. They can occur at the same time but appetite is the desire for a particular food or dish. Appetite is triggered when seeing, smelling or thinking of something specific that links to this specific dish.
Hunger: I am full!
After taking in some food, we are satisfied. This sounds easy but it is also a complex process which has not been scientifically explained yet. The most obvious reason for the feeling of satisfaction is the stretch in the stomach. Another important part is our hypothalamus, a region in our brain. This region is the centre of your hunger and satisfaction which delivers hormones that either signalize hunger or satisfaction. This function is incredibly relevant for our survival because it prevents us from either eating too much or not enough. Our blood glucose level, our stomach and our hormones are processes that have been widely researched.
Our blood glucose level
Our body uses blood glucose as a sign of hunger and satisfaction regulation. If the blood glucose level is low your body is hungry. If the level is high our body delivers the hormone insulin. The level of insulin in our blood influences our satisfaction centre.
The moment we eat, our stomach is filled and stretched. That stretch makes us feel satisfied and full. At the same time we activate the hormone “Glucagon Like Peptide 1”, which activates our satisfaction centre in our brain through our blood.
Every regulation for hunger and satisfaction is influenced by our hormones. One of those hormones is leptin, which is delivered from our fat tissues. High leptin levels activate the satisfaction centre, that is also a reason why we do not feel hungry when we are asleep because the hormone ghrelin is not produced. Ghrelin is a hormone that is only delivered when we are awake and is the opponent of letin. When the letin level is low, ghrelin is delivered and activates our hunger centre.
The Hunger for Routines
Theoreticians say that actual hunger is not the main reason why we eat. Our food intake is influenced by the environment and Psychological factors like our social surroundings, routines and habits and the unlimited access to food. This is precisely why we eat when we actually do not need it. If we go to the bakery everyday at the same time and buy the same thing, our body will get used to it and will crave it even though we are not hungry at all. Hence, our body is getting used to a situation or routine but will simulate it as being hungry.