First Do No Harm

Name That Hormone

I am the most powerful hormone in the human body. I am secreted by fat cells (white adipose tissues). If you want to understand the functioning of the human body, you have to understand me and my numerous roles.

I am necessary for survival.

I respond to specific patterns and I am fundamental in regulating your body rhythms. I am the key to understanding the pathway to type two diabetes.

I am responsible for keeping fat from being deposited on vital organs, such as spleen, liver, pancreas, and heart.

For every system in your body to function properly, I must function properly; my role is to oversee the endocrine system, the immune system, the digestive system, and your metabolism from its entirety down to the metabolism of each individual cell. I control food intake, fat storage, and I either allow or restrict energy.

If I am in abundance too long (over-abundance), the human body becomes resistant to me, inflammation sets in, and I reinforce an environment that can lead to heart disease, cancer, and a host of degenerative illnesses.

If your bran is insensitive/resistant to me, your body is insensitive/resistant to insulin. Thus, I am all about balance and homeostasis.

As we age, resistance to me becomes an even bigger issue and adrenaline resistance can also become an issue, which can lead to weight gain.

I am the most important hormone helping the brain determine energy usage in the body.

I am all about survival.

However, in an alcoholic, because of an overabundance of me and a subsequent resistance to me, cravings for alcohol are felt by the individual as if they were cravings for food and sustenance.

In an individual without resistance to me, the partaking of alcohol lowers my release causing the individual to overeat. If this continues on a steady basis, the individual will gain weight and become resistant to me.

When my levels are elevated, I set in motion a cascading effect of immune cell activity, first stimulating the release and actions of TNF (tumor necrosis factor). In its normal capacity, TNF will take care of incipient tumors; in over abundance, TNF is highly inflammatory. This can lead to a host of degenerative illnesses, auto-immune responses, and aging, all of which stresses out the body. When stressed, NF kappaB (a regulatory part of the cells immune system) inside the cells is activated causing further inflammation in the body.

However, when I am regulated and recognized, the proper amount of me in the brain controls how tissues grow in the body (even how a fetus grows in the mother) and I protect and regulate dopamine levels in the brain and prevent Parkinsonís disease. In fact, I protect the brain from a host of damage that could be cause by drugs and other toxins.

It is because of me that white adipose tissues (fat) is no longer just fat but rather, as scientists now recognize it, is part of your endocrine system.

When the brain recognizes me, in higher levels, I tell the body it is full; whereas in lower levels, I tell the body it is hungry. All of this happens through the subconscious.

Now get this.

I was discovered in 1994.

Who am I?

I am leptin.

Leptin has been called the "weight loss" hormone, but as you can see, it is so much more. However, let me tell you about a special mouse.

It is called an ob/ob mouse. This little critter had an appetite like no other mouse. It just could not stop eating. If mixed in with normal mice, it quickly grows to three times the size of the other mice.

It was discovered that the ob/ob mouse has a mutated gene. Because that mutation, it does not synthesize leptin. When given leptin, the ob/ob mice started eating normal amounts of food. This is why leptin has been labeled the weight loss hormone; when it's low, we are stimulated to eat; when it is high, we stop eating.

Scientists quickly hypothesized that our obesity epidemic must be caused by a lack of leptin. Wrong.

What scientists quickly discovered was that our obese population was FULL of leptin. The problem was their brains just didn't know it. They had become resistant/insensitive to leptin.

And then came the "aha moment:" if your brain is insensitive to leptin, your body is insensitive to insulin.

Leptin resistance causes fat and fat causes leptin resistance. Which came first? The chicken or the egg?

Here is an article that took well over a year to research and write. I hope you'll enjoy it, but even more, I hope you'll learn from it: The Disease of Our Time.

Further Reading

Mastering Leptin: Your Guide to Permanent Weight Loss and Optimum Health (Third Edition)

A leptin dose-response study in obese (ob/ob) and lean (+/?) mice.

 


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