Ghrelin is the final satiety hormone, and it is kind of the “opposite” of the other two: it regulates our hunger sensations. Have you ever heard the statement “it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to even know that it’s full” before? That would be the layperson’s understanding of ghrelin–and, like almost all examples of colloquialisms, this generalization isn’t quite right. Unlike leptin and insulin, ghrelin is released by the gastrointestinal tract to tell our body that it’s hungry. The mechanism of release is based on the physical status of the stomach. When it’s empty, cells lining the stomach release ghrelin, which talks to the brain in the same way that the other satiety hormones do (in fact, ghrelin even uses the same receptors as leptin). Once the stomach is full of food, it stops releasing ghrelin, and we realize that we’re satiated. Optimizing ghrelin function (and even using it therapeutically, like an intravenous drug) is linked to improving both metabolism and inflammation! How cool is that? So, even though you may not hear about this hormone as much in the media, its importance is supercritical too.
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