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Hunger is the way our bodies warn us that it is time to look for food, eat and continue with life.
It is a very powerful instinct that is generated when the brain detects changes in the levels of hormones and nutrients in the blood.
They are a variety of signals that come from different parts of the digestive system and the bloodstream in addition to a series of chemical and metabolic factors.
It can be a sound of guts, pain, low energy, confusion, bad temper, all are symptoms that your body needs to feed and is sending you signals from everywhere.
These are the systems and organs involved in creating that very important sense of hunger:
The vagus is one of the main nerves that unites the brain with all the organs of the body.
In the case of hunger, it acts as a super highway that connects the digestive system with the brain .
This is how the brain keeps track of the different nutrients you have in the intestine and how full or empty your stomach is.
The satiety signal is activated when the food passes from the stomach to the ileum (the first section of the small intestine), which generates the secretion of peptide YY and the message of “I am full”.
That step takes about 20 minutes, so one may already have eaten more than enough before feeling satiated. That is why it is recommended to eat slowly, to give the stomach a chance to warn the brain.
When your stomach is empty for more than two hours, it begins to contract to push the remaining food into the small intestine.
The movement of food, mixed with gastric juices and air produces a noise called borborigmo or, what we vulgarly call “my trunks sound” .
Although these crunches occur whether or not food is present, they are usually more common when several hours have passed since you have eaten food, so they are more associated with hunger.
The sounds may be a source of social embarrassment, but they are a normal function of digestion and if the gut never sounds to you it could be an indication of obstruction.
The gastrointestinal tract
The cells in the stomach and intestine produce ghrelin, known as the hunger hormone.
It acts in the opposite direction of peptide YY, sending signals to the hypothalamus to stimulate the appetite.
High levels of ghrelin in the gastrointestinal tract are associated with obesity .
There are studies that indicate that the consumption of certain foods, particularly those classified as “emotional food” can raise the levels of ghrelin in healthy humans, generating a cycle of increased consumption and hunger that can end in obesity.
When your usual meal time approaches, your pancreas (a glandular organ behind your stomach) begins to secrete insulin.
Insulin has two functions: to help convert food into fuel for the body’s cells and regulate blood sugar levels.
The secretion of insulin before we feed creates a drop in glucose and that is why, when we are hungry we can experience body weakness and confusion.
The key nutrients in your blood – including glucose, amino acids and fatty acids – are at their lowest levels when you’re hungry .
Glucose comes from the breakdown of starches and gives you energy.
On the other hand, amino acids are metabolized from the proteins that you consume and are crucial in the maintenance and growth of muscle tissue.
Finally, fatty acids are also essential, such as omega 3 found in fish, and contribute to the autoimmune system by combating allergies and chronic diseases.
But do not go filling up with fries when you feel hungry. A balanced diet of starches, proteins and fats is optimal for good health.
It is prudent to pay attention when our body indicates that we are hungry.
Many people are usually short tempered when they have not eaten and become difficult to deal with.
But hunger goes further in its effects on the brain.
Being hungry can make you impulsive and reduce your ability to make long-term decisions .
Intellectual activity also suffers. That is why it is usually recommended to have a good balanced breakfast before entering an exam.