Have you ever noticed how much of our lives revolve around food? We have multiple days dedicated to just eating. It’s not just the fuel that keeps us going. Food has found its way into all aspects of our lives. One of the main reasons this has happened is the feeling that food helps to create within us. Think about just one recipe or dish that your family or a family member is known for. What memories do you have where that dish pops up?
Feels Like Home
For me, my grandmother made this jello cheesecake for every holiday and special occasion. Personally, it was never really my thing. But I loved the feelings that the dish invoked. After my grandmother passed the dish still held those feelings and now even more. It turns out that the recipe has been passed down by my father’s grandmother and it paled in comparison. From family recipes to crystal clear memories food has always been the thread that is interwoven throughout our lives. Clearly food is an important part of our daily lives. I mean without it we would die. But does it always have our best interests at heart?
Our Bodies Want To Help
Our bodies are designed to work with us. They constantly let us know if they need or want something. Unfortunately, we may not always interpret these requests properly. To make matters worse, some individuals who have managed to crack the code, use it to trick our brains into thinking they are getting the nutrition they need. The end result is that the majority of us are suffering from at least one misinterpretation and the consequences that come with it. Taking a look at the most common health issue that seems to have engulfed the world (obesity) we can see a number of hormones that have propelled us even farther off track.
Highway to The Danger Zone
One of the hormones that has caused us to see an increase in obesity rates is Cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is released during stressful situations. When we experience high levels of stress our Cortisol levels increase which put our bodies in a higher state of alertness. This can be advantageous for a number of reasons. For example, if we are in a situation where there are several preditors it can be the difference between life and death. Another benefit to having a heightened awareness is that it can help us to catch more problems and help us avoid them. It is also a great way to keep us focused on the task at hand until the threat or stressor has been removed.
The Method to The Madness
Another hormone that seems to have its foot stuck on the gas pedal pushing us even further into obesity is Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate our sleep cycles. Individuals who are not getting enough sleep suffer from a further imbalance in their hormones. People who experience an access of stress or Cortisol tend to get less sleep. When we don’t give our bodies the time they need to detox and rebuild it directly affects our hormonal levels. Low sleep produces lower levels of Leptin and higher levels of Ghrelin. Leptin is a hormone that tells our brains that we are satisfied. It is our bodies way of naturally regulating our energy levels. When our energy stores become depleted our Leptin level drop. This activates an increase in Ghrelin production.
The Dynamic Duo
Ghrelin is a hormone that increases our food intake. Due to the fact that this hormone stimulates stomach acid production and increases gastric motility it is more commonly known as the hunger hormone. Ghrelin is produced within the digestive tract mainly within the stomach. The highest levels exist in the bloodstream before meals and return to lower levels after a meal is consumed. One of the lesser known things about Ghrelin is the fact that it also stimulates growth hormone, participates in the regulation of reward cognition, learning, memory, the circadian rhythm, taste sensation, reward behavior, and glucose metabolism. Which means this is one of the hormones that makes us attach memories and feelings to the foods we eat.
What is Your Body Telling You?
It is plain to see how having these hormones out of balance can produce negative effects. While there are signs and symptoms that can indicate an imbalance in any of these hormones. This article will focus on the signs and symptoms experienced due to an imbalance of Ghrelin. For more information on Cortisol, Melatonin, and Leptin be sure to read through my prior articles. To help you determine how at risk you are for an imbalance I have included quick quizzes to try out you can also request a test from your doctor. The following are some of the more common symptoms associated with Ghrelin imbalance:
- Difficulty Losing Weight
- Constantly Hungry
- Crave Sugar or High Calorie Foods
- Frequent Mood Swings
- Excess Stress
- Digestive Issues
A Push & Pull Relationship
For those of you who have read through the articles on Leptin imbalance and have noticed some glaring similarities. There is a reason. Leptin and Ghrelin work together. This means when Leptin levels drop Ghrelin levels rise to help restore Leptin levels. When an individual develops Leptin resistance the brain is unaware that there is an abundance of Leptin. Which results in the over activation of Ghrelin production. Because the body does not need more calories it automatically converts these foods into fat to be stored in case of an emergency energy crisis.
Foods In Your Corner
Unlike Leptin Ghrelin is produced in the stomach and therefore we are able to help regulate its production with the food we consume. As a bonus the regulation of either Leptin or Ghrelin helps to regulate the other. That is right, it is a two birds with one stone situation. Some of the best foods to help regulate Ghrelin are:
- Green Tea
- Flax & Chia Seeds
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Sweet Potato
- Brussel Sprouts
The Power Behind Anti-Inflammatories!
If you haven’t noticed by now the bulk of these foods have several things in common. They are all high in fiber, protein, and have anti-inflammatory properties. An argument can be made that one of the best things you can do for your overall health is to switch over to an anti-inflammatory diet. Research has shown that the bulk of health issues primarily occur due to an excess of inflammation or produce an excess of inflammation. It stands to reason then that doing anything we can to reduce this excess would be advantageous for all of us. Luckily, the mass majority of the recipes included in these posts are anti-inflammatory in nature. In the future I will add additional articles highlighting the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet and the best ways to transition into one.
Put Your Skills to The Test
One of my favorite things to do is to provide my audience with quick, easy, and healthy ways to apply their knowledge. By now, you may have noticed one or more of the signs and symptoms apply to you personally. Don’t worry, you are capable of taking back control of your health! Here is a quick and easy recipe that will help you take your first step on getting control back.
Cauliflower & Roasted Garlic Soup
- 1 Head Cauliflower
- 1 Garlic Bulb
- 1 Small Potato
- ½ Cup Roasted Garlic Hummus
- ½ Cup Raw Cashews
- 2 Cups Vegetable Broth
- ½ Cup Cooked Quinoa
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 Cups Water
- 2 tsp Better than Bullion Roasted Garlic
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 tsp Turmeric Ground
- Soak cashews in hot water for two hours. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Chop cauliflower and (peeled) potatoes. Place on baking sheet with garlic cloves and drizzle with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until tender (monitor to prevent burning). Remove from oven and let cool for 4-5 minutes. Drain and rinse cashews. Add nuts to blender with hummus, quinoa, veggies, garlic, and remaining seasonings. Blend until desired texture is reached. Transfer into pot and heat. Serve hot (I like to top with roasted garlic or hummus) and enjoy!
Need a Helping Hand?
A happy and healthy life is closer than you may think. Our health is something that we all have to deal with daily, and when we don’t feel our best, it shows. If you are tired of just making it through your day then you NEED to start investing in your health today! You are not alone on this journey. If you ever need any help I am always here to do just that. Even if it is something as small as just acting as a sounding board. Do you have any questions or concerns I can help you with? Feel free to contact me directly at DrDeeandMe@gmail.com or you can even book a one-on-one call with me. Be sure to subscribe to gain access to tons of free goodies and check back daily for more great recipes and information!
Jana Short says
Dr. Dee, You don’t disappoint, another great blog I loved your tips on controlling your hunger and your recipe looks delicious, I can’t wait to make it!
Dr. Dee says
This soup recipe turned out great! I had a ton of positive feedback and I love how great it is for your overall health. Now more than ever before we need to focus on making our health a priority. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you stay safe and healthy at home.