Ghrelin – the Hunger Hormone

Ghrelin is a hormone that is produced and released mainly by the stomach with small amounts also released by the small intestine, pancreas and brain.

Ghrelin has numerous functions. It is termed the ‘hunger hormone’ because it stimulates appetite, increases food intake and promotes fat storage. When administered to humans, ghrelin increases food intake by up to 30%; it circulates in the bloodstream and acts at the hypothalamus, an area of the brain crucial in the control of appetite. Ghrelin has also been shown to act on regions of the brain involved in reward processing such as the amygdala.

Ghrelin also stimulates the release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland, which, unlike ghrelin itself, breaks down fat tissue and causes the build-up of muscle.

Ghrelin also has protective effects on the cardiovascular system and plays a role in the control of insulin release.

How is ghrelin controlled?

Ghrelin levels are primarily regulated by food intake. Levels of ghrelin in the blood rise just before eating and when fasting, with the timing of these rises being affected by our normal meal routine. Hence, ghrelin is thought to play a role in mealtime ‘hunger pangs’ and the need to begin meals. Levels of ghrelin increase when fasting (in line with increased hunger) and are lower in individuals with a higher body weight compared with lean individuals, which suggests ghrelin could be involved in the long-term regulation of body weight.

Eating reduces concentrations of ghrelin. Different nutrients slow down ghrelin release to varying degrees; carbohydrates and proteins restrict the production and release of ghrelin to a greater extent than fats.

Somatostatin also restricts ghrelin release, as well as many other hormones released from the digestive tract.

What happens if I have too much ghrelin?

Ghrelin levels increase after dieting, which may explain why diet-induced weight loss can be difficult to maintain. One would expect higher levels in people with obesity. However, ghrelin levels are usually lower in people with higher body weight compared with lean people, which suggests ghrelin is not a cause of obesity; although there is a suggestion that obese people are actually more sensitive to the hormone. However, more research is needed to confirm this.

Prader-Willi syndrome is a genetic disease in which patients have severe obesity, extreme hunger and learning difficulties. Unlike more common forms of obesity, circulating ghrelin levels are high in Prader-Willi syndrome patients and start before the development of obesity. This suggests that ghrelin may contribute to their increased appetite and body weight.

Ghrelin levels are also high in cachexia and the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa. This may be the body’s way of making up for weight loss by stimulating food intake and fat storage.

What happens if I have too little ghrelin?

Gastric bypass surgery, which involves reducing the size of the stomach, is considered to be the most effective treatment for severe, life-threatening obesity. Patients who lose weight after bypass surgery have been found to have lower ghrelin levels than those who lose weight by other means such as diet and exercise, which may partly explain the long-lasting success of this treatment.

Source: Society for Endocrinology

Mediterranean Appetizer with Eggs


16 spears of asparagus
1 tbsp olive oil
4 hard-cooked eggs, sliced diagonally
1 large red pepper, roasted (see procedures below) or 1/2 cup roasted red pepper from jar, sliced into strips
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Trim ends off asparagus. Place asparagus spears on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Cook for 7-10 minutes until tender crisp.
  3. Divide asparagus, peppers and eggs among four plates.
  4. Just before serving, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, basil, salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

Roasted Red Peppers in the Oven

  1. Place clean whole fresh peppers on a baking dish.
  2. Broil under medium heat, turning frequently as necessary, until the entire pepper skin has turned black and blistery.
  3. Remove from oven and place peppers into an airtight container such as a bowl with a lid, or a plastic or paper bag.
  4. Let the peppers rest in the container for 10 to 15 minutes to build up the steam that is needed to aid in the removal of the pepper skin.
  5. Remove from container and peel off the skin. Cut the pepper in half, core and remove seeds.

Source: Manitoba Egg Farmers

In Pictures: Food Plating of Females Chefs of Restaurants

How Technology Will Revolutionise Food in the Next 5 Years

Cristina Fernández Esteban and Ruqayyah Moynihan wrote . . . . . . . . .

Since the turn of the last century, Earth has experienced a substantial demographic explosion — and the number of people on the planet is only increasing.

This rise in the number of the world’s inhabitants is raising a lot of concerns about economics, resources like food and how we simply living side by side.

In five years time, the Earth’s population is expected to reach eight billion inhabitants and according to the estimates from the United Nations, the world population is set to increase by more than one billion people in just 15 years.

Feeding this number of mouths — and not destroying the planet in the process — will require a number of changes in food policy to make food safer, to reduce waste, and also to ensure proper waste management. With these new demands come the need to start developing new tech and innovative ways of thinking.

IBM researchers from around the world have looked at different ways of addressing the challenges the food industry is set to face, producing the “5 in 5” initiative. It outlines five predicted challenges the food supply chain is set to face in the next five years and five possible technological solutions IBM is working on.

1. ‘Digital twin’ virtual farms to improve crop yields

Digital twins are virtual models of farms and they should, in theory, help us to feed a growing world population while using fewer resources.

According to IBM, digital twins will enable us to accurately forecast crop yields, in turn giving banks and financial institutions the data they need to give farmers credit to expand.

In essence, they’ll allow us to simulate farming processes in a virtual environment so we can analyze how they would work before taking them to a real physical environment.

In this way, virtual farm models can be set up to allow farmers to share data, information, or results — as well as to achieve the maximum yield from their crops.

2. Blockchain as a tool to reduce food waste

IBM’s predictions suggest that, in five years time, everyone in the supply chain from farmers to grocery suppliers will be able to use blockchain technology to change the way we grow, process, and distribute food.

Blockchain, within the next half a decade, should allow us to figure out in a clear and fully comprehensive way when to plant, order, or distribute a product, with the aim of significantly reducing food waste.

3. Food safety analysis systems to identify microbes

Nearly 0ne in 10 people get sick each year from food poisoning food, while 420,000 people die from contaminated foodstuffs, according to WHO estimates.

Having a better understanding of microbes and how they work will greatly assist food safety inspectors in upping food safety across farms, factories, and grocery stores.

IBM researchers are currently working on new food safety analysis systems that will “map microbiomes,” giving greater accuracy when trying to identify dangerous microorganisms present in food.

4. Pathogen-detecting AI on mobile devices

In five years, new technology will enable consumers around the world to easily detect anything that may be contaminating their food products.

AI sensors installed in mobile phones and other portable devices will allow the detection of foodborne pathogens wherever they may appear.

With this sort of tech, we’ll easily be able, for example, to detect the presence of E. coli or Salmonella in food and to prevent outbreaks. According to IBM: “Mobile bacteria sensors could dramatically increase the speed of a pathogen test from days to second.”

5. New recycling methods to give a new lease of life to plastics

From milk cartons to cookie packaging and water bottles, we should eventually be able to recycle pretty much any kind of plastic in the next five years, according to IBM.

Polyester manufacturers can take comfort from the knowledge that, rather than product packaging ending up on a landfill, we’ll one day be able to turn any trash we produce into something useful.

One process that IBM is now getting involved with, according to Fast Company, is the VolCat solution.

The chemical process allows materials like polyester plastics that have, until now, been difficult to degrade not only to be broken down; VolCat also allows them to be made and converted into new substances that can be used directly in plastic manufacturing machines to make new products.

In the next decade or so, countries across the globe will be adopting innovative recycling alternatives like VolCat.

These solutions mean we can encourage a much more circular approach to recycling and can massively reduce the waste produced as a result of plastic.

Source: Business Insider

Women Are Happier Without Children or a Spouse, Says Happiness Expert

Sian Cain wrote . . . . . . . . .

We may have suspected it already, but now the science backs it up: unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population. And they are more likely to live longer than their married and child-rearing peers, according to a leading expert in happiness.

Speaking at the Hay festival on Saturday, Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, said the latest evidence showed that the traditional markers used to measure success did not correlate with happiness – particularly marriage and raising children.

“We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people over time, but I am going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say: if you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.”

Men benefited from marriage because they “calmed down”, he said. “You take less risks, you earn more money at work, and you live a little longer. She, on the other hand, has to put up with that, and dies sooner than if she never married. The healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children,” he said.

Dolan’s latest book, Happy Ever After, cites evidence from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), which compared levels of pleasure and misery in unmarried, married, divorced, separated and widowed individuals.

Other studies have measured some financial and health benefits in being married for both men and women on average, which Dolan said could be attributed to higher incomes and emotional support, allowing married people to take risks and seek medical help.

However, Dolan said men showed more health benefits from tying the knot, as they took fewer risks. Women’s health was mostly unaffected by marriage, with middle-aged married women even being at higher risk of physical and mental conditions than their single counterparts.

Despite the benefits of a single, childless lifestyle for women, Dolan said that the existing narrative that marriage and children were signs of success meant that the stigma could lead some single women to feel unhappy.

“You see a single woman of 40, who has never had children – ‘Bless, that’s a shame, isn’t it? Maybe one day you’ll meet the right guy and that’ll change.’ No, maybe she’ll meet the wrong guy and that’ll change. Maybe she’ll meet a guy who makes her less happy and healthy, and die sooner.”

Source: The Guardian

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