Excess hunger and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism: Could it be leptin resistance?

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Excess hunger and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism: Could it be leptin resistance?

Carrying excess fat can actually make you hungrier thanks to a phenomenon called leptin resistance.
For people with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism this is double bad news as inappropriately managed hypothyroidism promotes weight gain and makes it difficult to lose weight.

What is leptin?

Leptin is a “satiety” hormone secreted by fat cells that tells the brain when you have had enough to eat. Eating causes the secretion of leptin, which signals that the stomach is full and it’s time to stop eating. Between meals or during long periods without food, leptin levels drop, triggering hunger and motivating you to eat and replenish the body’s energy stores. Leptin serves roles beyond hunger and satiety. It is also important for fertility, libido, and puberty.

Leptin resistance causes you to always feel hungry

Because fat cells secrete leptin, overweight and obese people should never feel hungry. Unfortunately, the reverse happens. Excess fat secretes too much leptin, bombarding leptin receptors on cells. Eventually these cells become overwhelmed and shut down their leptin receptors to protect themselves. This is called leptin resistance—leptin can no longer get into the cells to deliver their message that the stomach is full and it’s time to stop eating.

Hence the leptin-resistant person always feels hungry and is prone to overeat, even if she or he is carrying plenty of fat. In addition to causing chronic hunger, leptin resistance doubly vexes the overweight person by promoting fat storage and making it tough to lose weight.

Leptin resistance and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

For the person trying to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, leptin resistance is a primary concern because it signals a blood sugar imbalance. Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. Blood sugar disorders exacerbate autoimmune reactions, which can flare up your autoimmune thyroid condition, or make it difficult to manage. When managing your autoimmune Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, it’s important to balance blood sugar and address conditions such as leptin resistance.

Diet can reverse leptin resistance and chronic hunger

The key to unwinding leptin resistance is to adopt a diet that will restore leptin sensitivity. The eating habits that typically lead to being overweight or obese—overeating and eating too many sweets and starchy foods, processed foods, and foods fried in industrialized fats—also lead to leptin resistance, high triglycerides, and hence the feeling of always being hungry.

A person with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism should be wary of diets heavy in grains—studies link gluten intolerance with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and many people have sensitivities to grains other than wheat, such as corn.

Overeating causes leptin resistance. Ditch the sodas, sweets, processed foods, and high-carbohydrate foods, which trigger cravings in many people. Healthy fats and sufficient protein curb cravings.

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