Leptin resistance is a fairly new subject. Scientists only discovered this unique hormone in 1994. The irony is that the excitement level was very high at that time. There was reason to hope that this new breakthrough could lead to an end to the ever escalating numbers of people suffering from obesity worldwide.
But as more was learned about leptin, it became evident that there would be no miracle pill to erase decades of choices. There was however a better understanding of the development of diseases within the cardiovascular system.
Leptin resistance is getting a much longer look as a big part of the surging numbers for type 2 diabetes. As we noted in the page about this epidemic in the world, as blood sugar becomes elevated, insulin is produced to direct that blood sugar into fat cells for storage and for energy. This leads to an increase in this hormone called leptin.
The extra sugar stored in those fat cells leads to even more leptin production. It appears that this increase could be a cause of insulin resistance. Research is indicating that people who are insulin resistant are probably leptin resistant as well.
This health challenge occurs when your brain cannot receive the signals that you have plenty of the protein built up. As people continue to gain weight, the brain never gets the "full signal", so hunger continues. In a page for "Web MD", Dr. Robert Lustig called obesity "brain starvation." He says, "In leptin resistance, your leptin is high, which means you're fat, but your brain can't see it. In other words, your brain is starved, while your body is obese."
I'll break this down to the "reader's digest" format to answer this question. Leptin is made in the fat cells of our bodies. This protein weaves it's way through the blood stream, eventually making it up to our brains. The primary purpose is to tell our brain when we have enough energy stored in fat cells to do normal things.
Every person has their own leptin minimum setting. When your energy level gets below that minimum setting, your brain takes over and begins the process of naturally increasing leptin production. It does this by stimulating the "vagus nerve" which runs from your brain down to your abdomen. The most important job of this vagus nerve is to turn on the alarm that tells you to eat when necessary. This creates more leptin to store in those fat cells to produce more energy.
Those people who have developed leptin resistance cannot signal the brain, so hunger is constant. Excessive weight gain occurs because your body cannot properly burn off fat and far too often, insulin resistance follows. It also appears that leptin may be a big part of the process of insulin signalling. Leptin is a factor in the development of insulin resistance.
The next step is too often a diagnosis of being pre-diabetic and usually type 2 diabetes follows. The causes are also the same. Too much fructose in diets along with many carbohydrate-type foods are a large part of the leptin resistance problem and by extension the diabetes challenge in our world.
The logic of high carbohydrate diets seems to me to be misguided. So many of the foods eaten by people following that regimen are high in fructose and starch-loaded carbs which convert quickly to sugar. Empty carbs and too much sugar are bringing down the overall health of many people in our country and around the world. Here is some more great information.
We also need to take a good look at grain consumption. Did you know that two pieces of toasted white bread will deliver sugar to your bloodstream in a way very similar to a can of regular soda?
Dr. David Perlmutter provides an interesting comparison in his book "Grain Brain." It is composed of the same illustration he uses when teaching in a medical setting. He presents a slide show featuring these four very common foods.
* One slice of bread
* One Snickers bar
* One tablespoon of pure white sugar
* One banana
His question to the audience is "Which food produces the highest surge in blood sugar?" Dr. Perlmutter reports that 90% of the time, the respondents give the wrong answer. I would have joined that group too.
Because the correct answer is that slice of bread. He states, "We've known for more than thirty years that wheat increases blood sugar more than table sugar, but we still somehow think that's not possible. It seems counter intuitive. But it's a fact that few foods produce as much of a surge in blood glucose as those made with wheat."
Think about how much grain we eat everyday. And then please consider the fact that the grain produced today in most cases is nothing like the grain grown five decades ago. The tinkering of pesticide producers who have worked diligently to corner the seed market has changed the makeup of the finished product.
We need to look at the rising numbers and follow the life cycle compared to the outside factors in food production. And then course correct.
As we've written in other pages under the cardiovascular system button found in the left margin, cut out processed foods. They are usually very high in fructose corn syrup and have limited nutritional value. Whole, natural foods are essential in getting this leptin resistance under control. Not doing so is like lighting the fuse to the powder keg.
This is another major health hazard that can be reduced with better knowledge, better diet, better rest and better exercise. We can clean up this mess by making good food choices. Not faster choices for sure. Just better.