Do you feel like you are always hungry? Here’s why it is happening and why it is not your fault.
Do you often find yourself constantly snacking throughout the day, feeling like you can never fully sate your hunger? If so, you are not alone. Even after eating what seems to be an adequate amount of food, many people are always hungry. But why does it happen?
Why are you always hungry?
Do you hold your culture and family traditions responsible for your insatiable hunger? Well, something else is also contributing to it—a huge network of signals pulsing throughout your brain, gut and body that significantly interferes with your ability to feel hunger. Here are some main mechanisms that govern your eating behaviors:
The hypothalamus, which is located at the base of the brain, has a significant impact on your eating habits. The arcuate nucleus, a small region of the hypothalamus, is a bundle of fascinating neurons that regulate hunger and satiety: agouti-related protein (AgRP) neurons and proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons. These two types of cells balance each other out by releasing chemicals into the blood that either increase or decrease your hunger. When AgRP neurons are stimulated, you experience hunger, whereas POMC encourages satiety. As you become full, POMC neurons reduce your appetite by causing the pituitary gland to release alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH).
The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the human body and extends from the brain to the gut. It plays a significant role in the neurological mechanism for the brain's hunger and satiety signals. The gut-brain axis transmits signals of hunger and satiety back and forth. But how can it impact your appetite? Stretch receptors in the stomach communicate with the brain via the vagus nerve to signal satiety when the stomach is full. They are not active when your stomach is empty. Furthermore, the vagus nerve has a role in the desire for junk food and sugar.
That’s not all! There are several other hormones, like leptin and ghrelin, that are closely related to your hunger. These hormones collaborate to either increase or decrease your satiety and appetite to keep your weight and energy levels stable. Leptin, a hormone produced in fat cells, alerts the brain that it has enough energy and does not require any food, whereas ghrelin rises before meals and falls after eating.
Although several hormones control your hunger, there are some things you can do to manage it. If you are always hungry, here’s what to do:
Spend time in the sun
If you are always hungry, regular exposure to sunlight can help. This is because alpha-MSH is activated by ultraviolet radiation from the sun absorbed by your eyes. So I recommend spending around half an hour exposing your eyes to the morning sunlight.
Balance dopamine levels
You can control cravings and curb your appetite by naturally balancing dopamine in your body. But how to do that? If you are always hungry, adding foods high in tyrosine, such as bananas, almonds, beets, apples, cherries, eggs, meat and fish, can help. Additionally, limit your intake of sugar and avoid stress.
Boost your serotonin levels
Serotonin plays a significant role in regulating your appetite. To boost your serotonin levels, eat foods high in tryptophan, including eggs, turkey, dairy foods, lean meats, salmon, pineapples, tofu, nuts and seeds. It is a good idea to combine these foods with quality carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, winter squashes and quinoa.
Get adequate sleep
Lack of sleep has been linked to increased hunger and craving for foods high in calories and carbohydrates. This is thought to be caused in part by the fact that lack of sleep can change how much hormones like ghrelin and leptin, which control appetite, are present in the body. Try to prioritize getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night and develop a consistent sleep schedule to combat this.