What I Learned About Hunger in This Class Semester
There are many times one would think that they are hungry. Mood swings, stomach growling, shakiness, dry mouth, etc. But these can be symptoms of other workings of the body. An example is someone who has their stomach removed due to cancer. Would they still experience hunger if their stomach is removed? For both humans and rats, the answer is yes. For hunger, the only accurate way to know one is hungry is the testing one’s glucose level. When it is low, we feel hunger. I have diabetes and I am taking a medication that lowers my glucose level. I can say that I experience hunger more often because of this dip in my glucose level.
Hormone levels affect hunger. The hormone cholecystokinin, when high, reduces appetite. The hormone glucocorticoids, when high, enhance appetite. The hormone leptin has the opposite effect, it reduces appetite. In response to these, it affects how much or little we eat.
The key area of the brain that affects hunger is the hypothalamus. This is comprised of three parts; the lateral hypothalamus, vento-medial, and para ventricular nucleus. When glucocorticoids stimulate the lateral hypothalamus, it enhances appetite. If it is destroyed, it reduces appetite. This part of brain, when one is hungry, produces orexin. When rats are given this substance, they become ravenously hungry. The ventro-medial, when stimulated by hormone levels, reduces appetite. When damaged, it enhances appetite and the stomach and intestines will process food more rapidly causing extreme fatness. This can be observed in people with tumors near the base of their brain where the vetro-medial is located. Researchers find that these people eat in excess and become overweight. People who are trying to lose weight often fight their hunger. I think they would find some relief knowing that this is a natural body process that is instigated from hormone levels and the brain. Being unable to control...
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